For the project of a large urban area in Kaliningrad, Asadov architects proposed a few original solutions that change one’s idea of modern housing construction and comfortable city environment.
Written by: Elena Petukhova Translated by: Anton Mizonov
08 April 2019
The company “AvangardInvestProekt” invited Asadov architects to work upon a fundamentally new and experimental format of housing construction. What the architects got to work with was a territory of about 20 hectares in the east of Kaliningrad. A triangular land site thrusts one of its sharp corners into the East Road Junction.
Initially, the developer thought out the marketing strategy, giving the future complex the name of “Russian Europe”, and then he organized among the Kaliningrad architects a competition for the best design of the future residential area. However, the organizers were not happy with the proposals submitted by the contestants. In search of brighter ideas, the developer visited a few architecture and construction trade shows, at one of which he for the first time met Asadov architects, which at that moment was summing up the results of their long-standing experience of implementing integrated land development projects, turning it into a manifesto of comfortable urban environment with housing that comes at a budget-friendly price. These fundamentals served as the basis for the project called “Non-sleeping Belt” that brought Asadov a victory in the Moscow contest for renovation projects. The similarity between the architects’ and developers’ vision became the starting point for their collaboration. The team of architects embarked upon a survey trip to Belgium and Netherlands. Then they transformed their impressions into an architectural and town planning format that combined European quality and Russian soul.
The Moscow architects proposed a concept of a full-fledged urban residential area, in which different types of housing would be combined with a highly developed business, recreational, and social infrastructure. The entire construction is clearly structured: as one gets further away from the border with the sector of private residences that joins the land site from the south side, the character of the housing construction also changed from villas and townhouses to multi-block, terraced and multi-section buildings.
Closer to the north side of the land site, the density and the height of the buildings also increase. The area’s tallest building – a 100-meter tower with apartments and studios – flanks the central square – a typical construction element to be seen in many European cities that sprouts a few pedestrian boulevards. Next to the East Junction, there are four city blocks that consist of sections of varying height and façade design. They form the face of the area with broad driveways designed as entrance portals.
The housing blocks that stretch along the south and northeast borders of the site are divided by a “green beam” with a large recreation zone and a few cultural and educational buildings. There is a cultural center standing next to a circular amphitheater, while closer to the northwest border the architects placed a kindergarten and a private school. There is yet another large municipal school on the neighboring site.
The distinctive feature of the concept is a large number of public territories, different in their format and function, and a system of separating the automotive and pedestrian traffic within the neighborhood.
Adhering to the principle of vehicle-free yards, the architects relocated some of the driveways and all of the parking lots into a two-level stylobate. The outside perimeter of the stylobate houses public and commercial premises designed to accommodate for small to mid-size business. For the in-block communication, three levels are used: underground, overland, and the top level of the stylobate. The second and third are chiefly pedestrian ones. Interestingly, the last one is designed as a system of roofed galleries, which makes it possible to ensure maximum comfort for the residents. The architects proudly say that you can actually “walk around the neighborhood in your slippers without ever getting your feet wet”.
But then again, the team of Asadov architects proposed yet another unconventional recreational bonus – a system of water channels that utilizes the close ground water and the drainage system. The channels come with pedestrian embankments on two levels.
The final chord of the system of public territories became a large square in the center of the “green wedge”. Using all the three levels of landscaping, the architects created in its middle a multifunctional space with a circular amphitheater and a bridge rubbing along its perimeter. There is a waterfall flowing down from under the bridge, which at night turns into a screen of an open-air movie theater. The bridge itself is just as sophisticated as everything that surrounds it. It plays the part of “Semiramis hanging gardens” and at the same time is a symbolic “European embassy”: there will be twelve trees planted on the bridge, as many as there are stars on the flag of the European Union.
In addition to the concept itself, the Asadov team, together with the developer, presented a mathematical proof that this location is in fact the geographic center of Europe. Calculating the middle between the extreme points of the European continent, they came to a conclusion that the center of the European oecumene is in fact the roundabout on the East Junction. For this roundabout, Asadov architects came up with an installation: the mown-out outlines of the map of Europe with miniature houses standing for the capitals of the European countries. In the center of this Mini-Europe, the authors proposed to install a vertical “periscope” stela that will make it possible to see the neighboring construction site from a birds-eye view.
The probability that everything will be built exactly the way it was designed is pretty low but this example still vividly shows that this architectural team allows of no compromise.
Who is Alexey Shchusev? In the last couple of weeks, since the architect’s 150th birthday, different individuals have answered this question differently. The most detailed, illustrated, and elegantly presented response is an exhibition held in two buildings of the Museum of Architecture on Vozdvizhenka. Four curators, a year and a half of work performed by the entire museum, and exhibition design by Sergey Tchoban and Alexandra Sheiner – in this article, we take you on a tour of the exhibition and show what’s what in it.
A five-story housing complex designed by Stepan Liphart in Kazan, responds to the stylistically diverse context with its form, both integral and agile, and as for the vicinity of the “Ekiyat” movie theater, the complex responds to it with a semblance of theater curtain folds, and active plastique of its balconies, that bear some resemblance to theater boxes. Even if excessively pompous a little bit, the complex does look fresh and modern. One will have a hard time finding Art Deco elements in it, even though the spirit of the 1930s, run through the filter of neo-modernism, is still clearly felt, just as a twist of the Occident.
The restoration of the Salt Warehouse for the Zvenigorod Museum, on the one hand, was quite accurately implemented according to the design of the People’s Architect, and, on the other hand, it was not without some extra research and adjustments, which, in this case, was quite beneficial for the project. The architects discovered the original paint color, details of the facades, and studied the history of rebuilds of this building. As a result, the imposing character of the empire building, the oldest one in the city, and the differences of later additions were accurately revealed. Most importantly, however, the city got a new cultural and public space, which is already “working” in full swing.
From Moscow to Khabarovsk
This year, the works submitted by the students of the Genplan Institute of Moscow included a proposal for revitalizing Moscow’s “Pravda” complex with its structures designed by Ilia Golosov, landscaping an East Siberian town, located a 12-hour drive away from the nearest big city, and three versions of turning a derelict “pioneer camp” into an educational hub, similar to “Sirius”. Two sites out of three have an interested client, so chances are that the students’ works will be ultimately implemented.
Harmonization of Intentions
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Cité for Naro-Fominsk
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A Tower and a Manor House
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The Warm Stone
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For All Times
The modular technology combined with the building material of glued wood allows the architectural company Rhizome to create quick-mount hotels (no less!) that are highly rated by the architectural community: last week, the new hotel “Vremena Goda. Igora” scored three awards. Below, we are examining the project in detail.
The Other Way Around
Few awards instead of many, the award ceremony conducted on the first day instead of last, projections instead of sketch boards, trees inside and art objects outside – the renewal of the Architecton festival seemingly took the sure-fire path of turning all the professional traditions upside down – or at least those that happened to be within the scope of the organizers’ attention. There’s certainly a lot to pick on, but the exhibition does feel fresh and improvisational. It looks that pretty soon these guys will set trends for Moscow as well. We shared with you about some elements of the festival in our Telegram channel, and now we are examining the whole thing.
ArchiWOOD-14: Building Bridges
This season, the festival’s jury decided not to award a grand prize: judging by the fact that the shortlist included several projects that had not reached the award in previous years, and the “best house” was pronounced to be an undoubtedly beautiful but mass-produced model, the “harvest” of wooden buildings in 2023 was not too abundant. However, there were many unusual typologies among the finalists, and restoration and revitalization projects received their share of recognition. Let’s take a look at all the finalists.
The Chinese Symphony
The construction of the Chinese center “Huaming Park” has been a long story that came to fruition relatively recently. The building is adjacent to a traditional Chinese garden, but it is very modern, laconic and technological, and the simple-in-form, yet spectacular, white lamellae promise to someday be incorporated as a media facade. This complex is also truly multifunctional: it contains different types of living spaces, offices, a large fitness center, conference halls and restaurants – all wrapped in one volume. You can comfortably hold international forums in it, having everything you may possibly need at your fingertips, and going outside only to take a walk. In this article, we are examining this complex in detail.
Ensemble of Individualities
Construction of the first phase of the INDY Towers multifunctional complex on Kuusinen Street, designed by Ostozhenka, has started. The project opens new angles of similarity between the column and the skyscraper, and we examine the nuances and parallels.
Black and Red
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The Mastery of Counterpoint
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In memory of Jean-Louis Cohen
Marina Khrustaleva – about Jean-Louis Cohen (20.07.1949-7.08.2023), French architect and architectural historian that specialized in modern architecture and city planning.
On the Hills
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The Magic Carpet
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A Copper Step
Block 5, designed by ASADOV architects as part of the “Ostrov” (“Island”) housing complex, is at the same time grand-scale, conspicuous thanks to its central location – and contextual. It does not “outshout” the solutions used in the neighboring buildings, but rather gives a very balanced implementation of the design code: combining brick and metal in light and dark shades and large copper surfaces, orthogonal geometry on the outside and flexible lines in the courtyard.
The Light for the Island
For the first time around, we are examining a lighting project designed for a housing complex; but then again, the authors of the nighttime lighting of the Ostrov housing complex, UNK lighting, proudly admit that this project is not just the largest in their portfolio, but also the largest in this country. They describe their approach as a European one, its chief principles being smoothness of transitions, comfort to the eye, and the concentration of most of the light at the “bottom” level – meaning, it “works” first of all for pedestrians.
Spots of Light
A new housing complex in Tyumen designed by Aukett Swanke is a very eye-pleasing example of mid-rise construction: using simple means of architectural expression, such as stucco, pitched roofs, and height changes, the architects achieve a “human-friendly” environment, which becomes a significant addition to the nearby park and forest.
Ledges and Swirls
The housing complex “Novaya Zarya” (“New Dawn”) designed by ASADOV Architects will become one of the examples of integrated land development in Vladivostok. The residential area will be characterized by various typologies of its housing sections, and a multitude of functions – in addition to the social infrastructure, the complex will include pedestrian promenades, shopping malls, office buildings, and recreational facilities. The complex is “inscribed” in a relief with a whopping 40-meter height difference, and overlooks the Amur Bay.
Agglomeration on an Island
Recently, an approval came for the master plan of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk agglomeration, which was developed by a consortium headed by the Genplan Institute of Moscow. The document provides for the creation of 12 clusters, the totality of which will give the region a qualitative leap in development and make the island more self-sufficient, more accessible, and less dependent on the mainland. We are inviting you to examine the details.
Ivan Grekov: “A client that wants to make a building that is “about architecture” is...
In this article, we are talking to Ivan Grekov, the leader of the architectural company KAMEN (translates as “stone”), the author of many high-profile projects that have been built in Moscow in the recent years, about the history of his company, about different approaches to form making, about different meanings of volume and facade, and about “layers” in working with the environment – at the example of two projects by Osnova Group. These are the MIRAPOLIS complex on the Mira Avenue in Rostokino, whose construction began at the end of last year, and the multifunctional complex in the 2nd Silikatny Proezd on the Zvenigorodsky Highway; recently, it received all the required approvals.
Grasping and Formulating
The special project “Tezisy” (“Abstracts”), showcased at Arch Moscow exhibition in Moscow’s Gostiny Dvor, brought together eight young “rock stars of architecture”, the headliner being Vladislav Kirpichev, founder of the EDAS school. In this article, we share our impressions of the installations and the perspectives of the new generation of architects.
The White Tulip
Currently, there are two relevant projects for the Great Cathedral Mosque in Kazan, which was transferred to a land site in Admiralteiskaya Sloboda in February. One of them, designed by TsLP, was recently showcased at Arch Moscow. In this article, we are covering another project, which was proposed during the same period for the same land site. Its author is Aleksey Ginzburg, the winner of the 2022 competition, but now the project is completely different. Today, it is a sculptural “flower” dome symbolizing a white tulip.
The architectural company ATRIUM opened a gallery of its own in a metaverse. Inside, one can examine the company’s approach and main achievements, as well as get some emotional experience. The gallery is already hosting cyberspace business meetings and corporate events.
From Darkness to Light
Responding to a lengthy list of limitations and a lengthy – by the standards of a small building – list of functions, Vladimir Plotkin turned the project of the Novodevichy Monastery into a light, yet dynamic statement of modern interpretation of historical context, or, perhaps, even interpretation of light and darkness.