The two units of the house on the Dolgorukovskaya Street look like Russian treasure chests, while the brickwork of their walls echoes the belfry of the Saint Nicolas Church in Novaya Sloboda. The project, although small, became the result of thorough analysis of the architectural environment and was selected out of many other options.
Written by: Julia Tarabarina Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The land site in question is but a miniature one – only 0.32 hectares – and it is located on the second line of the Dolgorukovskaya Street, in an extremely diverse and just as interesting historical environment, north of the Saint Nicolas Church, facing the semicircular square of the Italian Quarter designed by Mikhail Filippov, behind a small park, which is the haunt of the local dog owners. In 1904, the church of the “Naryshkin” architecture of the late XVII century got an additional monastery canteen or “fratery”, as it is sometimes called, and a belfry designed in a neo-Russian style on the verge of eclectics and art nouveau. The church functioned until the 1930’s when it was handed over to the Museum of Atheism (sic!), and then was taken down altogether to be replaced by the building of the soviet cartoon production company Soyuzmultfilm that turned out to be quite a decent monument of postconstructivism; in 2018 it was handed back over to the church community. Today, this architectural ensemble looks a little bit strange, just as many of the results of soviet intrusions into church complexes, yet at the same time very romantic, chiefly thanks to the belfry of dark brown bricks covered with hundred-year-old patina; it may look like gothic to a layperson, even though, of course, in the beginning of the XX century the architects Voskresensky and Kurdyukov drew inspiration from prototypes belonging to the late XVII century. What is more important, however, is the fact that the belfry definitely “holds together” the city space around it.
All around the place, everything is organized just as much in the “Moscow” fashion. The church and the territory to the north of it belonged to Soyuzmultfilm and was occupied by small-scale structures of varying time of construction and varying degree of dilapidation. Most of them will be torn down for the sole exception of a small three-window wooden house built in 1821 and overlooking the Dolgorukovskaya Street – it boasts the status of a “rediscovered heritage site”. In fact, the buildings of the new club house will occupy the territory of a town manor estate of the Councilor of State Andrey Aleksandrovich Petrovo-Sokolovo, who built this house; in the middle of the XIX century, there was a small pond here, and in 1880 a factory was built. Soyuzmultfilm was using this house as a darkroom but in 2004 half of the solid wood construction collapsed, and, according to the architects, the best way to save the situation was reassembling the house on a newly-built foundation.
Back to the surroundings of the buildings, though! The nearest neighbor of the Petrovo-Sokolovo estate, the house that used to belong to the Prussian subject August Sibert is an early, of 1891, work by Roman Klein, the master of neo-Greek, the author of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and the TSUM department store; the house was slightly tainted by later remodeling, but still this proximity is more than obliging. There is still another – counting from the city center – tenement house that used to belong to “Fischer Society”, an example of Neogothic of the 1910’s. Across the street, there are Brezhnev and Luzhkov giants. Therefore, the miniature land plot in question is surrounded by every conceivable type of Moscow construction. And, accordingly, the authors had to take into account what diverse neighbors the future house would have – but more importantly, they had think about what kind of background the new housing project would present for the house of 1821, and the neighboring house designed by Roman Klein.
Considering the level of responsibility, the small size of the land site and the height restriction of 23 meters, the architects decided to design the complex very carefully, molding the future buildings step by step – showing different options to the client, discarding and improving their versions. What they ultimately got was a total of nine options, all rather different – with a cantilevered structure of a hovering “city villa”, with a pointed avant-garde nose, with a modern façade of respectable-looking vertical windows, or with a long “protuberance” that looked like a curious “head” peeking between the Sokolov Estate and the Saint Nicolas church. The architects and their client also considered elongated volumes, zigzagged and with an inner yard, and bio-shaped nonlinear ones looking like an armadillo.
The reference point – we’ll stress it again – were the same for all of the options; the authors carefully studied the surroundings both in terms of architectural reference points and in terms of the possible views both views of the house and views from the house, literally trying to get as much as possible information to be processed in the project. The architects even did a retrospective research of the local housing construction of the XX and XIX centuries (sic!), getting very curious results and city plans. They even remembered the Pimen Church and the shopping arcades, which once were there on the Miusskaya Square. There was quite a lot of meticulous work done, in short.
The main results look as follows: the most interesting neighbor is the belfry of the Saint Nicolas Church – back in the day it was also grasped by Mikhail Filippov who concentrated his whole huge housing complex around it, thus highlighting the brick tower yet again. Next – the two nearest neighbors are really miniature ones, and what pre-Brezhnev construction was there, was pretty much in the same “Moscow” scale. The tenement house of the Fischer Society is larger – but it still demonstrates the human-proportional yard rhythm. And, last but not least, one of the main problems was a building with a ceramic granite façade adjoining the north border of the land site, or, rather, its deep projection, stepping up right to the border; currently, the building hosts a bank.
The architects had to “step back” from this projection, and in this side a small yard appeared that the architects actually turned into a courtyard or a “court of honor”, as it is also called, the inevitable attribute of castles as palaces, both French and Palladian.
Settling on one option out of nine was made easier by the analogies with the belfry, the “merchant Moscow”, and Paris: ultimately the architects got two compact rectangular buildings of similar parameters standing at a right angle to each other. Between them, there is a yard that steps back from the “bank” projection; it is continued southward by a path that leads to the Pykhov Lane and the belfry. Underneath the yard, and underneath the whole construction blueprint, for that matter, there are two levels of an underground parking garage. Closer to the yard and the projection of the “northern neighbor”, there are entrance lobbies grouped on the bottom floors. The bottom floors are meant to be public ones; in the western building (which was placed in the depth of the territory), the ground floor, in addition to the entrance lobby, is also occupied by the office of the management company, while the eastern building will also have a cafe in it. It is extended by amphitheater stairs that descend into the yard and separate the space of the residential complex from the street noise.
The apartments on floors from 2 to 4 have three rooms in them, ranging from 39 to 78 square meters. Higher up, the architects designed two-level penthouses – these flank the center along the building’s perimeter and conceal the protrusions of the mechanical rooms (the authors claim that it’s imperative that the technical equipment remain invisible). The outside walls of the penthouses are tilted inwards; the likeness with the mansard – the “Parisian” part of the buildings’ image – is strengthened by decorative “shutters” made from glass fiber reinforced concrete; they also go a long way to help the top part of the building look like a single integral volume.
The slanting silhouette gave the house an unmistakable likeness to an ancient Russian treasure chest, the kind that can be seen in local history and lore museums, and this likeness pleased the authors because it is resonant with the “petty bourgeoisie” Moscow and their search for the historical context – what it ended up happening is something like “the return of the merchant city”, not in the form of one of the single-story or double-story mansions that used to be abundant here but indirectly, through the image of a single thing scaled up to the size of a house, as is the custom nowadays.
As for the likeness to the main accent – the belfry – it is highlighted by the brick decoration. The architects opted for solid-body hand-molded bricks, seamless, with a cutaway at the edges that enhances the ribs of the joints. The authors stress that its use was necessary for achieving the desired effect – the purpose was, of course, not only to inscribe the two buildings into the context but also to highlight their “preciousness” through their relationship with the most interesting building amongst the surroundings. By the way, stressing the “preciousness” of the house, the interior design, proposed by the architects, uses a golden hue, which is echoed by the window jambs made of copper imitation panels; it looks as if the golden glow of the treasure slightly leaks out from the inside, casting a copper reflex.
By the way, between the first and the second section of the belfry, there is a height difference, a “leap” that is basically typical for Naryshkin silhouettes – it also echoes the mansard slant of the buildings. Now, however, the architects have a new reason to worry: work has begun on renovating the Saint Nicolas Church, and what if the belfry gets stuccoed all over? But then again, one must say that this fear is groundless – its façades have always been pure brick, and no one in their right mind would permit to use stucco here.
The brickwork is diluted with ornamental insets: floral ones that look like diamond rings of the medieval treasure chests and meander that serves as an homage to the neighboring Klein. The end result slightly resembles the Igumnov house. The outlines of the “treasure chest” buildings are slightly squatting because of the height restrictions and the “tower” typology with a communication nucleus in the middle of the volume – this is something that the authors of the project admit themselves. On the one hand, such shape is perfect for “treasure chests”, and, on the other hand, the architects did everything they could to fight the squatting appearance of their creation: they removed almost all the horizontal dividing lines, for the sole exception of the meanders, and slightly raised the overall height.
To cut a long story short, the construction has already begun, and by 2019 the Dolgorukovskaya Street must get two “treasure chests”, whose unusual silhouettes will add extra diversity to this city.
Park of Sentiments
The project of “Romantic Park Tuchkov Buyan”, which was developed by the consortium of Studio 44 and WEST 8, and has won an international competition, combines sculptural landscape design and wooden structures, variety of spatial features and an eventful agenda, designed for diverse audience, with a beautiful and complex passeist idea of a palace park, meant to evoke thoughts and feelings.
Architecture as an Educational Tool
The concept of a charity school “Tochka Budushchego” (“Point of the Future”) in Irkutsk is based on cutting-edge educational programs, and is designed, among other things, for adapting orphaned children for independent life. An important role is played by the architecture of the building: its structure and different types of interconnected spaces.
The Gallery Approach
In this article, we are covering the concept of a Central District Clinic for 240 patients, designed by Ginzburg Architects, which won at a competition organized by the Architects Union and the Healthcare Ministry.
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From Foundation to Teaspoon
Based on the taste of their friendly clients, the architects Olga Budennaya and Roman Leonidov designed and built a house in the Moscow metropolitan area playing Art Nouveau. At the same time, they enriched the typology of a private house with modern functions of a garage loft and a children’s art studio.
Continuation and Development
The second “office” stage of Comcity, the most popular business park of the “New Moscow” area, continues the underground street of the already existing part of the complex, responding to its architectural identity.
A Comfortable City in Itself
The project that we are about to cover is seemingly impossible amidst human anthills, chaotically interspersed with old semi-neglected dachas. Meanwhile, the housing complex built on the Comcity business part does offer a comfortable environment of decent city: not excessively high-rise and moderately private as a version of the perfect modern urbanist solution.
Moving on the Edge
The housing complex “Litsa” (“Faces”) on Moscow’s Khodynka Field is one of the new grand-scale buildings that complement the construction around it. This particular building skillfully tackles the scale, subjugating it to the silhouette and the pattern; it also makes the most of the combination of a challenging land site and formidable square footage requirements, packing a whole number of features within one volume, so the house becomes an analogue of a city. And, to cap it all, it looks like a family that securely protects the children playing in the yard from... well, from everything, really.
Visual Stability Agent
A comparatively small house standing on the border of the Bolshevik Factory combines two diametrically opposite features: expensive materials and decorative character of Art Deco, and a wide-spaced, even somewhat brutal, facade grid that highlights a laminated attic.
The Faraday Cage
The project of the boutique apartment complex in the 1st Truzhenikov Lane is the architects’ attempt to squeeze a considerable volume into a tiny spot of land, at the same time making it look graceful and respectable. What came to their rescue was metal, stone, and curvilinear glass.
The Union of Art and Technology
His interest for architecture of the 1930’s is pretty much the guiding star for Stepan Liphart. In his project of the “Amo” house on St. Petersburg’s Vasilyevsky Island, the architect based himself on Moscow Art Deco - aesthetically intricate and decorated in scratch-work technique. As a bonus, he developed the city block typology as an organic structure.
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In the project that they developed for a southern region of Russia, OSA Architects use multilayered facades that create an image of seaside resort architecture, and, in the vein of the latest trends of today, mix up different social groups that the residents belong to.
Just a Mirror for the Sun
The house that Sergey Skuratov designed in Nikolovorobinsky Alley is thought out down to the last detail. It adapts three historical facades, interprets a feeling of a complex city, is composed of many layers, and catches plenty of sunlight, from sunrises to sunsets. The architect himself believes that the main role of this house is creating a background for another nearby project of his, Art House in the Tessinsky Alley.
Part of the Whole
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Yet another project of a private school, in which Archimatika realizes the concept of aesthetic education and introduces a new tradition: combining Scandinavian and Soviet experience, turning to works of art, and implementing sustainable technologies.
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Stairway to Heaven
The project of a hotel in the settlement of Yantarny is an example of a new recreational complex typology, and a new format that unites the hotel, the business, and the cultural functions. All of this is complemented by 100% integration with nature.
Cape of Good Hope
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The Outer Space
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The Pivot of Narkomfin Building
Ginzburg Architects finished the restoration of the Narkomfin Building’s laundry unit – one of the most important elements of the famous monument of Soviet avant-garde architecture.
The housing complex “Respublika” is so large that it can be arguably called a micro-town, yet, at the same time, it easily overcomes most of the problems that usually arise with mass housing construction. How could Archimatika achieve that? We are examining that on the example of the first stage of the complex.
The Flowing Lines
The five houses of the “Svoboda” block belonging to the “Simvol” residential complex present a vivid example of all-rounded work performed by the architects on an integral fragment of the city, which became the embodiment of the approach to architecture that hitherto was not to be seen anywhere in Moscow: everything is subjected to the flow of lines – something like a stream, enhanced by the powerful pattern of the facades akin to “super-graphics”.
A City by the Water
The concept of a large-scale housing development at the edge of Voronezh, near the city reservoir, or “the sea”, as it is locally called, uses the waterside height difference to create a sophisticated public space, paying a lot of attention to the distribution of masses that determine the look of the future complex if viewed from the opposite bank of the river.
A Journey to the Country of Art Deco
The “Little France” residential complex on the 20th line of the Vasilyevsky Island presents an interesting make-believe dialogue between its architect, Stepan Liphart, the architect of the New Hermitage, masters of the Silver Age, and Soviet Art Deco, about interesting professional topics, such as a house with a courtyard in the historical center of Saint Petersburg, and the balance between the wall and the stained glass in the architectonics of the facade. Here are the results of this make-believe conversation.
A House in a Port
This housing complex on the Dvinskaya Street is the first case of modern architecture on the Gutuevsky Island. The architectural bureau “A-Len” thoroughly explores the context and creates a landmark for further transformations of this area of Saint Petersburg.
Balance of Infill Development
Anatoly Stolyarchuk Architectural Studio is designing a house that inadvertently prevails over the surrounding buildings, yet still tries to peacefully coexist with the surrounding environment, taking it to a next level.
The Precious Space
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Big Little Victory
In a small-sized school located in Domodedovo in Moscow metropolitan area, ASADOV_ architects did a skillful job of tackling the constraints presented by the modest budget and strict spatial limitations – they designed sunlit classrooms, comfortable lounges, and even a multi-height atrium with an amphitheater, which became the center of school life.
The Social Biology of Landscape
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Watched by the Angels from up Above
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A New Version of the Old City
The house at Malaya Ordynka, 19, fits in perfectly with the lineup of the street, looking even as if it straightened the street up a little, setting a new tone for it – a tone of texture, glitter, “sunny” warmth, and, at the same time, reserved balance of everything that makes the architecture of an expensive modern house.
Stepan Liphart: “Standing your ground is the right thing to do”
A descendant of German industrialists, “Jophan’s son”, and an architect, speaks about how studying architectural orders tempers one’s character, and how a team of just a few people can design grand-scale housing projects to be built in the center of Saint Petersburg. Also: Santa Claus appearing in a Stalin high-rise, an arch portal to the outer space, mannerism painting, and the palaces of Paris – all covered in an interview with Stepan Liphart.
Honey and Copper
In the Moscow area, the architect Roman Leonidov designed the “Cool House” residence, very much in the spirit of Frank Lloyd Wright, spreading it parallel to the ground, and accentuating the horizontal lines in it. The color composition is based on juxtaposition of warm wood of a honey hue and cold copper blue.
The Ring on the Saisara Lake
The building of the Philharmonic Hall and the Theater of Yakut Epos, standing on the shore of the sacred lake, is inscribed into an epic circle and contains three volumes, reminiscent of the traditional national housing. The roof is akin to the Alaas – a Yakut village standing around a lake. In spite of its rich conceptual agenda, the project remains volumetrically abstract, and keeps up a light form, making the most of its transparency, multiple layers, and reflections.
Architecture of Evanescence
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The Theater and Music Circles
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