По-русски

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.

Written by:

Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

23 January 2020
Object
mainImg
Architect:
Yuliy Borisov
Firm:
UNK project
The new gravity center of this area appeared next to the “Prospect Vernadskogo” metro station, on the land site abandoned still in the 1990’s, which lay derelict for a long time: the three stories of an incomplete building behind the fence two steps away from the metro station created a depressive zone and caused justified concern of the local residents. This spatial hole was not exactly aesthetically pleasing to motorists either: while driving down the avenue from the city center they saw that the rhythmic pattern formed by the towers designed by Evgeny Rozanov (the project of 1975 included three towers, their construction being still incomplete) gave way to monotonous rank-and-file buildings which were definitely at odds with the status of this area.

At the same time, according to the client’s request who conducted a closed-door competition for the project of the business center, this place was to get a high-rise building with a rather impressive technical and economic performance. The obvious solution would have been to create an elongated parallelepiped, a giant trunk that would occupy the entire construction blueprint. However the architects of UNK Project came up with a more elegant solution that allowed them to meet the client’s requirements, at the same time keeping the optimum balance with the surroundings: the 14 story lens rises from a four-story plinth.

“Academic” business center on the Vernadskogo Avenue
Copyright: Photograph © Denis Zaitsev / UNK project


Considering the necessity of creating a true landmark here, the architects saw their task as designing a building that would fit in as tactfully as possible with the surrounding modernist context. Among other things, from the east side of the construction site, stands the Tsentrsoyuz i Minvostokstroy building (the project of 1968, under the supervision of Evgeny Stamo, construction of 1986) – a long slab with a characteristic entrance group of a curvilinear shape.

“Academic” business center on the Vernadskogo Avenue
Copyright: Photograph © Denis Zaitsev / UNK project


The form that the architects found for this building as well as the decoration of its façade with the lamellae, makes the volume visually lighter; in spite of its sculptural nature and in spite of its grand size, it becomes a dynamic object that changes continuously as perceived by pedestrians and motorists. Interesting is the fact that the façade lamellae, while giving and ethereal look to the visual appearance of the building, also help to bring out the conceptual meaning of the place: they display the portrait of the Russian scientist whose name is borne by the metro station and the avenue.

“Academic” business center on the Vernadskogo Avenue
Copyright: Photograph © Dmitry Chebanenko / UNK project


And, indeed, when still in the construction stage, when the construction site was surrounded with fences, the area got a new landmark that was attracting people’s attention not only with its shape, but also evoking people’s curiosity – whose portrait is gradually appearing on the facade? – still at that time the place became a true gravity center.

Today, after completing the landscaping project of the surrounding area, and after the opening of a pedestrian route, the bright-red spectacles sculpture, standing next to the sidewalk, and the backlight of the facades, noticeable even by daylight, enhanced that effect, marking the fact that the building belongs to this place, this city, and its people.

“Academic” business center on the Vernadskogo Avenue
Copyright: Photograph © Dmitry Chebanenko / UNK project


Avoiding a verbatim use of the architectural vocabulary of the 1970-80’s, UNK Project created a modern thing, yet strikingly resonant with the surrounding late-Soviet modernism: the sculptural shape, the color and plastique solutions of the facades – everything puts one in the mind of the best samples of modernism, yet without the dusty layer of nostalgia.

“Academic” business center on the Vernadskogo Avenue
Copyright: Photograph © Dmitry Chebanenko / UNK project


From an incomplete building to the lens idea

The story of creating the project of the business center and its realization is unique by the standards of today. At one of the architectural panel discussions that took place in spring this year, the chief architect of UNK Project, Yuliy Borisov, while sharing about the project of the business center “Academic”, the construction of which was all but completed at the moment, noted that its design stage took two years. This remark, seemingly insignificant, caused a fair amount of jealousy in many of his fellow colleagues, because in the realities of today, the design process, having hardly started, begins to run parallel to the construction. Possibly, one day this “parallel design” will become the usual practice, yet now it causes a lot of concern, as it can hardly be conducive to great results.

Furthermore, the project renders (see the publication of the project) differ very little from the photographs of the complete business center, and this considering the fact that the project is anything but standard – both technically and configuration-wise.

The first problem was the foundation that was laid within the framework of implementing the predecessor project. There is a metro line running underneath it. There was also a discussion about dismantling the foundation, different engineers and designers proposing different solutions. Already at that stage, the client got involved in the discussion, demonstrating his willingness to cooperate with the architects.

“Academic” business center on the Vernadskogo Avenue
Copyright: © UNK project


“Academic” business center on the Vernadskogo Avenue. Section view
Copyright: © UNK project


“The client did not hurry us up giving us an opportunity to work through all the details while still in the design stage and prevent possible construction problems. The mockups that we created in the process came in very handy for motivated explanations that sped up the decision making process – Yuliy Borisov notes – This referred both to the construction and the decoration details”.

For example, in order to avoid the necessity of using beams, which would have inevitably complicated the process of routing the engineering lines and noise insulation in the subsequent decoration of the office, the architects used the unique, by Moscow standards technology of concrete pouring into a large-span shell: inside the monolith concrete, they first placed the void-forming plastic balls, or the “blockouts”, that looked very much like footballs.

Vernadsky’s Face

Nowadays we, while going down the street, rarely wonder where it got its name from. And in Moscow this loss of connection between the place and its name is felt particularly acutely. And, while pretty much everyone understands just why the Red Square is “red”, the abundance of surnames in this city’s toponymy has long since stopped evoking in people any interest for the historical personalities, in whose honor these streets and squares were named. Probably, hardly anyone will remember why the Vernadskogo Avenue was named that way, yet with the introduction of the business center “Academic”, or, rather, the portrait of the Russian scientist on its facade, the very meaning of the place has changed, as well as the perception of the name of the avenue and the area around the metro station.

The architecture of this building, which looks as if it’s about to dissolve in the space, yet at the same time materializing the identity of the place, curiously rhymes the ideas of Vladimir Vernadsky himself, who foresaw the information society and who was developing the ideas of anthroposphere, the shell of our planet, created by human mind.

“Academic” business center on the Vernadskogo Avenue
Copyright: Photograph © Dmitry Chebanenko / UNK project


The technical solution for the scientist’s portrait – trimming in certain places the facade lamellae, widely used in modern architecture – required from the architects long calculations abs using several 3D modeling software applications. The architects took into account not only views from various vantage points but also the lighting options, to make sure that the image supports the rhythm of the building itself, and “works” with the neighboring buildings as well.

Another example of homage to modernism is the main sign of the business center: the name “Academic” is written in one flourish: according to the legend that is sometimes heard in the architectural studio, its author is Yuliy Borisov himself who wrote the name of the project on a piece of paper in order to have a calligrapher draw it properly, but the client asked to leave the flourish as it was. The sign is also beautifully backlit at night.

“Academic” business center on the Vernadskogo Avenue
Copyright: Photograph © Dmitry Chebanenko / UNK project


The architects took the edge off the modernist “seriousness” of the building by installing a sculpture in its immediate vicinity – the academician’s glasses were placed on the red line of the avenue; they can also be regarded as part of the landscaping project.

“Academic” business center on the Vernadskogo Avenue
Copyright: Photograph © Dmitry Chebanenko / UNK project


The human-friendly scale of the building for the pedestrians is also created at the expense of the glass facades of the 4-story rectangular plinth, upon which the architects placed a 14-story lens. Thanks to the large shop windows, the building is closely connected to the city space, and soon there will be shops, cafes, and entrance lobbies here.

Inside of “Academic”

The interiors of the building are also connected to the “academic” theme. “While the image of the building was quick to come – the sketch was created within one day – the interiors of the entrance zones and the public spaces took a lot more working time; we had to choose from several different options because we wanted to find a simple and self-explanatory solution, connected with the facades” – Yuliy Borisov comments on the search.

The first thing that catches the eye when you come into the building are the three gigantic sculptural armchairs, executed in the shape of the head of Vladimir Vernadsky, each two and a half meters tall. Thus, everyone who gets inside “Academic” can have an opportunity to be inside the professor’s head. The armchairs are executed from stainless steel.

“Academic” business center on the Vernadskogo Avenue
Copyright: © UNK project


Considering the interior from the point of view of ideology and philosophy, the architects also proposed to decorate it with the scientist’s quotes that are not only projected to the wall but are also whispered on the intercom in the public zones.

By the way, the public zones on the floors are separated from the elevator lobbies with glass, which makes it possible to enjoy 360-degree panoramic views from the elevators. This original solution – the glass partitions that were to correspond to the fire safety standards – turned out to be quite expensive, but the architects were able to convince the client not to save up on visual effects and do everything in accordance with the project.

  • zooming
    1 / 5
    Copyright: © UNK project
  • zooming
    2 / 5
    Copyright: © UNK project
  • zooming
    3 / 5
    Copyright: © UNK project
  • zooming
    4 / 5
  • zooming
    5 / 5



 

Architect:
Yuliy Borisov
Firm:
UNK project

23 January 2020

Written by:


Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
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.
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.
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.
​The Aperture Effect
For a housing complex built in the town of Pushkino in the Moscow metropolitan area, KPLN Architects designed facades that adjust the stream of light by using the wall geometry.
​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.
​Breakwater
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.
​Waves of Sound
The conceptual design of a music school: proximity to an Alvar Aalto building, expressive organics, and an attempt to draw public attention to a “low-profile” competition.
​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.
​Wicker Vitality
Next to the Dubrovka metro station, ADM has designed a Vitality housing complex with a polychrome mixture of Klinker brick on its ridged facades.
​Freedom Factory
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.