The project of a residential complex situated behind the Bypass Channel in Saint Petersburg is based on the architects’ search for the optimum balance between the construction regulations, the surrounding context, and their belief in the relevance of pure modernist architecture, free of any signs of stylization.
Written by: Alyona Kuznetsova Translated by: Anton Mizonov
The construction site is located in the historical part of the city that back in the day was called “Karetnaya” – not far away from the Ligovsky Avenue and the Obvodny Kanal metro station, behind House 28 on the Prilukskaya Street. Currently, in the opposite corner of the block, they are building the “House at the Karetny Bridge”, also ten stories high, all the other buildings on the block being significantly older – tenement houses of the early XX century, one Khrushchev-era house, warehouses and factory buildings, all situated in a rather chaotic manner in respect to one another. About the same kind of morphology is to be observed in the neighboring blocks. The most noticeable nearby building is the red-brick “Palace of Culture of the Railway Workers” (the Soviet term for “community center” – translator’s note) that bears the status of a heritage site of federal importance, and the tallest local building is the “automatic telephone station” that shares the space across the future residential complex with a no-name park.
The house that was built in 1905, which is also situated on the land site and borders on the red line of the Prilukskaya Street is in fact one of the buildings of the former mica factory, which since the early 2000’s has been occupied by offices. There are plans for clearing the building from all of the later additions, renovating its façades, restoring the gable roof, and giving it a new sports function. Since the floor plans do not bear the protected status, the intermediate floors will be dismantled altogether – this will yield enough space for three light and spacious gyms, as well as all the necessary auxiliary premises with a total floor space of about 500 square meters.
The leader of the architectural firm, Anatoly Stolyarchuk, confesses that working in the historical part of Saint Petersburg requires pinpoint accuracy: in order to gracefully introduce a new building into the already-formed city fabric, one must take into account lots of factors, and sometimes mutually cancelling requirements. Specifically, the architect shares that he would have been happy to align all the residential buildings along a single line, but this plan was thwarted by the insolation norms – the first floor in this case does not get enough of ambient light. The “coefficient of complexity” also rises due to the fire safety regulations, the logic of the driveways, the necessity to ensure a sufficient amount of parking spots, and providing enough room for a playground. In addition, the architect says, meeting the developer’s brief with the predetermined set of apartments and at the same time coming up with decent architecture is like walking on a knife’s edge. Such situation the architects oftentimes compare to a mathematical problem or a jigsaw puzzle.
The “equation” of this particular land site could be solved in two ways: by placing the new building behind the old one and perpendicular to it, or parallel to the Prilukskaya Street. The first option was discarded by the architects because they reasoned that making the building face the street with one of its side ends would be the wrong thing to do. Therefore, the buildings are positioned alongside the street and slightly recede into the site. This gives a fair amount of air to the historical building, masking the height of the neighboring buildings, takes them a little further away from the street with its inevitable cars, and opens up more windows on the south side. This way, the red line within the confines of the site is all-but-crossed by the laconic pavilion of the underground parking garage entrance, the historical building, the substation, and the parking lot.
After all of the restrictions were addressed, the architects came up with a two-part composition of the residential complex. The section behind the historical building is narrow and belongs to the rare-for-Russia “gallery” typology – all of the apartments in it are facing the Prilukskaya Street because making windows in the north wall would have been impossible because of the proximity of the border of the neighboring site. Therefore the gallery turned out to be without windows, like a corridor, while the outside wall turned out to be Empire-style-laconic. However, the absence of windows allowed the architects to find near this wall of the house a place for the playground because a blind wall cancels the regulation 12-meter setback.
The second building, which is pushed a little bit closer to the Prilukskaya Street, consists of two sections; it is thicker, and its windows overlook both the street and the yard. Its tenth upper floor is fully glazed and is set back from the edge, forming a number of penthouses – apartments with a slightly larger floor space and commanding fine views of the city. The receding upper floor of the outstanding building is included in the carefully calculated play, thanks to which, when viewed from the crossing with the Tambovskaya Street, the cornices of both units of the new building align practically into a single line with each other and with the cornice of the pseudo-Empire-style house of 1899 standing at the crossroads. The modern façade pattern, which unites pairs of stories along the verticals, also echoes the rhythm of the surrounding houses: four tiers of visually paired windows echo the four floors of the historical building (even though we will note at this point that in the development drawing the new building is almost twice as tall as its historical neighbor).
The façades are designed in a single key. The architects believe that the new construction must fit in with the scale of the existing buildings, but at the same time they observe the self-imposed prohibition against working in “pseudo-styles”: in order to tie in the old and the new at a deeper level, the architects, according to Anatoly Stolyarchuk, place their bets on the rhythm, proportions, and plastique.
The plastique is based on the active “layered-like” character of the street façade, which helps to mask and soften the “stair” that appears between the two buildings. The groups of stanzas in the east and west parts forms outstanding slabs of risalits that flank the volumes; as for the stanzas in the central part, closer to the point where the two buildings come together, these are situated in an exquisite staggered order – this way the architects made sure that they avoided the unpleasant “thermometer” look.
All of the stanzas are marked with thin vertical strokes – a visual technique that reminds us about the airing slits, while in fact it is meant to give the façade a more slender look, highlighting its “noble” character. The stripes on the “staggered” stanzas are placed in a regular order, while on the projections they alternate, placed sometimes on the left and sometimes on the right; they intrude into the horizontals of the intermediate floors and take on an Empire-style beige color that becomes the basis for the coloristic dialogue with the historical city.
The same soft ochre color is picked up by the casings of the air conditioning units set before the windows in the gaps between the stanzas, and by the U-shaped marquees above that hallway entrances. The main color of the building is light-gray to the point of white, yellow inclusions forming the décor – and the result looks as if its façades “overturn” the logic of the walls of the old Saint Petersburg, and, specifically, the already mentioned pseudo-Empire building: it has white details set against yellow background, and in our case the picture is curiously inverted. It is planned that the façades will be stuccoed, which will also will make them fit in with the surrounding buildings.
It is plain to see that the slender and “tiled”, light-grisaille house echoes other projects by Anatoly Stolyarchuk – ones on the Esperova Street and on the Krasnogo Kursanta Street – all of them to a certain degree can be considered “representatives” of the contextual modernism, noninvasive author architecture, geometrically inscribed into context. We will also note here that the house, actually, rather tall, does everything not only to address its architectural context but also to “dissolve” in it, decreasing its volume and its influence – for example, by means of gray pixel strokes in its side ends. Meanwhile, here, behind the Ligovsky Avenue, at the border with large-scale industrial parks, 10-story height, even by the standards of Saint Petersburg, looks quite self-consistent.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
In this issue, we are showing all the seven projects that participated in a closed-door competition to create a concept for the headquarters of Gazprom Neft, as well as provide expert opinions on those projects.
The Outer Space
Honoring the 300th anniversary of the Kuznetsk coal fields in 2021, a new passenger terminal of the Aleksey Leonov Airport in the city of Kemerovo will be built, designed by GK Spectrum and ASADOV Architectural Bureau.
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
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
On the Vernadskogo Avenue, next to the metro station, appeared a high-rise landmark that transformed the entire area: designed by UNK Project, the “Academic” business center uncovered, in the form of its architecture, the meanings of the local place names.
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.