The ASTRA housing complex designed by SYNCHROTECTURE in the very center of the city of Perm is a rather famous one – it was showcased at several architectural festivals. The architects were able to find common ground with the city people, the surrounding nature, and the historical part of the city, at the same time bringing back to life two monuments of architecture of the XIX century.
Written by: Lara Kopylova Translated by: Anton Mizonov
16 October 2018
The housing complex ASTRA received lots of architectural awards, and quite deservedly, too – the complex is full of original ideas and it boasts a clear-cut volumetric composition. In addition, one can feel quite the metropolitan grandeur about it. Anton Barklyansky was born in Perm and went to the university of Ekaterinburg but he has already worked in many Moscow’s and overseas architectural firms. And, as far as the city of Perm is concerned, during the governorship of Oleg Chirkunov it was at the frontier of the modern architecture and urbanism. The master plan designed by the Dutch firm KCAP, the international competition for the project of the museum of modern art PERMM with the participation of Peter Zumthor, and other architectural events going on in this city created a favorable informational context, into which ASTRA fit in nicely with its Dutch-Scandinavian flavor.
The SYNCHROTECTURE architects believe that there are at least three things, of which ASTRA can be proud. The first one is its town-planning solution: building in a historical center of the city a rather large housing project, inscribing it into the existing panorama, and meeting the useful floor space requirements is quite a feat in itself. The second thing is of a social nature: the architects were able to keep this land site accessible to the city people who will enjoy its beauty – for this, along the historical passages they have routed some pedestrian streets.
Anton Barklyansky: “The first and the main question that we needed to answer was the town-planning challenge: how can you place something big in a place like this? Then we asked ourselves what this place would give the future residents of the complex and to the city people”.
The land site is located in the center of Perm, in the stead of the former “Black Market” named like this because it had to be cleared from swamp soils. The plan of the center of the city was drawn up in 1784 by the architect Ivan Lem who worked in the Building Committee of Saint Petersburg and promoted spreading regular city plans of Catherine of Russia classicism all across the nation. On the old drawings, it really looks like Manhattan: regular city blocks dissected into lots. The two historical buildings of the late XIX century designed by the architect Vasily Potapenko are precisely inscribed into such a block, forming its sides. They are considered to be the monuments of architecture. Originally, this place was occupied by shopping arcades with a perimetral go-around: shops in the first floors with offices and storages above them. In the Soviet times, these buildings hosted a print works and a tobacco factory, the whole territory of these blocks being occupied by annexes built later on. The yard façades got obscured by the new buildings, many arches were stopped with bricks, and the brick walls were painted over.
Anton Barklyansky: “In any case, these monuments of architecture were nothing but an encumbrance for the developer. Reconstruction is more expensive that building from scratch – but our client was prepared for that. We opened the perimetral go-around, restored the apertures, reformed the buildings to meet today’s emergency evacuation requirements, and designed a few extra staircases, yet in such a way that they are not visible from the outside. We also restored the divided glazing pattern. We handled the work on these passages from beginning to end, and we insisted on historically accurate restoration of the brickwork, controlling every stage of the process”.
The reconstruction of the passages increased the value of the territory. As for the main task, it consisted in building a residential house on a land site between two passages and an office brick building of the 1990’s. Considering the fact that this is a historical zone, and not far away stands the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour with a belfry (an architectural monument of federal importance), the architects did a visual landscape survey. “Together with the center for monument protection, we checked out the vantage points where you cannot block the view of the cathedral in the panorama of the city – Anton says. And this is where the main insight came, which was the silhouette of the roof”.
“There are gable roofs of the passages, and, using them as a starting point, we are gradually moving upwards, keeping the dialogue with history at the expense of the roofs of the residential building. This is a modern shape but there is also a dialogue with history about it. This is an idea that’s seriously cool. On the scheme, the skyline looks pretty much like the traffic sign with the pictogram of the city. And, mind, this is a traditional town with a cathedral’s spear towering above it. Gabled roofs generally look better in a historical environment than flat ones. And in our case – which came as a pleasant surprise – they also yielded the maximum output of useful floor space. And this means that other architects can follow in our footsteps”.
The multigabled roof of ASTRA turned out to be ambivalent: if you look at it from the city side, you immediately feel the connection with the skyline of the historical roofs, and of you look at it from the yard side, it looks like a mountain silhouette. The structure of the roof is executed from reinforced concrete. In order to avoid the risk of getting leaks at the bends, the architects provided for water catch and heating the roof. Originally, it was planned that the roof would be there in the plane of the façade with a small water gutter running along its perimeter. The overhang of the roof was not originally planned but, as it often happens in the process, popped up along the way.
The façade is decorated with tiles of several shades of sand that creates an effect of a “living” natural surface.
The yard, which looks like a mountain meadow among the rocks, is the veritable gem of the project. Originally, it was designed as being filled trees, which would be reflected from top to bottom (!) in the glass façades. This way, the complex would get a natural architectural space for meditation. In Norway, people in the evenings just sit around watching the forest – this is a national tradition. The architects have been unable (so far) to implement all the plans concerning the trees and the terrain formation but the mirror façades are already visually enlarging the comparatively small yard thanks to a myriad of reflections. In addition, the lines of the roof of the two opposite blocks have different shapes, and these silhouettes get curiously bent in the reflections. In order to make the yard vehicle-free and make the access for all vehicles (including emergency ones) only from the outside of the building, the architects carefully thought out the floor plans, making sure that all of the apartments have an access to the outside perimeter. The floor plans range from studios and double room apartments to apartments with terraces on the roofs and mansard windows.
To recap – there are several important ideas implemented ASTRA: the multigabled roof (also known as “hip-and-valley roof”), which can arguably be patented as the “Barklyansky Skyline”, fracturing of the overall volume into several parts of different height, a vehicle-free “oasis” yard with mirror façades and territory valorization. But I think the roof steals the show.
The image of the building that sports an old-fashioned multigabled roof in combination with modernist plastique of the façades is quite sustainable, and it could one day end up being the design mainstream for our cities because such buildings have a historical memory, and they are guaranteed against the symbolic poverty of most modern buildings. And it was for a good reason that SYNCHROTECTURE used their signature multigabled roofs in another Perm project of theirs, also connected with the historical context. These hip-and-valley roofs could one day form the city fabric that the modern architecture has so far been unable to create – but the trend for it is there.
Buyan and the Court Quarter
The news about cancellation of the Tuchkov Buyan park has been stirring the minds of people of St. Petersburg for a week already. In the absence of any verified specific information, we discussed the situation with the architects of the park and the Court Quarter: Nikita Yavein and Evgeny Gerasimov.
The Possibility of Flight
The project of the airport, which ASADOV Architects developed for the city of Tobolsk, and which won in the architectural competition, was not implemented. However, it is interesting as an example of designing an airport building of a very small scale, where the main challenge is the optimal organization of space and infrastructure without compromising the imagery component.
Built in the town of Pushkino in the Moscow area, the “Turgeneva 13” housing complex, while fitting in with the surrounding context, differs from it with the rhythmic austerity of its dual composition, a slight wave of the façade, and the color design, in which one can see two images, winter and summer, both “growing” from the specifics of the place.
A Shell by the Sea
Designing the Sports Palace that will determine the development of the entire northern part of Derbent, ASADOV Architects turned to the architectural legacy of Dagestan, local lore, and ancient layers of history.
Karen Saprichyan is wishing everyone a merry Christmas, presenting a series of letter-shaped skyscrapers. The architect has long since been working on this theme, and has calendars of various years in stock. His latest development is a group of towers designed for the city of NEOM, which will be built in Saudi Arabia.
The three brick blocks of the “River Park” housing complex gaze at the water with their terraces. Each block forms a backdrop and two wings, while the residents-only yards turn into “stages” perceived from the river. The landscaped embankment, accessible to all the city people, complements the hierarchy of private, semi-private and public city life that is formed here.
Pompidou Inside Out
Renzo Piano and his GES-2 have already been compared to Ridolfo Aristotele Fioravanti and his Cathedral of the Assumption. And for a good reason: GES-2 also stuns you with its grace and loftiness, but ultimately turns out to be the richest collection of recognizable motifs from an early masterpiece by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the George Pompidou Center in Paris. These motifs are fused into the grid of Shukhov-esque structures, painted white, and they create a dialogue between 1910, 1971, and 2021, built on references (not devoid of a poster-like quality) to the main masterpiece. The basilica-shaped space of the former power station is taken apart virtually just like the museum, in accordance with the concept by Teresa Mavica.
Next to Lidval and Nobel
The housing complex designed by Anatoly Stolyarchuk in Neishlotsky Alley: tactful change of scale, tribute to the memory of the place, Finnish additions to the functional typology – specifically, saunas in the apartments – and plans for receiving a BREEAM certificate.
And stabbed it with a knife
The leader of Coop Himmelb(l)au, Wolf D. Prix, presented three projects that he is currently doing in Russia: a complex in Sevastopol, Crimea, which, as it turned out, a western architect could build bypassing the sanctions, because this is a cultural project; a museum and theater center in Kemerovo, and the “SKA Arena”, which is built in the stead of the destroyed Sports and Concert Complex in St. Petersburg – during the presentation the latter was symbolized by a round cake that the architect eventually cut.
The Thin Matter
The house named “Medny 3.14” (“Copper 3.14”) is composed of two textures, each of which resembles in its own way some kind of precious fabric, and of three units, each of which is oriented towards one cardinal point. The architecture of the house absorbs the nuances of the context, summing them up and turning them into a single rhythmic structure. In this article, we are examining the new, just-completed, house designed by Sergey Skuratov in Donskaya Street.
The new business center built in Moscow’s district of Presnya in the 1st Zemelny Lane is all about technology and sustainability. Its streamlined shapes and white facade grid are combined with a new version of vertical greenery: the green of wild grapes, placed at a distance from the facade, instead of arguing with the “pergola” grid, sets it off by contrast.
Lightness of Being
Blooming Sakura, a campfire party, kids splashing in a swimming pool – no, these are not pictures from a vacation, but everyday life going on in the yards of Kiev’s housing complex “Fayna Town”. In this issue, we are examining how the utopia designed by the architects is wired, and what they did to make it a reality.
A Triangular Folded Structure
The project of the new terminal of the Muraviev-Amursky airport in Blagoveshchensk offers architecture based on a modular form – endowed with a special imagery, it becomes the basis both for the carrying structures of the building and the plastique of the facade, at the same time reverberating in the interior design.
The Breath of the East
Designing a residential complex for Tashkent, GENPRO is turning to traditional architecture and modern trends, aiming at emotionality and efficiency: the panjar window lattices and mishrabias are neighboring on vertical greenery and parametric ornaments, while the theme buildings do on a cotton alley and an oriental bazaar.
The Openwork XX-Construction Set
The yard of the Architecture Museum on Moscow’s Vozdvizhenka hosts an installation by DNK ag. It is timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the company, and was originally presented at Arch Moscow. The art object is expected to stay in the yard of the museum for one year and set a new tradition – a regularly renewed exhibition project called “Modern Architecture in the yard of MUAR”.
The Spinning Vibe
The pavilion designed by Sergey Tchoban for the World EXPO 2020 in Dubai is a bright and integral architectural statement, whose imagery can be traced back to avant-garde graphic experiments by Jacob Chernikhov, but allows for multiple interpretations. The pavilion looks both like a dome temple, a spinning “Planet Russia”, and the head of a matryoshka doll. Still more interestingly, the core of the exposition is a “brain”. In this article, we take a closer look at the interpretations and the subtleties of the implementation.
Tolerant Aesthetics of Terraforming
The World Expo is a gigantic event; it is difficult to give it one definition or cover it at a glance. All the more so – such an ambitious and record-breaking fair as the one that is now open in Dubai despite all the pandemic restrictions. By no means claiming to present an all-rounded review, we are making an attempt to examine Expo 2020, where signs of aesthetic tolerance of a developer project begin to loom behind the imposing-looking “wings” of “star” architects and delights from space exploration.
The Town in the Snuff-box
The new academic building of Cooperation School in Moscow’s Taganka, designed and built by ASADOV Architects, is a compact volume, at the same time filled with functions and impressions. It easily combines classrooms, a theater, a cafeteria, a gym, and a double-height atrium with an open library and an exit to the terrace – virtually everything that you expect to see in a modern school.
The Northern Versailles
On the bank of the magnificent Vychegda River, in a picturesque location six kilometers away from Syktyvkar, the capital of the Komi republic, the renowned neoclassical architect Mikhail Filippov has designed the town of Yugyd-Choi in the traditional aesthetics inspired by the center of St. Petersburg. The customer Elena Soboleva, the head of the Syktyvkar Housing Construction Fund, sees her mission in making Yugyd-Choi the hallmark of the republic.
Analysis and Synthesis
The project of the housing complex “Krasin”, designed for the historical center of St. Petersburg, and situated in a very obliging place – next to the Mining University designed by Voronikhin, yet bordering on an industrial area – became the result of a thorough analysis of the specifics of historical construction on the Vasilyevsky Island, and a subsequent synthesis with avoidance of direct stylization, yet forming a recognizable silhouette, resonant with the “old town”.
Tatiana Guk: “A document that determines the development of the city has to be flexible”
In this issue, we are talking to the director of the Genplan Institute of Moscow about trends that determine the future, about the 70-year history of the Institute, which is celebrating an anniversary this year, about electronic computing in the field of urban planning and about international experience accumulated in this area, as well as about how the Institute is involved with other cities, and about the perfect document for the city development, which has to be flexible and strategic.
The high-rise housing complex MOD, whose construction has begun in Moscow’s district of Maryina Roshcha next to the site, on which the new Russian Railways headquarters will be built, is responding to the “central” context of the future city surroundings, and at the same time is positioned by the architects as a “manifesto of Modernist minimalist principles in architecture”.
A project by DNK ag won in a competition for the science campus of the National Center for Physics and Mathematics in the city of Sarov, conducted by ROSATOM corporation in collaboration with the Moscow State University, Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Kurchatov Institute.
The new terminal of the Leonov Airport in Kemerovo was built in record-breaking time, despite the pandemic. It became one of the important factors for the rapid development of the city, visually reflecting its dedication to the first spacewalk, both in the interiors and on the facades. Its main features are the “starry sky” effect and overall openness.
The Spiral Approach
The school building in the city of Nur-Sultan, designed by Vera Budko and Anton Nadtochiy from beginning to end – from concept to working documentation – became the embodiment of the architects’ method for creating a modern educational environment, which the ATRIUM architects have been developing for years. Its fundamentals include creating an inspiring environment that motivates you to create. This is why the new school received a shape of an ornamental golden spiral that symbolizes ascension to knowledge; on the inside, the building is a compound and multifunctional “city within a city” with multilevel atriums, amphitheaters, and varying routes.
Stream and Lines
Stepan Liphart’s projects of Art Deco villas demonstrate technical symbolism in combination with a subtle reference to the 1930s. One of the projects is a “paper” one; the others are designed for real customers: a top manager, an art collector, and a developer.
On the Bank of a Very Quiet River
The project of landscaping the territory of the residential complex NOW in Moscow’s Nagatinskaya Valley goes beyond the limits of its task and looks more like a modern park: with viewing platforms, an embankment, spaces different in their moods, and thought-out scenarios for visitors aged between 0 and 80.