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​The Infinity Sign

In this issue, we are giving a more detailed coverage of the project that won in the “Gorizont” (“Horizon”) competition devoted to designing a campus situated on the roof of the most noticeable building of Saint Petersburg’s Sevkabel Factory overlooking the river. The landmark shape with a multitude of versions and interpretations is surrounded by a highly developed public space – what more can a modern man ask for?

author pht

Written by:
Julia Tarabarina
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

01 July 2019
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Founded back in 1879 by Carl Siemens, Russia’s oldest cable factory, renamed after the Great October Socialist Revolution into “Sevkabel” (“North Cable”), is situated in the west part of the Vasilyevsky Island in the Neva estuary, not far away from the brutalist building of the Morvokzal (“Sea Terminal”) designed by Vitaly Sokhin (not to be confused with the Sea Façade of Saint Petersburg). For years, the Sevkabel land has been undergoing postindustrial transformations: the production process was reorganized, it began to consume less space, and the vacated premises hosted creative studios, restaurants, and a farmers’ market; the waterfront was also renovated, and the place became popular. Meanwhile, it is planned that the nonhazardous production will be preserved here but now it will coexist with the city life. The master plan for the territory of the factory was designed by Khvoya Architects, and the same architects are working on renovating Building B, a large concrete building on the bank of Neva. This building must become something like a river façade of the renovated territory because it looks really great from the water, and, at the same time, it commands magnificent river views as well. For this reason, for “making a campus on the roof of Production Building B within the framework of the next stage of redevelopment of the territory”, the managing company Sevkabelport organized an open-door international competition named “Gorizont”. Technically, the operator of the competition was “Project Baltia” magazine. The results were announced at the end of May. The competition was won by the project developed by DNK ag, more of which we are covering below.

Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. View from the river
Copyright: © DNK ag
Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. The sea facade
Copyright: © DNK ag


Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Location plan
Copyright: © DNK ag


The contestants were to do the following tasks: to place on the roof of the Soviet concrete building an open-air public space overlooking the Neva River, whose estuary here is about a kilometer wide; to create a project that could claim a landmark status – not least because of the fact that this year they launched a regular tourist boat coming into the estuary, making it a part of the city’s representative “river façade”. And, finally, they had to find room for some office premises in the roof. The authors were issued with a scheme of approximate loads that, according to estimates, the framework of the building could bear – according to the provided data, it was clear that chiefly the building could be more loaded on the eastern, right-hand side (if watched from the river), and less loaded on the left-hand side.

Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”.
Copyright: © DNK ag


Which determined the composition of the buildup proposed by DNK ag. The bulk of the office part was positioned on the right; it got an iconic shape of two cable coils, looking similar to the ones that are exhibited on the territory of the cluster as a reminder of the factory’s profile, but, of course, not literally replicated – the ones that are on the roof are slender and thin, especially from the side. Still another association that this composition brings about – the infinity sign – was announced by the authors themselves, and, as the architects share, the organizers warmed up to the idea.

Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”.
Copyright: © DNK ag


The disks turned out to be the perfectly ergonomic shape for placing the offices inside of them: two continuous contours of glass, the inner and the outer one, ensure an abundance of ambient light. On the outside, there is a string of breathtaking views of the city and the river, virtually a 360-degree panorama of the city skyline, also an infinity of sorts.

Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. View from the office
Copyright: © DNK ag


The width of the arc-shaped volumes allows for all kinds of floor plans, both of the “study” and “open space” type – the architects give examples of different options. The useful floor space is occupied by the staircase and elevators as little as possible, two of them being already there in the building (they only need to be extended), and still another one at the intersection of two disks, which ensures equal spacing of the premises, the authors of the project emphasize. On the same central axis, a spiral staircase may appear – if there is one key tenant, this staircase will help to link the two floors with an impressive-looking “swirl”. In the circular yard of the eastern “disc”, there is a yard for the employees’ recreation, invisible to the public eye, yet with an open sky overhead.

Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. The inner office yard
Copyright: © DNK ag


Underneath the same disk (the one that is situated closer to the side end of the building), the architects found room for ventilation chambers and mechanical rooms that, when arranged in this way, do not spoil the silhouette of the building, being modestly hidden underground.

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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. The buildup concept
    Copyright: © DNK ag
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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Plan of the 2nd floor
    Copyright: © DNK ag
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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Plan of the 1st floor
    Copyright: © DNK ag
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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Section view
    Copyright: © DNK ag
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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Section view
    Copyright: © DNK ag
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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Schematic section view
    Copyright: © DNK ag


This solution is not just optimum buy it also looks like a peculiar study of the perfect office space: the quintessence raised to the level of landmark laconism. Because, what is an office, basically speaking? It is a box with glass walls and an atrium in the middle for extra light. And what we are seeing here is the composition of two slices of this typology, brought to the efficient circular shape, without the atrium glazing, and even without corners. It was still Konstantin Melnikov who back in the day was wont to say that the corners are always in the way – let’s remember his house now, shall we? Here is yet another association, this time from the classic avant-garde tradition.

The discs are placed with a shift one above the other, in a staircase fashion, as if flying saucers were landing on the roof one by one, on a tight cosmic port schedule. The building material that the authors are recommending – Corten, oxidized iron – makes the discs look even more like the gears of some gigantic mechanism arrested in mid-motion, which further enhances the industrial architecture theme and is read particularly clearly in the model, in which the architects did use Corten plates. The relief of the stripes on the edges of the discs strengthens their likeness with gears and coils – and generally enhances the industrial image.

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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Model
    Copyright: © DNK ag
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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Model
    Copyright: © DNK ag
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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Model
    Copyright: © DNK ag


This retro technological image of “rusty” coils from the side of the Kozhevennaya Line also echoes the Corten “pylon” slabs, designed and made by Khvoya as the decoration of the main entrance to Building B.

Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. View from the Kozhevennaya Line
Copyright: © DNK ag


Back to the discs of the offices and the roof, though! More than a half of the open space is public. Two thirds of the upper disc, the bundles of whose pillars come together at the yard contour underneath the “skylight”, serve as the awning above the open yard. This is a transition zone that includes the entrance to the offices from the roof; its steps, replicating the arc of the other disc, are juxtaposed with the amphitheater. This cantilevered structure is very large; rather, it is not even a cantilever but a whole house on legs – it not only overhangs beautifully, but it is also large enough to give protection from the inevitable rain or rare sunshine of Saint Petersburg. The part covered by the awning is also interpreted by the architects as expo space that is protected from the rain.

Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. The yard, entrance
Copyright: © DNK ag


In the middle of the open part of the roof, there is a glass casing of the central stairway – part of the reconstruction of the building by the Khvoya project. Behind it, there is an open square for concerts and other public events; its main peculiarity consists in the fact that it is transformable: you can create here different compositions and partitions by means of moving the mobile benches and tubs with decorative trees. Further on, next to the open western edge, there is a cafe pavilion, whose two sides are turned into the stairs of the amphitheater. From here, just like from the roof of the café, one will be able to watch the shows.

Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Schemes
Copyright: © DNK ag


Generally speaking, the architects had their fill of playing with elevations and depressions: according to the project, the entire floor of the roof will be elevated in order to make sure that the existing concrete fence does not stop people from admiring the panorama. However, the pavement has in it dents for hammocks for meditative rest. Alongside the panorama, stretches a string of “bumps” of benches that sometimes spring up with two or three steps of a mini-amphitheater for contemplating the water and the city. In the north part of the open roof, DNK ag placed a small weather station for the Arctic Museum, which, according to the project, will be placed, among other things, in the main part of Building B.

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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Night life
    Copyright: © DNK ag
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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. The roof with a bar
    Copyright: © DNK ag
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    Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Axonometry
    Copyright: © DNK ag


In a word, the functions of the open space are flexible here and can support a whole number of various scenarios. And, to cap it all, one will also be able to take a walk on the roof – there will a looped route about 400 meters long. The details are to come up in the process of realization but so far there is an idea of making a loop of the second disc on the level of the roof, and a looped sightseeing platform on the roof of the first cantilevered disc.

What they ultimately got here was a curious type of office – not exactly groundbreaking but still rare in these parts: on the one side, there is this part of the cluster of the former factory, and, on the other side, a completely new building in a very advantageous location, high up, and with great panoramas – the perfect place for some kind of headquarters, surrounded by a large number of public places, arranged in a sophisticated way in terms of their importance and accessibility, yet still flexible. This project is very postindustrial and at the same time this is a landmark building, a “sign on the wall”, essentially illustrating the peculiarities of Saint Petersburg: this city is horizontal, yet it likes an architectural highlight; in its best parts, your gaze wanders from one landmark to another. And – behold – you’ve got a horizontal here, and a telltale highlight, whose industrial imagery makes a perfect match for the “constructivist” lintel to the transport terminal that is placed closer to the river and at a distance from Building B: from here, the cables used to be loaded directly on ships. Which can be noticed from the river, but especially – from the waterfront.

Concept of the public and office campus on the roof of Production Facility B on the territory of “Sevkabel Port”. Waterfront
Copyright: © DNK ag


01 July 2019

author pht

Written by:

Julia Tarabarina
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.
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.
​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
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The Countdown
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White Town
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​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
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​Breakwater
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​Stairway to Heaven
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​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
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​Wicker Vitality
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​Freedom Factory
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​The Flowing Lines
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​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
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​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
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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.
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.