Situated in the north of Moscow, the housing complex “Caramel” was to have one outboard balcony per each apartment. Such a composition inevitably creates a “thermometer look” – but ADM Architects were able to “kill” this undesirable effect by introducing a play of planks of every conceivable hue of the chocolate color.
Written by: Translated by: Anton Mizonov
27 November 2018
Working in the conditions of dense city construction – and the space between the Nizhnyaya Maslovka, Butyrskaya, and Bashilovslaya street has long since been formed – is always about facing a great number of restrictions. However, when you happen to “inherit” a house with its intrinsic “genes” presented by the construction blueprint and the number of floors (and, at the same time, with a few prominent “inherent vices”), this takes challenge you have to face to a whole new level. What you have to do is make a high-precision surgery on a living and breathing organism – and then hold your breath that complications will not set in.
In the case of “Caramel” housing complex, this was exactly the situation described above: the construction had already begun, the position of the building and its yard had been settled, and at the same time the project needed some major revisions to be done without altering either configuration or number of floors. ADM architects completely redesigned the two underground levels and the first floor, took on the function of the master designer, redid the project and the working documentation stages, passed expert review, and got the architectural and urban planning permissions. And – the miracle did happen: even at this early stage, the architects were able to get rid of the “inherent vices” by changing both structure and (to a certain extent) ideology of the complex.
For example, while in the old project the hallway entrances were situated on the inner side of the house, and there was a free driving access to them through the yard, in the new version there is just one central entrance with a spacious lobby. Now the entrance is organized from the outside, and one can either proceed to the residents-only yard or to one of the two elevator groups, each of which leads to its “own” section of the house, or to the shops that occupy a considerable part of the ground floor and “look” outside with their windows and doors. As for the cars, the driving is organized as follows: immediately from the 2nd Kvesisskaya Street, they drive into a double-level underground parking garage, and the yard gets inaccessible to them.
Further on, the architects had to find an acceptable solution for the concrete ramp situated on the west border of the land site – joined with the ventilation chambers and other mechanical rooms, it turned into a bulky object more than 3 meters high and almost 10 meters long – this volume “ate up” all but the whole territory of the yard. What the architects did was integrate it into a manmade hill covered with grass and trees, and singled out some of the concrete surface for playgrounds, flowerbeds, and recreation zones with benches. As a result, they got a two-level yard with active and interesting kind of geoplastics, full of not only functions but also impressions that people will be getting from the height differences and the effect of a hilly terrain. Not only was the yard saved from going to waste but it also got an extra emotional value by turning into a terrain cure spot.
However, probably, the main challenge that the architects had to face were the balconies, originally designed virtually for each of the apartments; and at the time the project was revised the apartments were already being sold – the architects had to work “on the fly”, first of all, thinking about the way to eliminate the effect of a thermometer, which inevitably shows through when identical glazed balconies are stacked on top of one another giving a recognizable intrepid taste to the buildings of our cities. In spite of the fact that the balconies could not be removed, Andrey Romanov and Ekaterina Kuznetsova were able to mitigate this effect to a large degree – or at least divert people's attention from it.
The “plastic surgery” was done along several lines at once: surface-wise, the architects solved the issue by introducing transparent and nontransparent rectangles of varying width; volume-wise – by introducing elements of different scale standing out, from air conditioning unit casings to vertical blocks of balconies. And, finally, as far as the entire façade is concerned – by using different colors and textures: the thin broad ceramic tiles of various shades of pale, looking like plaster, create a grisaille watercolor background, making the slab of the house look indeed like a gigantic candy and justifying the gastronomic name of the complex. On the glazed balconies, they turn into brittle, almost white, lintels that bravely dissect the glass massifs. Here, on the stanzas, the floors are grouped in twos, and a different rhythm appears – as if one house grows through the other, as if we are seeing two genetic codes here, one more on the thicker side, the other totally gothic.
And, finally, this whole multilayered, yet still clearly readable, structure, alternates with inserts made up of aluminum planks of all shades of chocolate – from milky white to bitter dark. They conceal the air-conditioning units installed next to the stanzas, forming a staggered rhythm that is meant to offset the vertical effect. The same ribbons adorn the individual casings of the air conditioning units scattered across the walls in a deliberately asymmetrical fashion, also for the sake of livening up the view and making the building look less predictable. On the façades of the house, the planks are responsible for the horizontal: fractured, decorative, and full of color, like a pretty little scarf. They balance out the vertical, which is doubtlessly dominant here, because it is responsible for making the house look slender and neat, just like a modern building should. The slenderness is achieved through the lines of the stanzas, the vertical proportions of the windows, which, after the 120-centimeter fire safety break regulation was observed, got in their bottom parts gray silk-printed inserts that visually “stretch up” the contour, especially when viewed from a distance. The walls are interpreted as a broad grille of lintels between the window apertures, which also enhances the visual “fitness effect” for the building. As for the vertical, it is enhanced by the numerous grilled on the yard side, which support the stroke pattern of the thin planks.
One should hardly mention the fact that ADM are the perfect masters of such rhythmic bel canto, these multilayered, volumetric and graphic façades, where the architect’s main task is to stay within the framework of the grid that holds the volume together, adding, at the same time, a twist of picturesque asymmetry that livens up the whole thing. In this specific instance, it is obvious that the task was to “rock” the monotonous and predictable volume, yet, as true professionals, the architects were able to resist the temptation of overdoing it. Besides, one can easily notice the similarities between the solutions used in this project and the architecture of the Hilton Doubletree Hotel on the Leningrad Avenue: the same combination of picturesque spots and punctured lines, the same play of window apertures, sometimes broad and sometimes narrow, the same sophisticated “knot” of verticals and horizontals that nonetheless makes perfect sense. What is different here is the scale, the function, and the materials – the hotel project used plaster and ceramic planks, and here we see ceramic walls and aluminum planks. But still, the set of techniques is very close to that, which is perfectly normal: the authors keep on developing their method, applying it to a new task.
Therefore, from a rank-and-file high-rise with monotonous rows of balconies and potentially oppressive yard, “Caramel” turned into a business-class housing complex with all the “ensuing consequences”: a recognizable architectural image, a green vehicle-free yard, a public ground floor, an underground parking garage, and panoramic glazing in apartments from 54 to 228 square meters. No complications did set in.
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.