​Frontier Worlds

A search for unconventional approaches to urban housing densification, new ideas for background architecture and addressing the issues of a space with a negative aura – all of this is to be found in the new housing project designed by OSA for a land site that, among other things, contains an abandoned monument of architecture.

author pht

Written by:
Alyona Kuznetsova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

05 February 2019

In the north suburb of the historical part of Ekaterinburg, next to the Bolshakov Park, on the 8 Marta Street, stands one of the city’s best-known derelict buildings – the emergency aid clinic that has the status of a monument of architecture of regional importance. The clinic was built in 1932; its architecture is interesting for the combination of avant-garde and neoclassical techniques. An arcade of thermal windows that crowns compound five-story buildings, columns, plasterwork, and the greenery of the nearby park make this building look more like a health resort rather than a hospital. In the 2000’s, the clinic was dispersed, and the building fell into decay. It stands open to this day, unguarded and unprotected in any other way. It has survived more than a hundred fires, and become the subject of numerous urban legends about there being a room where time stood still forever or a whole number of secret underground floors.

Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects
Green Coppice House. History © OSAArchitects

Green Coppice House. Location plan © OSAArchitects

In the nearest future, the building and the land site will be again put up for sale but this time around there are parties that are interested in buying it: developers are preparing pre-project proposals for the auction, one of them being the concept proposed by OSA.

The architects were faced with a task of turning the land site with a derelict clinic into a residential complex, which was a task fraught with a number of difficulties. First, the client had a request for 75 000 square meters of housing floor space, and squeezing that amount into the confines of the land site was quite a tall order because the monument of architecture is situated in the middle of the site, sprouting numerous auxiliary buildings.

Green Coppice House. Master plan © OSAArchitects

Second, the architects had a self-imposed condition of making sure that they kept the moderate scale of the architectural monument and did not obscure it with modern architecture. And, finally, this part of the city misses the infrastructure that is generally expected for a residential neighborhood – schools, kindergartens, adequate driveways, and so on. Instead, the future complex will neighbor on medical institutions, maintenance buildings, and a dull fence, which will be built by the Novotikhvinsky Monastery once it buys out a few buildings in the neighborhood. The architects confess that they are not 100% sure themselves if the city can handle such a “housing” injection in this area. However, they are still proposing an integrated and motivated solution for all of the problems outlined above.

The Monument

Essentially, what remained of the monument is only its façades, which are to be preserved – everything else on the inside has been destroyed. Therefore, the floor plans will be changed completely, and the architects will adapt the contours of the building for the housing function. OSA was searching for every opportunity for densification, and at some point they even planned to add a few annexes to the old building – of the same scale but with neutral “background” façades. However, because the façades were to remain intact, there was only one loophole left: in the northern part of the building, there is an annex that was built in the 1990’s, which has no architectural value, and which is clearly seen on the birds-eye view photograph. By getting rid of the annex, the architects could quite righteously “augment” the architectural monument with a new building. This would not only yield some extra floor space but will also make it possible to complete the composition of the building, giving the architects a system of cozy little yards.

Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects

Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects

The New Architecture

In addition to the historical building adjusted to perform a new function, the site will get two types of new residential buildings – high-rise towers and something that the architects call “urban villas”.

The towers take most of the load of the technical and economic performance, allowing the architects to keep the historically correct scale on the rest of the site. Because of that, the high-rises will be placed in the northwest corner, which is the furthest from the park and the closest to the roads and city’s other high-rises. Considering the volumetric and planning options, the architects came to a cluster of three adherent sections consisting of large “slab” blocks with rather large spaces preserved between them.

Green Coppice House. The form search © OSAArchitects

Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects

The five lower floors, whose height matches that of the buildings of the clinic, are decorated with light-colored stone. Everything above that mark strives be lightweight to the point of dissolving in the air. This effect is created by the “strings” of the lamellas that cover end-to-end glazing, as well as by slits with inverted arches that can host terraces or winter gardens. The same arches connect the new building with the historical one, echoing the dramatic rows of thermal windows, and, in addition, these arches endow the building with a fair bit of metaphorical meaning – what comes to mind is the Heaven’s Gate, portals of the gothic temples, arcs of the harp, and Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical insights. They keep up the aura of mystery, which is something that the clinic building definitely has, not only as a derelict place but also as a place where back in the day life would meet death. The most intriguing element of all is the arch of an impressive height that marks the point where new building joins the old one and where the entrance to the inner little yards is situated. 

Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects

The third type of housing are the urban villas four to seven stories high, which on the one side overlook the Bolshakov Park, and on the other – the new pedestrian street and part of the historical building. For the urban villas, the architects came up with two façade design options: they can either be completely decorated with light-colored stone, which will enhance the high status of this housing segment, or they can be decorated with the same lamellas as used in the towers, which will give the buildings a likeness to the park pavilions. In both cases, the architects proceeded from the old building of the clinic as the topmost priority – the new architecture must not “steal the show”.

Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects

Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects

Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects

Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects

Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects

For the same purpose of showing the monument of architecture to the best advantage, the architects made spaces between the urban villas – the intermediate floors, which run on the level of the second floor and create yard spaces separated from the pedestrian street, are sometimes covered with a roof and sometimes aren’t, having additional entrances from the corridors on the second floors. The architects designed the “glades” with the circular square in mind – they used it as the main axis, from which the most picturesque views of the clinic building can be seen, and from which one can get to the pedestrian street.

he bottom floors of the buildings will host local businesses; one of the urban villas will host a kindergarten. 

In Between the Architecture

The architects are proposing a few solutions to gracefully introduce the new complex into the city life. From the north side, it will be possible to buy out the neighboring land sites, which are currently occupied by auxiliary buildings. If these buildings are to be demolished, it will be possible to make a square in front of the high-rise cluster and add a roundabout, at the same time improving the driveways because this place is the only link between the complex and the city. Also, in the north the complex borders on the Novotikhvinsky Monastery. It may be possible to make another pedestrian street there commanding a view of the temple architecture, the prospect of which was in fact discussed between OSA and the monastery, the latter still insisting on building a tall fence in order to protect itself from the bustle of the large housing complex.

Green Coppice House. The layout of developin the territory in stages © OSAArchitects

Green Coppice House. Master plan, Stage 2 © OSAArchitects

An important part of the concept is the pedestrian street that will stretch between the urban villas and the former clinic. The architects note that “the facade of the historical building was designed not for the frontal perception but for the glancing gaze of the pedestrian. The street will make it possible to better appreciate the beauty of the building from the best possible angles”.

Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects

The street space is rather sophisticated, with a few levels in it: a raised promenade and a few little yards that cascade down to the underground parking garage. The street, just like the parking garage, are accessible to general public, not just to the residents of the complex.

The design of this new fragment of the city space proposed by OSA to Ekaterinburg turned out to be very dense and filled with functions, viewing angles, and meanings. This is a place of the peaceful coexistence of new and old, public and private, elite and democratic, and even underground and overland. A place that – provided the project is implemented, of course – will probably attract people with its interesting polyrhythmic structure that will become part of the new urban space, which will be a case that is rare not only for Ekaterinburg but for this whole country as well.
Green Coppice House. The floor plans. The 1st floor © OSAArchitects
Green Coppice House. Analysis © OSAArchitects
Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects
Green Coppice House © OSAArchitects
Green Coppice House. The floor plans. The -1st floor © OSAArchitects
Green Coppice House. The floor plans. Floors 2-5 © OSAArchitects
Green Coppice House. The floor plans. Floors 18-29 © OSAArchitects
Green Coppice House. The floor plans. The 2nd floor © OSAArchitects
Green Coppice House. The floor plans. The section views © OSAArchitects

05 February 2019

author pht

Written by:

Alyona Kuznetsova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
​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.
Health Constructor
In this issue, we are publishing the concept of a standard clinic designed by UNK Project, which took second place in the competition organized by the Union of Architects of Russia in collaboration with the Healthcare Ministry.
​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.
Color and Line
The new successful techniques developed by A.Len for designing a kindergarten under budget constraints: the mosaic of irregular windows and working with color.
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.
The Countdown
The project that Evgeniy Gerasimov and Partners developed for Moscow’s Leningrad Avenue: the tallest building in the company’s portfolio, continuing the tradition of Moscow’s Stalin architecture.
White Town
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
On June 5, the winners of Moscow Architectural Award were announced. The winners list includes the project of a school in Troitsk for 2,100 students, with its own astronomy dome, IT testing ground, museum, and a greenhouse on the roof.
Pedagogical Architecture
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.
​Rational Arrangement
In this article, we are examining a complex of buildings and interiors of the first stage of the project that has recently become extremely popular – the Kommunarka clinic.
​Parallel Universe
In the “Parallel House” residence that he designed in the Moscow metropolitan area, the architect Roman Leonidov created a dramatic sculptural composition from totally basic shapes – parallelepipeds, whose collision turned into an exciting show.
In the Istra district of Moscow metropolitan area, the tandem of 4izmerenie and ARS-ST designed a sports complex – a monovolume that has the shape of a chamfered parallelepiped with a pointed “nose” like a ship’s bow.
​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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​Waves of Sound
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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.
​Wicker Vitality
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​Freedom Factory
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​The Flowing Lines
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​A City by the Water
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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
Evolution Design and T+T Architects reported about the completion of the interior design project of Sberbank headquarters on the Kutuzovsky Avenue. In the center of the atrium, hovers the “Diamant” meeting room; everything looks like a chest full of treasures, including the ones of a hi-tech kind.
​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
The list of new typologies of public spaces and public projects has been expanded yet again — thanks to Wowhaus. This time around, this company came up with a groundbreaking by Russian standards approach to creating a place where people and animals can communicate.
​Watched by the Angels from up Above
Held in the General Staff building of the Hermitage Museum, the anniversary exhibition of “Studio 44” is ambitious and diverse. The exhibition was designed to give a comprehensive showcase of the company’s architecture in a whole number of ways: through video, models, drawings, installations, and finally, through a real-life project, the Enfilade, which the exhibition opens up, intensifies, and makes work the way it was originally intended.
​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
The contest-winning ambitious grand-scale project of the main theater and concert complex of the Moscow area includes three auditoriums, a yard – a public area – a higher school of music, and a few hotels. It promises to become a high-profile center for the classical music festivals on a national scale.
​The Line of a Hardened Breakthrough
Designed by Stepan Liphart, the housing complex “Renaissance” continues the line of the historical center of Saint Petersburg, reinterpreting the Leningrad Art Deco and the neoclassical architecture of the 1930-50’s in reference to the civilization challenges posed by our century.
The Regeneration Experience
The housing project “Metsenat”, which occupies the area next to the Resurrection Church in Moscow’s Kadashi, has a long and complicated history, full of protests, victories, and hopes. Now the project is complete: the architects were able to keep the views, the scale, and a few historical buildings; we can examine the end result now. The project was developed by Ilia Utkin.
The Terraces of the Crystal Cape
Proposed by Nikita Yavein, the concept of a museum, educational, and memorial complex to be built in the city of Sevastopol avoids straightforward accents and over-the-top dramatics, interpreting the history of this place along with the specifics of its landscape, and joining the public space of the operated stairway and amphitheaters with an imposing monument.
​A New Unit
The housing city block within an IT park: Archimatika is combining innovative technologies with a human-friendly scale, and a cozy environment.