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.

author pht

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

author pht

Written by:

Julia Tarabarina
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
​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.
The Magic of Rhythm or Ornament as a Theme
Designed by Sergey Tchoban, the housing complex Veren Place in St. Petersburg is the perfect example of inserting a new building into a historical city, and one the cases of implementing the strategy that the architect presented a few years ago in the book, which he coauthored with Vladimir Sedov, called “30:70. Architecture as a Balance of Forces”.
​Walking on Water
In the nearest future, the Marc Chagall Embankment will be turned into Moscow’s largest riverside park with green promenades, cycling and jogging trails, a spa center on water, a water garden, and sculptural pavilions designed in the spirit of the Russian avant-garde artists of the 1920, and, first of all, Chagall himself. In this issue, we are covering the second-stage project.
​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.
​“Architectural Archaeology of the Narkomfin Building”: the Recap
One of the most important events of 2020 has been the completion of the long-awaited restoration of the monument of Soviet avant-garde architecture – the Narkomfin Building, the progenitor of the typology of social housing in this country. The house retained its residential function as the main one, alongside with a number of artifacts and restoration clearances turned into living museum exhibits.
​LIFE on the Setun River
The area in the valley of the Setun River near the Vereiskaya Street got two new blocks of the “LIFE-Kutuzovsky” housing complex, designed by ADM architects. The two new blocks have a retail boulevard of their own, and a small riverside park.
​Celestial Tectonics
Three towers on a podium over the Ramenka River are the new dominant elements on the edge of a Soviet “microdistrict”. Their scale is quite modern: the height is 176 m – almost a skyscraper; the facades are made of glass and steel. Their graceful proportions are emphasized by a strict white grid, and the volumetric composition picks up the diagonal “grid of coordinates” that was once outlined in the southwest of Moscow by the architects of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Clouds over the Railroad
In the stead of former warehouses near “Lyubertsy-1” station, a new housing complex has been built, which peacefully coexists with the railroad, with the flyover bridge, and with the diverse surrounding scenery, not only dominating over the latter, but improving it.
​Towers in a Forest
The authors of the housing complex “In the Heart of Pushkino” were faced with a difficult task: to preserve the already existing urban forest, at the same time building on it a compound of rather high density. This is how three towers at the edge of the forest appeared with highly developed public spaces in their podiums and graceful “tucks” in the crowning part of the 18-story volumes.
​The Towers of “Sputnik”
Six towers, which make up a large housing complex standing on the bank of the Moskva River at the very start of the Novorizhskoe Highway, provide the answers to a whole number of marketing requirements and meets a whole number of restrictions, offering a simple rhythm and a laconic formula for the houses that the developer preferred to see as “flashy”.
​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.
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.
​Renovation: the Far East Style
The competition project of renovating two central city blocks of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, developed by UNK project, won the nomination “Architectural and planning solutions of city construction”.
​The Contact
The Istituto Centrale per la Grafica in Rome presents Sergei Tchoban’s exhibition “Imprint of the future. Destiny of Piranesi’s City”. The exhibition includes four etchings, based on Roman architectural views of the XVIII century complemented by futuristic insertions, as well as a lot of drawings that investigate the same topic, at times quite expressively. The exhibition poses questions, but does not seem to give any answers. Since going to Rome is pretty problematic now, let’s at least examine the pictures.
​In Search of Visual Clarity
In this article, we are reviewing a discussion devoted to the question of designing city space elements, which is quite complicated for the Russian expanses of land. The discussion was organized by the Genplan Institute of Moscow at the ArchMoscow convention in Gostiny Dvor.
​The City of the Sun
Jointly designed by Sergey Tchoban and Vladimir Plotkin, the VTB Arena Park complex can arguably be considered the perfect experiment on solving the centuries-old controversy between traditional architecture and modernism. The framework of the design code, combined with the creative character of the plastique-based dialogue between the buildings, formed an all-but-perfect fragment of the city fabric.
​...The Other Was Just Railroad Gin*
In their project of the third stage of “Ligovsky City” housing complex, located in the industrial “gray” belt of Saint Petersburg, the KCAP & Orange Architects & A-Len consortium set before themselves a task of keeping up the genius loci by preserving the contours of the railroad and likening the volumes of residential buildings to railroad containers, stacked up at the goods unloading station.
​Lions on Glass
While reconstructing the facades of Building 4 of Moscow Hospital #23, SPEECH architects applied a technique, already known from Saint Petersburg projects by Sergey Tchoban – cassettes with elements of classical architecture printed on glass. The project was developed gratis, as a help to the hospital.
Park of Sentiments
The project of “Romantic Park Tuchkov Buyan”, which was developed by the consortium of Studio 44 and WEST 8, and has won an international competition, combines sculptural landscape design and wooden structures, variety of spatial features and an eventful agenda, designed for diverse audience, with a beautiful and complex passeist idea of a palace park, meant to evoke thoughts and feelings.
​Architecture as an Educational Tool
The concept of a charity school “Tochka Budushchego” (“Point of the Future”) in Irkutsk is based on cutting-edge educational programs, and is designed, among other things, for adapting orphaned children for independent life. An important role is played by the architecture of the building: its structure and different types of interconnected spaces.
​The Gallery Approach
In this article, we are covering the concept of a Central District Clinic for 240 patients, designed by Ginzburg Architects, which won at a competition organized by the Architects Union and the Healthcare Ministry.
Health Constructor
In this issue, we are publishing the concept of a standard clinic designed by UNK Project, which took second place in the competition organized by the Union of Architects of Russia in collaboration with the Healthcare Ministry.
From Foundation to Teaspoon
Based on the taste of their friendly clients, the architects Olga Budennaya and Roman Leonidov designed and built a house in the Moscow metropolitan area playing Art Nouveau. At the same time, they enriched the typology of a private house with modern functions of a garage loft and a children’s art studio.
Continuation and Development
The second “office” stage of Comcity, the most popular business park of the “New Moscow” area, continues the underground street of the already existing part of the complex, responding to its architectural identity.
​The Flying One
Expected to become an analogue of Moscow’s Skolkovo, the project of the High Park campus at Saint Petersburg’s ITMO University, designed by Studio 44, mesmerizes us with its sheer scale and the passion that the architects poured into it. Its core – the academic center – is interpreted as an avant-garde composition inspired by Piazza del Campo with a bell tower; the park is reminiscent of the “rays” of the main streets of Saint Petersburg, and, if watched from a birds-eye view, the whole complex looks like a motherboard with at least four processors on it. The design of the academic building even displays a few features of a sports arena. The project has a lot of meanings and allusions about it; all of them are united by plastique energy that the hadron collider itself could be jealous of.
​The Aperture Effect
For a housing complex built in the town of Pushkino in the Moscow metropolitan area, KPLN Architects designed facades that adjust the stream of light by using the wall geometry.
​A Comfortable City in Itself
The project that we are about to cover is seemingly impossible amidst human anthills, chaotically interspersed with old semi-neglected dachas. Meanwhile, the housing complex built on the Comcity business part does offer a comfortable environment of decent city: not excessively high-rise and moderately private as a version of the perfect modern urbanist solution.
Moving on the Edge
The housing complex “Litsa” (“Faces”) on Moscow’s Khodynka Field is one of the new grand-scale buildings that complement the construction around it. This particular building skillfully tackles the scale, subjugating it to the silhouette and the pattern; it also makes the most of the combination of a challenging land site and formidable square footage requirements, packing a whole number of features within one volume, so the house becomes an analogue of a city. And, to cap it all, it looks like a family that securely protects the children playing in the yard from... well, from everything, really.
Visual Stability Agent
A comparatively small house standing on the border of the Bolshevik Factory combines two diametrically opposite features: expensive materials and decorative character of Art Deco, and a wide-spaced, even somewhat brutal, facade grid that highlights a laminated attic.
The Faraday Cage
The project of the boutique apartment complex in the 1st Truzhenikov Lane is the architects’ attempt to squeeze a considerable volume into a tiny spot of land, at the same time making it look graceful and respectable. What came to their rescue was metal, stone, and curvilinear glass.
Color and Line
The new successful techniques developed by A.Len for designing a kindergarten under budget constraints: the mosaic of irregular windows and working with color.
The Union of Art and Technology
His interest for architecture of the 1930’s is pretty much the guiding star for Stepan Liphart. In his project of the “Amo” house on St. Petersburg’s Vasilyevsky Island, the architect based himself on Moscow Art Deco - aesthetically intricate and decorated in scratch-work technique. As a bonus, he developed the city block typology as an organic structure.
The Countdown
The project that Evgeniy Gerasimov and Partners developed for Moscow’s Leningrad Avenue: the tallest building in the company’s portfolio, continuing the tradition of Moscow’s Stalin architecture.
White Town
In the project that they developed for a southern region of Russia, OSA Architects use multilayered facades that create an image of seaside resort architecture, and, in the vein of the latest trends of today, mix up different social groups that the residents belong to.
​Just a Mirror for the Sun
The house that Sergey Skuratov designed in Nikolovorobinsky Alley is thought out down to the last detail. It adapts three historical facades, interprets a feeling of a complex city, is composed of many layers, and catches plenty of sunlight, from sunrises to sunsets. The architect himself believes that the main role of this house is creating a background for another nearby project of his, Art House in the Tessinsky Alley.
​Part of the Whole
On June 5, the winners of Moscow Architectural Award were announced. The winners list includes the project of a school in Troitsk for 2,100 students, with its own astronomy dome, IT testing ground, museum, and a greenhouse on the roof.
Pedagogical Architecture
Yet another project of a private school, in which Archimatika realizes the concept of aesthetic education and introduces a new tradition: combining Scandinavian and Soviet experience, turning to works of art, and implementing sustainable technologies.
​Rational Arrangement
In this article, we are examining a complex of buildings and interiors of the first stage of the project that has recently become extremely popular – the Kommunarka clinic.
​Parallel Universe
In the “Parallel House” residence that he designed in the Moscow metropolitan area, the architect Roman Leonidov created a dramatic sculptural composition from totally basic shapes – parallelepipeds, whose collision turned into an exciting show.
​Breakwater
In the Istra district of Moscow metropolitan area, the tandem of 4izmerenie and ARS-ST designed a sports complex – a monovolume that has the shape of a chamfered parallelepiped with a pointed “nose” like a ship’s bow.
​Stairway to Heaven
The project of a hotel in the settlement of Yantarny is an example of a new recreational complex typology, and a new format that unites the hotel, the business, and the cultural functions. All of this is complemented by 100% integration with nature.
​Cape of Good Hope
In this issue, we are showing all the seven projects that participated in a closed-door competition to create a concept for the headquarters of Gazprom Neft, as well as provide expert opinions on those projects.