По-русски

The Path to New Ornamentation

The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat” situated next to a pine park at the start of the Rublev Highway presents a new stage of development of Moscow’s decorative historicist architecture: expensively decorated, yet largely based on light-colored tones, and masterfully using the romantic veneer of majolica inserts.

Julia Tarabarina

Written by:
Julia Tarabarina
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

21 October 2020
Object
mainImg
The high-end house “Aristocrat”, designed by Ilia Mashkov and Alexandra Kuzmina of AB “Mezonproekt”, was completed three years ago, in 2017. The complex has a rather advantageous location: almost at the junction of the elite Mozhaisk and Aminyevskoe highways. As we go north, the latter is continued by the Rublev Highway, so one can say that the complex stands at the beginning of the Rublev Highway, close to the busy Moscow thoroughfares. At the same time, it is fenced off from the Aminyevskoe Highway by “Kozlovsky Les” (“Goat’s Forest”), a part of the pine forest, where one can still see old wooden houses struggling along and a section of the unpaved Tyulpannaya Ulitsa – yes, Moscow is a really diverse city, and the urban environment here is slightly resonant with the Nikolina Mount (first of all, it’s the pines). However, this is where the similarities end: the 12-15 brick towers, first in the format of the late-Soviet, and then post-Soviet “elite” construction began to appear here as early as in the late 1980’s, also making the most out of the proximity to the pine trees, which are commonly known to purify the air. The “Aristocrat” complex is the newest one here; it is only 7-9 floors high, yet it puts a new spin on the old narrative, which is also confirmed by its name.

The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt


The house stands at the edge of the forest, which muffles the highway noise almost completely; it's really quiet and peaceful here by the standards of a modern city. The architecture of the complex exactly matches the marketing task: as is known, the format of the Moscow premium-class house first of all presupposes the decorative style that combines the image of a palace with a reasonable degree of adornment. Today, this style is popularly defined as “Art Deco”, which is not entirely correct because the overall “rich and respectable” image also includes Art Nouveau and eclecticism, the Art Deco being the image that is closest in time. Alexandra Kuzmina and Ilia Mashkov have been working in this field for quite a while, and rather successfully, too – specifically, the direct predecessor of “Aristocrat” is the “House of the Academy of Sciences” built in 2009 on the Sergeya Kapitsy Street, right across from the entrance to the Yuri Platonov Academy, also situated in a quiet setting, not far away from the Moskva River. A brick background, stucco details, cantilevered structures, flutes, and sculptures. A podium, an attic, a cornice, and pilasters. Decorative inserts and wrought-iron balconies. Generally speaking, this set forms the minimum minimorum of a respectable-looking house. Its obvious merit is the comfortable scale combined with a rich texture. The main risk connected with working in this genre, so welcomed by the clients and marketers alike is the interpretation of historical prototypes. And, this risk is like a double-edged sword: it’s a bad thing if you do this true to the original, and it’s a bad thing if you do this too general, larger, and simpler. The professional community, well aware of the “minimalism” notion, accepts the decorative approach rather reluctantly, but society at large, tired of staying on the minimalist diet, is asking for more. Seemingly, after the 30 years of “textured city” the hunger must be satisfied, but decorated buildings are still popular. This is a challenge, and works by Mezonproject are providing their response to it. This answer is specific and proportionate enough, reserved in its way, teetering on the verge of generalized Neo-Greek, yet with a Palladian symmetric U-shaped plan, Art Nouveau that performs on the verge of theatrical orientalist “Egyptian” indulgences, and the modern ornamental architecture, whose techniques are gradually winning over the “realistic” architecture of orders and decorative sculpture, i.e. the recognizable elements of tenements of the historicism period.

  • zooming
    1 / 4
    The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
    Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt
  • zooming
    2 / 4
    The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
    Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt
  • zooming
    3 / 4
    The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
  • zooming
    4 / 4
    The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”


If we are to compare “Aristocrat” (built in 2017) to the Academy House (built in 2009) – there are eight years lying between them, but they still echo one another proportion-wise, like blood brothers, the difference being that the contrastive brown-and-beige tone became lighter, the brick acquired an almost flesh tint, and the decorative elements received a greater degree of generalization. The energetic lotus-shaped ornaments and the “gargoyle” cantilevered structures gave way to light greenish grids and majolica inserts, whose relationship with the Abramtsev and Talashkin ceramics, so much loved by many people, is perfectly obvious.

The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt


Generally speaking, tile and majolica are the well-known soft spots of any anti-modernist, an urban creator looking to see something pleasing to the eye. Some of such joys are the tile of the second half of the XVII century in Yaroslavl, the Pertsova House on the Prechistenskaya Embankment, the Church of Holy Spirit in already-mentioned Talashkino; but not just them – virtually any glazed insert you may lay your eyes on the city facades. We cling to these colorful reliefs, and, probably, it would not be an exaggeration to say that this feast of color is something, among other things, that we love the Art Nouveau architecture for. The “Aristocrat” house responds to the subject: the windows in wide frames alternate with “tiles” with floral ornaments, birds and gryphons, and the attics above the projections are adorned by large majolica inserts. The patterns are large and bright, which is only fair, because they function as colorful spots and are meant to be seen from a distance. At the same time, low degree of elaboration is characteristic for later artists, which, one way or another, makes this solution look more contemporary. 

Generalizing the decorative details is also quite characteristic. An important part is played by the grilles: non-transparent metallic ones and transparent white ventilation grilles on the park facade, and balcony grilles all over the place. The pilasters here are in fact slender vertical molds. The attic receives ribs – conditional flutes, but without grooves, rather a striped relief. There are few cantilevered structures, no sculptures, large curbs prevail. In general, the decor has become not only lighter in terms of color, but more concise and lighter in terms of visual weight.

The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt


As was already mentioned earlier, the house has a U-shaped floor plan; it is embellished by projections on side ends, and by groups of recessed balconies in the main part. The basement floor, unlike the main light-colored volume, is coated with dark granite, made more sophisticated by horizontal rock-face plaques, and is made still heavier by a massive portico, stretched far forward between the wings of the house towards the Veresaeva Street, even slightly further than was required in order to provide a comfortable exit in a velvet dress from the limousine.

The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt


The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt


“In the project, the basement floor had even richer decoration – Ilia Mashkov shares – It was planned that in the lower part the house was to look expensive, to the point of excessive, solemn, and festive, becoming more reserved as we went up. The crowning cornice of the first floor is not made to project; the first floor turned out to be ascetic, and it is dissonant with the top one.”

The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt


The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt


The apartments in this house are rather spacious, which corresponds to its class; on the corners, there are living rooms, 40 square meters, with three windows. Along the contour of the basement floor, as well as on the roof of the central part, whose height is slightly lower than that of the wings, terraces appear with a small garden and a green roof at the top. In the lobby at the entrance, the residents are welcomed by a double grand staircase. 

  • zooming
    1 / 6
    The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
    Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt
  • zooming
    2 / 6
    The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
    Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt
  • zooming
    3 / 6
    The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
  • zooming
    4 / 6
    The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
    Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt
  • zooming
    5 / 6
    The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
    Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt
  • zooming
    6 / 6
    The high-end residential complex “Aristocrat”
    Copyright: Photograph © Mezonproekt


Anyway, the facades of this high-end house, generally sticking to generalized historicism, are revisited in the spirit of modern decorative. Its tone is light, which is meant to, among other things, to lighten up the volume. The very seven and nine-story height makes the house a comfortable example of city construction against the 12-15 story environment, while the delicate ornaments and confident tread of symmetrical “U-plan” turns it into a kind of palace in front of a pine park at the very beginning of the Rublev Highway. The class of the housing speaks for itself: in Moscow, it is asking for a decorated solution. However, in this case we are seeing the approach to decoration taken to a whole new level: the elements of the historical facade become virtually the signs of themselves, laconic and light enough not to look excessive. The focus of attention is shifted to other motives: the ornamental band, textured brick, and inserts of color ceramics, attractive like pictures on the walls.

21 October 2020

Julia Tarabarina

Written by:

Julia Tarabarina
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.