По-русски

​The Starting Point

In this article, we are reviewing two retro projects: one is 20 years old, the other is 25. One of them is Saint Petersburg’s first-ever townhouse complex; the other became the first example of a high-end residential complex on Krestovsky Island. Both were designed and built by Evgeny Gerasimov and Partners.

Alyona Kuznetsova

Written by:
Alyona Kuznetsova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

29 October 2020
Object
mainImg
Evgeny Gerasimov and Partners is one of the oldest commercial architectural companies in this city; this year its first project – the condominium in Kupchino – is turning 25. Over the next quarter of a century, the company collected a portfolio that is just as impressive as it is diverse: it includes high-end villas in the city’s most beautiful places, grand-scale public buildings, industrial park renovation projects, and neat-looking housing projects at the edge of the city. The company does not limit itself to any particular style, chiefly relying on context and relevance than on fashion trends or a course that has been set once and for all. This approach, characteristic of a “large company”, which is ready to tackle the task of any complexity, could be traced already in its first projects, more of which we are covering below.

Condominium in Kupchino
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin


At this point, we cannot do without a quick tour of the “primordial soup” of the 1990’s. According to the website Russian Architecture: the New Age, the most significant events of the decade were: the “Freedom of Trade” decree, the opportunity for the citizens of Russia to freely go abroad, the creation of UKOS oil company, the MMM bubble, terrorism, and the default of 1998. In the daily routine, it was the “Broken Streetlights” TV series, vouchers, the Dendy game console, and Michael Jackson performing at Luzhniki Arena. In the professional environment, it was the first Zodchestvo festival and the first articles by Grigory Revzin, the two keywords being freedom and courage.

1. Red

Townhouses in Kupchino


The company started designing the condominium on Bukharestskaya Street immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1992, and finished it in 1995. From this commission from the Russo-Balt developers, the history of the company started. At that time, the young architect Evgeny Gerasimov drew inspiration from the masters of postmodernism, whose works he saw in library magazines – Vittorio Gregotti, Michael Graves, Aldo Rossi – and he would commute to the construction site by Tram 25, carrying around a gas handgun – “times were pretty tough back then”.

  • zooming
    1 / 4
    Condominium in Kupchino
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners
  • zooming
    2 / 4
    Condominium in Kupchino
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners
  • zooming
    3 / 4
    Condominium in Kupchino
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners
  • zooming
    4 / 4
    Condominium in Kupchino
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners


Parallel to the rise in the exchange rate of the US dollar, the Kupchino prefab houses saw the rise of something that was totally sci-fi by the standards of those days – not only in form but in content as well: a castle with fortress walls and a tower, which, upon closer inspection, consisted of US-style townhouses with unseen before heated garages, master’s studies, terraces.

The architectural critic Elena Gonzales wrote about this project in 2010:

author photo

Elena Gonsales

The post-perestroika era split the world of Russian housing construction into two poles: social and “elite”. The appearance of the latter in the 1990’s was brought about by the return of the private property – the millions of dollars that the “new rich” instantly made began to convert in “Euro-remodeling” projects and “condominiums”. What does this mean in architectural terms? Stylistically, this spells the revival of the “bourgeois” classicism in its Victorian version: conservative geometry-based architecture characterized by powerful red-brick walls, turrets, and robust bottom floors. As for the apartment design, it witnessed a veritable revolution that consisted in the appearance of a second bathroom, the so-called “guest” one.


Condominium in Kupchino
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin


The architects of those days had to invent this new-formation technology from scratch, not having either analogues or predecessors to rely on – apart from photos from the “Architecture and Construction” magazine. Probably, this is why the complex turned out to be so brightly unique; it leaves nobody indifferent even today – people sometimes liken it to a Baptist church, and sometimes to a prison, but it definitely arrests everyone’s gaze.

The composition of “Ivanhoe” (this was the name that the condominium got a while later) was designed as a symmetric one. The complex consists of four blocks with six townhouses in each, which are joined into two “walls” running parallel to Bukharestskaya Street and forming a closed rectangular yard. The traversal axis of the yard consists of a promenade and a cross-shaped (on the plan) centerpiece building with “regular” apartments and a “watchtower” highlight. Yet another block, which does not belong to the housing complex, but is designed in the same style, is the building of the Employment Agency of the Frunzensky district; what makes it different from the townhouses are the more habitual and friendly-looking “full-size” windows. One can get the exhaustive knowledge about the rather sophisticated construction of the complex from its model.

The master plan. Condominium in Kupchino
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners


The somewhat excessively introverted character of the condominium can be explained by the time when it was built: comfort meant first of all security and privacy. In order to give the residents extra protection from the outside world, which was barging in with the rattling of the morning tram, the architects came up with noise-proof apartment design: the townhouses only face the street with the windows of bathrooms and staircases, while the bedrooms, children’s rooms, and libraries overlook the quiet inner “garden” yard.

Condominium in Kupchino
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin


Also, from the street side, there is a garage entrance, from which one can get up to their home, while the main entrance is situated from the side of the elevated yard. In each townhouse, there are six rooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms, and a mansard floor, the total area being 140 square meters.

The apartments in the “dungeon” have 4 to 6 rooms in them. The apartments are three-sided, with two bathrooms; also, there is an underground parking garage in the building. The turret, which has a staircase inside, is the only element to violate the perfect symmetry: the “eight-on-four” is turned 45 degrees in respect to the orthogonal lines. As Evgeny Gerasimov shared later, “this was a sensual solution meant to enrich the building’s look, and having no conceptual meaning whatsoever.”

  • zooming
    1 / 4
    Condominium in Kupchino
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin
  • zooming
    2 / 4
    Condominium in Kupchino
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin
  • zooming
    3 / 4
    Condominium in Kupchino
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin
  • zooming
    4 / 4
    Condominium in Kupchino
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin


After many years of mass construction, this project became a challenge for everyone – the architects, the construction company, and even the city people. As was already said, nobody had hitherto heard about parking garages, and the metallic roof was also a novelty; the style that the architects chose was totally experimental. While the striped look of the bottom floors, covered by beautiful multicolored stone, sometimes metallically porous, the broad brick planes, and the “propylaea” of the main entrances all suggest the “fortress” narrative, the purity of the geometric forms, the columns, the cornice, and the trimming around the windows were inspired by Mario Botha. All of these elements are just as laconic as they are paradoxical: laconic cornices with an odd giant cantilevers, and empire windows above the pairs of the verticals of the staircases (originally, the architects designed columns of a “greater” order but it was only a pier that ultimately remained).

Condominium in Kupchino
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin


Condominium in Kupchino
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners


It is rather obvious that the pair of columns on either side of the entrance to the transverse promenade looks very similar to the arch of Saint Petersburg’s New Holland area, even though there is no arch top here – the romantic “castle” narrative is achieved here by very simple means. This is definitely not historicism – the building does not have any specific details – this is nothing but postmodernism, even though devoid of irony but still fresh enough to be different from the “style of the 1990’s”, which will come later on down the line.

Condominium in Kupchino
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin


2. Green

The first high-end residential complex on Krestovsky Island

The “Zeleny Ostrov” (“Green Island”) the city’s first high-end residential complex, was built on the Krestovsky Island a little bit later, in 1996-1999, the typology and the overall design being similar: the “perimeter” of townhouses and the centerpiece apartment building. However, while the “fields” of Kupchino were not burdened by the context and could withstand any postmodernist experiments, the Krestovsky Island required attention to its history.

“Green Island” housing complex
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners


The change of location is already felt in the master plan of the complex: its outlines repeat the curves of the streets, carefully stepping back, wherever it is necessary to save the trees. The flowing character of the construction reminds of the proximity of the river and the “accidental” look of natural forms – up until the 1930’s, the Krestovsky Island chiefly hosted countryside homes, and was not “tamed” by a rigid town planning grid. From above, the plan of the complex looks like a snake, the “head” of which is a building with apartments that goes into the courtyard. A tenement house built in 1909, to which the new building adjoins closely, closing the quarter, as was customary in the central part of the city, does not allow the “snake” to bite itself by the tail.

“Green Island” housing complex. Construction, 2000
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners


The whole complex is divided into five residential blocks, which differ in both facades and layout. The variety proposed by the architects consists of gabled roofs grouped in pairs on the sides of chimneys, hexagonal towers, post-constructivist windows with a column in the middle and recessed balconies with a column at the corner, as well as a “one-legged” portico, which Grigory Revzin was once surprised at back in the day.

“Green Island” housing complex
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin


On one corner, the house faces the city with a rigid trapeze of the façade, which immediately reminds one of the “fifth corner”. The real highlight here, however, is the rounded façade that is turned to the yard, looking at which one indeed may think that they are looking at a “round” house.

“Green Island” housing complex
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin


“Green Island” housing complex
Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin


Evgeny Gerasimov shares that this project was inspired by Saint Petersburg dachas of the early XX century. It indeed has a “dacha” look about it – first of all, its height of two or three floors is much lower than the habitual height of the Saint Petersburg tenements of the XIX/XX century, and, if I may say so, reminds the format of Moscow construction of 150 years ago, when Moscow was NOT the capital of Russia. The complex, of course, outgrows the country homes of the modernist periods, but not as significantly as the buildings that appeared on the Krestovsky Island later on, such as “Verona” and “Venice”, also designed by Evgeny Gerasimov, and referring to quite a different style of “palazzo” houses, working with the historical prototypes in all seriousness. On the other hand, Green Island became the first example in a series of high-end houses built on the Krestovsky Island in the following years.

The “Green Island” house, in contrast to the red-brick “Ivanhoe” residential complex, is plastered, which gives us yet another analogy – with the above-mentioned post-constructivism that manifested itself in the residential areas of the 1930’s, which have not yet lost their constructivist courage, but have already felt the joy of working with a column. To some extent, it also echoes the houses that were built after the Second World War in Soviet cities by captured Germans, sometimes according to German projects: two or three-story houses, they were usually equipped with pediments that grow out of walls without a cornice; however, similar districts were then built according to the designs of “Stalinist” architects, especially in districts located farther away from the city center.

Here, that city looks as if it was taken as an example, and “jam-packed”, due to which the gable roofs became even sharper, and the bay windows grew into turrets, which in turn leads to us perceiving the whole house as a non-classicist one – active, complex, and changing dramatically if viewed from different angles. By the way, this unpredictability, asymmetry and interest in towers were also characteristic of the Kamennostrovsky dachas, so their prototype is probably readable – except that the architects of those days lined up the dachas here, receiving their hybrid with urban development.

  • zooming
    1 / 4
    “Green Island” housing complex
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin
  • zooming
    2 / 4
    “Green Island” housing complex
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin
  • zooming
    3 / 4
    “Green Island” housing complex
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin
  • zooming
    4 / 4
    “Green Island” housing complex
    Copyright: © Evegeny Gerasimov and partners. Photograph © Andrey Belimov-Gushchin


The two houses that we are now remembering – 20-25 years after the completion of their construction – are united not only by the design time and similar techniques. First of all, they are related by a low-rise scale, the mixed “apartments+townhouses”, the presence of direct entrances to houses from the street and front gardens. Subsequently, the townhouse format developed in two directions: affordable and more expensive, but it never became widespread in this country, which is probably a pity. Of course, in the experiments of the nineties there were many things that have long since been rejected by the authors as irrelevant; yet, meanwhile, there were a lot of interesting things in them – and that, with rare exceptions, did not receive development. In particular, the low-rise scale and the interest in experimenting with mixed typology.

29 October 2020

Alyona Kuznetsova

Written by:

Alyona Kuznetsova
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
​Inside of a Drawn Grid
Designing the apartment complex PLAY in Danilovskaya Sloboda, ADM architects placed their bet on the imagery of construction. The area where it manifested itself the most vividly was the sophisticated grid of the facades.
​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.