По-русски

​Architectural Laboratory

A-Len has developed and patented the “Perfect Apartments” program, which totally eliminates “bad” apartment layouts. In this article, we are sharing how this program came around, what it is about, who can benefit from it, and how.

Alyona Kuznetsova

Written by:
Alyona Kuznetsova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

11 December 2020
Overview
mainImg
Point of growth

Saint Petersburg’s A-Len Architectural Bureau has a division, whose name is not exactly habitual: the architectural laboratory. This division was formed in 2009 in response to the economic crisis, which significantly reduced the pace of construction and the number of contracts. The leader of the company Sergey Oreshkin decided to use the idle period to reflect on the experience accumulated over the recent decades, find new approaches to architectural design, and come up with the workload for the large staff that he did not want to dismiss. Since only housing construction was doing relatively well, the company focused specifically on this field.
This is how the program called “A.Len Perfect Apartments” came around – a knowledge base of apartment layouts that the company has been using as the basis for all of the housing projects that it designs since 2012.

“The perfect apartments” are to be found in high-end projects, such as the housing complex “Golden City” on the wash-up land of the Vasilievsky Island, and in the regions – for example, in the housing complex “Bunin”, where the layouts could be easily adjusted to fit a sophisticated stair-like structure. The program can be adapted to various classes of housing: standard, comfort, and business, as well as to mixed typologies – a vivid example here is the “Prospect Mira” compound in Ekaterinburg.

In Soviet times, such developments were provided by design research institutes; today, these things are done by large development holdings. Architectural offices, however, rarely attempt to tackle such large-scale tasks.

  • zooming
    1 / 8
    “Bunin” housing complex
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    2 / 8
    Golden City housing complex
    Copyright: © KCAP+Orange Architects & A-Len
  • zooming
    3 / 8
    Skandi Klubb housing complex
    Copyright: © A-Len & Semren & Mansson
  • zooming
    4 / 8
    “Dom na Lvovskoi” housing complex
    Copyright: © A-Len
  • zooming
    5 / 8
    The “Printsip” house on the Dvinskaya Street
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    6 / 8
    “Lazurit” House
    Copyright: © A-Len
  • zooming
    7 / 8
    YIT house on the Chapaeva Street
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    8 / 8
    "Me, Romantic" housing complex
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len


The program is based on a study of typologies of Soviet, modern Russian, and foreign housing, as well as the company’s experience of working with the marketing and sales departments of modern developers, as well as on error analysis.

Sergey Oreshkin notes that the source of all issues with modern apartment layouts is the absence of in-depth scientific research, for which the architectural companies have no resources, while the government is studiously ignoring the problem.

Using the example of such a simple indicator as the width of the building, which affects the depth of the apartment (counting from the window), and its square footage, one can easily trace how the planning solutions have evolved, regardless of the class of the housing construction.

When the economy was on the rise and decisions were made too quickly, the width of residential buildings could reach 27 meters – and this, considering the fact that the sunlight penetrates at best 6-6.5 meters. Besides excessively long or L-shaped dark rooms, such houses feature giant anterooms, closets, and bathrooms, for which the buyer pays exactly the same price as for a square meter of a sunlit kitchen.

  • zooming
    1 / 4
    Class “STANDARD”, a studio, S=15,67 square meters, S=26,29 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    2 / 4
    Class “STANDARD”, 1K, S=31.16 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    3 / 4
    Class “STANDARD”, 2K, S=51.93 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    4 / 4
    Class “STANDARD”, 3K, S=66.31 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len


As for the town planning techniques, the apartment layouts were strongly influenced by the spreading of the so-called “perimeter construction groups”, based on the idea of an isolated yard, similar to “well” yards of Saint Petersburg, only on a quite different scale. Such houses had too many apartments located in the inner corners, where it was virtually impossible to isolate neighboring apartments from one another, and the problems with echo and sound penetration turned out to be considerable.

In such corner apartments, the inner wall was longer than the outer one; there was one less window, and, hence, there was a lot less natural light. A healthy alternative would be a not-too-wide section, room proportions close to a perfect square, and the efficiency of every square meter.

author photo

Andrey Ponomarev The leader of the development division of Pervostroitel

The core of the apartment range in the “Prospect Mira” compound consists of two- and three-room apartments, rather popular with the buyers. Single-room apartments do not sell that well, but, probably, this has to do with their relatively expensive price tag. The apartments of an unusual format – for example, double-height ones, have almost been sold out, and it was them that aroused a lot of interest for the project as part of the general marketing campaign. We had a lot of requests for them. According to our observations, what is the most popular with our clients are the most functional layouts – with master bedrooms, two or more bathrooms, kitchen-living room, and storage space.

The apartments offered by A-Len are diverse and balanced enough to meet the needs of the audience. The apartments of larger formats have unique advantages: double height, panoramic glazing, and master bedrooms. These unique solutions are what makes us different from the competition and gives more possibilities to our clients.


  • zooming
    1 / 4
    A double-level apartment, 4К, S= 81.80 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    2 / 4
    A double-level apartment with a fireplace, 5Е, S=166,98 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    3 / 4
    An apartment with a terrace, 4Е, S=143,86 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    4 / 4
    An office apartment 1К, S=60,53 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len


How the program works

The knowledge base already includes more than 5,000 successful layouts, which are grouped into four major categories: business, comfort, economy, and special-type apartments, which are not wide-spread on the market yet. The latter include such things as two-level apartments, duplexes, corner, side-end apartments, and office apartments. The business-class apartments are characterized by a wider pitch of the axis grid, bigger area, and diversity of functional zones.

The base can be used as a constructor set: the architects developed for each class of apartments room modules with the optimum area and furniture arrangement. By using them, it is possible to transform individual apartments, as well as whole floors.

The residential complex Golden City, which is being built by Glorax Development on the first shoreline of the Gulf of Finland, implements several interesting planning solutions at once. The top floors have in them apartments with private terraces; in addition, the complex features two-level apartments, all of which command beautiful gulf views. Some of the buildings have solutions with a window in the bathroom or in the hall – this widens the circle for design ideas when decorating such apartments, and such property in business-class housing complexes is highly valued by the buyers. Another feature of our perfect apartments in Golden City is panoramic windows that fill the rooms with natural light and allow you to zone the space, creating dedicated spaces for relaxation, work, play, and more.


  • zooming
    1 / 4
    Class “BUSINESS”, a studio, S=36.25 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    2 / 4
    Class “BUSINESS”, 2E, S=49.97 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    3 / 4
    Class “BUSINESS”, 3E, S=78.13 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    4 / 4
    Class “BUSINESS”, 4E, S=121.34 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len



Each layout has its own identification card, understandable for both the developer and the buyer. This card displays the number of rooms, the type of suitable household, the useful floor space, and the total area of the apartment. Also, the company developed evaluation coefficients that show just how effectively the apartment floor space is used.

Coefficient K1 shows the ratio of the sum total of the areas of residential rooms, the kitchen, and the living room, to the overall area of the apartment. It accurately indicates errors in the design methodology with a significant increase in the area of corridors and other auxiliary rooms. The optimum coefficient is 0.6-0.75

Coefficient K2 is the ratio between the overall area of the apartment to the overall area of the outside façade wall, which reflects the natural insolation of the apartment. The optimum coefficient is 2.1-2.35

author photo

Sergey Oreshkin, A-Len

Today, the architects of our company start their work not from a sketch or a master plan, but from taking the program, previously getting from the client a package of different tasks, one of them being the range of apartments.

This program helped us to significantly streamline the architect-developer relationship: the client, as a rule, at once accepts the layouts that we propose, which gives us an opportunity to safely work on the facades. The painfully inefficient procedure that consists of getting endless approvals from the sales department that knows very little about ergonomics, has now become pleasantly routine. When an architect works under pressure, he is very likely to deliver poor results. Today, we and developer are on the same page – they know what we are doing and they profit from getting no problem apartments. This ideology helps us sell.


  • zooming
    1 / 4
    Class “COMFORT”, a studio, S=21.41 square meters, S=29,82 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    2 / 4
    Class “COMFORT”, 2E, S=53.72 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    3 / 4
    Class “COMFORT”, 3K, S=93.63 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len
  • zooming
    4 / 4
    Class “COMFORT”, 4E, S=89.37 square meters
    Copyright: © “Perfect Apartments” A-Len


Integration and development

The A-Len Architectural Laboratory also has other branches: Brickwork (dedicated to restoring the old techniques of laying bricks), the color laboratory, architectural marketing, and animated graphics. So far, the “Perfect Apartments” are only compatible with the Architectural Tool Kit software, because the typology of the apartments can be significantly widened by using various façade systems, and because each solution – be that a window reaching to the floor or a French balcony – entails the necessity of solving engineering and constructive tasks. In 2018, the program was patented, but it is constantly improved, and, possibly, will be automated in the future.

11 December 2020

Alyona Kuznetsova

Written by:

Alyona Kuznetsova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
comments powered by HyperComments
Headlines now
​The Yard Aesthetics
Organizing the yard of a premium-class housing complex, GAFA architects took care not just about the image that matches the project’s high status, but also about simple human joys, masterfully overcoming the construction regulations.
​MasterMind: a Neural Network for Developers and Architects
Created by Genpro, this software allows you to generate within half an hour dozens of development and construction options in accordance with the set parameters. At the same time, however, being more focused on the technical aspects, the program does not exclude creative work, and can be used by architects for preparing projects with a subsequent data export to AutoCAD, Revit, and ArchiCAD.
This Beetle Has Flown
The story of designing a business center in the Zhukov (“Beetle”) Drive: a number of attempts to preserve a hundred-year-old cold storage facility, at the same time introducing modern buildings interpreting the industrial theme. The project remained on paper, but the story behind it seems to be worth our attention.
​The Childhood Territory
The project of the educational complex within the second stage of “Spanish Quarters” was developed by ASADOV Architects. The project is all about creating a friendly and transparent environment that in itself educates and forms the personality of a child.
Man and the City
Designing this large-scale housing complex, GAFA architects accentuated two types of public spaces: bustling streets with shops and cafes – and a totally natural yard, visually separated as much as possible from the city. Making the most out of the contrast, both work together to make the life of the residents of EVER housing complex eventful and diverse.
​Andy Snow: “I aim for an architecture which is rational and poetic”
The British architect Andy Snow has recently become the chief architect at GENPRO Architects & Engineers. Projects, which Andy Snow did in the UK in collaboration with world-famous architectural firms, scored numerous international awards. In Russia, the architect took part in designing Moscow’s Stanislavsky Factory business center, iLove housing complex, and AFI2B business center on the 2nd Brestskaya Street. In our interview, Andy Snow compared the construction realities in Russia and the UK, and also shared his vision of architectural prospects in Russia.
​The Living Growth
The grand-scale housing complex AFI PARK Vorontsovsky in Moscow’s southwest consists of four towers, a “slab” house, and a kindergarten building. Interestingly, the plastique of the residential buildings is quite active – they seem to be growing before your eyes, responding to the natural context, and first of all opening the views of the nearby park. As for the kindergarten building, it is cute and lyrical, like a little sugar house.
Sergey Skuratov: “A skyscraper is a balance of technology, economic performance, and aesthetic...
In March, two buildings of the Capital Towers complex were built up to a 300-meter elevation mark. In this issue, we are speaking to the creator of Moscow’s cutting-edge skyscrapers: about heights and proportions, technologies and economics, laconicism and beauty of superslim houses, and about the boldest architectural proposal of recent years – the Le Corbusier Tower above the Tsentrosoyuz building.
​The Red Building
The area of Novoslobodskaya has received Maison Rouge – an apartment complex designed by ADM, which continues the wave of renovation, started by the Atmosphere business center, from the side of the Palikha Street.
​The Uplifting Effect
The project of Ostankino Business Park was developed for the land site lying between two metro stations (one operating and the other in construction), and because of that its public space is designed to equally cater for the city people and the office workers. The complex stands every chance of becoming the catalyst for development of the Butyrsky area.
​Binary Opposition
In this article, we are examining a rather rare and interesting case – two projects by Evgeny Gerasimov situated on one street and completed with a five years’ difference, presenting the perfect example of example for analyzing the overall trends and approaches practiced by the architectural company.
Raising the Yard
The housing complex Renome consists of two buildings: a modern stone house and a red-brick factory building of the end of the XIX century, reconstructed by measurements and original drafts. The two buildings are connected by an “inclined” yard – a rare, by Moscow standards, version of geoplastics that smoothly ascends to the roof of the stores lined up along a pedestrian street.
​Hearing the Tune of the Past
The Church of the Beheading of John the Baptist in the park near the Novodevichy Convent was conceived in 2012 in honor of the 200th anniversary of the victory over Napoleon. However, instead of declamatory grandeur and “fanfare”, the architect Ilia Utkin presented a concentrated and prayerful mood, combined with a respectful attitude of this tent-shaped church, which also includes some elements of architecture of orders. The basement floor hosts a museum of excavations found on the site of the church.
​Semantic Shift
The high-end residential complex STORY, situated near the Avtozavodskaya metro station and the former ZIL factory, is delicately inscribed in the contrastive context, while its shape, which combines a regular grid and a stunning “shift” of the main facade, seems to respond to the dramatic history of the place, at the same time, however, allowing for multiple interpretations.
​Yards and Towers: the Samara Experiment
The project of “Samara Arena Park”, proposed by Sergey Skuratov, scored second place in the competition. The project is essentially based on experimenting with typology of residential buildings and gallery/corridor-type city blocks combined with towers – as well as on sensitive response to the context and the urge to turn the complex into a full-fledged urban space providing a wide range of functions and experiences.
​The Fili Duo
The second phase of the Filicity housing complex, designed by ADM architects, is based on the contrast between a 57-story skyscraper 200 meters high and an 11-story brick house. The high-rise building sets a futuristic vector in Moscow housing architecture.
​The Wall and the Tower
The OSA architects have been searching for solutions that could be opposed to the low-rise construction in the center of Khabarovsk, as well as an opportunity to say a new word in the discourse about mass housing.
​The Energy Family
The housing complex Symphony 34 will be built in Moscow’s Savelovsky district; it will consist of four towers from 36 to 54 stories high. Each of the towers has an image of its own, but they all are gathered into a single architectural ensemble – a fragment of a new high-rise urban space lying outside the Third Transport Ring.
The Fifth Element
The high-end residential development in the Vsevolozhsky Lane features a combination of expensive stone and metal textures, immersing them into a feast of ornaments. The house looks like a fantasy inspired by the theater of the Art Nouveau and Symbolism era; a kind of oriental fairy tale, which paradoxically allows it to avoid direct stylization and become a reflection of one of the aspects of modern Moscow life.
​Springboards and Patios
The central element of the manor house in the village of Antonovka, designed by Roman Leonidov, is the inner yard with pergolas, meant to remind its owner about his vacations in exotic countries. The exposed wooden structures emphasize the soaring diagonals of single-pitched roofs.
​Adding Up a Growing City
The housing quarter “1147” is located at the border between the old “Stalin” district in the north and the actively developing territories in the south. Its image responds to a difficult task: the compound brick facades of the neighboring sections are different, their height varying from 9 to 22 floors, and, if we are look from the street, it seems as though the front of the city development, consisting from long narrow elements, is forming some sophisticated array at this very moment in front of our eyes.
Agility of the Modular
In the Discovery housing complex that they designed, ADM architects proposed a modern version of structuralism: the form is based on modular cells, which, smoothly protruding and deepening, make the volumes display a kind of restrained flexibility, differentiated element by element. The lamellar and ledged facades are “stitched” with golden threads – they unite the volumes, emphasizing the textured character of the architectural solution.
Polyphony of a Strict Style
The “ID Moskovskiy” housing project on St. Petersburg’s Moscow Avenue was designed by the team of Stepan Liphart in the past 2020. The ensemble of two buildings, joined by a colonnade, is executed in a generalized neoclassical style with elements of Art Deco.
​In Three Voices
The high-rise – 41 stories high – housing complex HIDE is being built on the bank of the Setun River, near the Poklonnaya Mountain. It consists of three towers of equal height, yet interpreted in three different ways. One of the towers, the most conspicuous one looks as if it was twisted in a spiral, composed of a multitude of golden bay windows.
​In the Space of Pobedy Park
In the project of a housing complex designed by Sergey Skuratov, which is now being built near the park of the Poklonnaya Hill, a multifunctional stylobate is turned into a compound city space with intriguing “access” slopes that also take on the role of mini-plazas. The architecture of the residential buildings responds to the proximity of the Pobedy Park, on the one hand, “dissolving in the air”, and, on the other hand, supporting the memorial complex rhythmically and color-wise.
​Dynamics of the Avenue
On Leningrad Avenue, not far away from the Sokol metro station, the construction of the A-Class business center Alcon II has been completed. ADM architects designed the main façade as three volumetric ribbons, as if the busy traffic of the avenue “shook” the matter sending large waves through it.
​Steamer at the Pier
An apartment hotel that looks like a ship with wide decks has been designed for a land plot on a lake shore in Moscow’s South Tushino. This “steamer” house, overlooking the lake and the river port, does indeed look as if it were ready to sail away.