Julia Tarabarina

Interviewed by:
Julia Tarabarina
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov


​Consistency of the Method

Marking its 35th anniversary, Reserve Union (officially named OOO TPO Reserve in Russia) used the venue of the Arch Moscow convention to showcase its hitherto unannounced projects. We asked Vladimir Plotkin a few questions, and we are showing a few pictures – without any captions yet.

07 June 2022
Интервью Выставка
“They will always remain on paper or in the digits. We forgot about them” – the press release says. 

The booth showcases a few dozen unimplemented projects, which had not been published up until this point, so it must broaden our idea of the works by Reserve Union, many of which – particularly the ones that got implemented  –  are quite well-known, not to say have become modern classics. Now, however, the visitors of Arch Moscow were shown things that hitherto have only been known to the small inner circle.

2018. One of the projects prepared for the “Unknown” exhibition marking the company′s 35th anniversary. Arch Moscow, 2022
Copyright: © Reserve Union

Thus, the exhibition appears to be not just an addition to the history of the company but to the post-Soviet architecture as a whole because Reserve Union is this country’s oldest privately owned architectural company, created back in 1987, much earlier than all the others. We asked a few questions to the company’s all-time architect Vladimir Plotkin, and asked him to show a few pictures that would be showcased at the Arch Moscow convention. All the projects are shown nameless, we just provide the year of origin.


Is Reserve Union really Russia’s oldest privately owned architectural company? Where is the starting point for “oldest”? And, by the way, where does your name come from?

Vladimir Plotkin: 
In 1987, the architectural cooperative “Reserve” was created under the roof of GlavAPU (Сhief Architectural-and-Planning Administration), which at that time performed the functions of Moskomarkhitektura, Moscow’s main architectural agency. Well, not exactly under the roof of GlavAPU – we were an independent organization from the very beginning. And the name meant that we, the young architects, were sort of like a reserve to the older generation. Somehow, the name stuck, and changing it was too much of a hassle. Everyone got used to it, me included.

And where does the TPO acronym come from? (TPO literally translates as “Creative/Production Union – translator’s note)

In the late 1980’s / early 1990’s we had to re-register our company, this time under the auspices of the Architects Union, and, in order to obtain the right licenses, or just to go through some bureaucratic procedures quicker – I don’t remember the subtleties, I was busy with other things – they included the “creative / production union” into the company’s name, even though we did not “produce” anything – production is when you produce bricks, for example. This was a purely formal bureaucratic move. Possibly, we could have done without it. But it also stuck, and when we were re-registering again in the mid-1990’s, we kept this prefix, and it turned out to be OOO TPO Reserve. 

And then the name slipped into common use, and other TPO’s began to appear. How many projects are there in your exposition? Are they really all totally unknown?

Well, almost all of them because I was mistaken about a few ones, and it turned out that they did pop up at one point or another. But on the whole, yes, there are. Our working principle was to show what we had forgotten. When in March I suddenly discovered that it was time to make an anniversary exposition, I went through our entire archive within a few days, and it’s a huge number of projects. I selected a few dozen. For some early projects, I could not find decent materials – digital graphics were nonexistent back then, there were no drafts, and I could only find poor-quality photographs. I even wanted to restore these projects and draw them over again, but then I decided that this would not be quite honest. There was a rather curious proposal on restoring the Sovremennik theater- maybe I was wrong to opt out of restoring it.

The very first project, Contract #1 of the Reserve cooperative was the reconstruction of two floors and the basement of the house on the Vorovskogo Street (now Povarskaya), for the Anatoly Vasilyev drama school – still before it received its own theater on the Sretenka. I was the one who did this project but I did not keep it on track, and there was no architecture in it as such – we remade a few apartments into a little stage and dressing rooms. We do not showcase it.

As far as the later period is concerned, we have quite a lot of forgotten projects, especially from the 2010-2012, when we participated in a crazy number of competitions. Here I had to do a selection, but trying to achieve a one-year-one-project ratio would also make little sense because we really did a lot, but published 3 or 4 competitions. We selected what was the most interesting and the most characteristic of us.

1998. One of the projects prepared for the “Unknown” exhibition marking the company′s 35th anniversary. Arch Moscow, 2022
Copyright: © Reserve Union

2014. One of the projects prepared for the “Unknown” exhibition marking the company′s 35th anniversary. Arch Moscow, 2022
Copyright: © Reserve Union

At first, we wanted to distribute our projects evenly by the year, but until 1995 we did not do any serious work; I did 3 or 4 projects, but as an extracurricular activity. Here I added a few projects that I did in Mosproject, specifically, the project of reconstructing the plaza of the Kievsky Railway Station. This was my only “cheat”, and I did it in order to show the evolution path. Even though there was no evolution worth speaking about.  

Now I am clear on how you explore the theme of Arch Moscow – by the consistency of your creative principles.

Interesting wording! I should have included that in my annotation… I have repeatedly said that I try to avoid trendy topics. Of course, there was some kind of evolution, and we adjusted our course depending upon some trends and preferences, but we tried as much as we could not to become totally dependent upon them.

  • zooming
    2005. One of the projects prepared for the “Unknown” exhibition marking the company′s 35th anniversary. Arch Moscow, 2022
    Copyright: © Reserve Union
  • zooming
    2018. One of the projects prepared for the “Unknown” exhibition marking the company′s 35th anniversary. Arch Moscow, 2022
    Copyright: © Reserve Union


The company’s booth was a group of “steles” three meters tall, with identical proportions of their bases – the Archi.ru editorial team at once recalled a certain group of towers currently built in Moscow. If we are to speak about evolution, then we may probably think that the entire exhibition will tell us about the process, while the booth presents the result that we have achieved by this time.

The booth plan
Copyright: © Reserve Union

The Arch Moscow show took place in Moscow June 8-11. The PDF file with its program is available here.

07 June 2022

Julia Tarabarina

Interviewed by:

Julia Tarabarina
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
​A Circular Arrangement
The project by UNK interiors, which won in the competition for the “Zagorye” metro station, is resonant to the ideas of the surrounding industrial and housing construction thanks to its modular laconic shapes. At the same time, the station is “all metal”, which is a nod towards the name of the nearby Lipetskaya Street because Lipetsk is a metallurgical center. One could expect that the authors would fall for the brutal images of metallurgy and blast furnaces but the project turned out to be light and laconic – we are examining why.
A Complex Dimension of a Dream
The TOTEMENT/PAPER project by Levon Airapetov and Valeria Preobrazhenskaya became, as was announced in the beginning of August, the winner of the competition for designing “Ostrov Mechty” (“Dream Island”) metro station. Contrastive graphics, united by a common method of geometric composition, “grows into the volume”, gets embellished with color, and ultimately results in a compound solution that seemed to us nothing short of exceptional. Below, we examine the construction method and keep our fingers crossed for the project to be implemented the way it should be – it would be exciting to see it become a reality.
The Beams of Energy Effectiveness
On August 22, Berlin saw an official opening of the new HQ of the energy company Vattenfall, the office complex named EDGE. One of its buildings is Germany’s biggest wood hybrid building. The term means that its supporting frame is made of glued timber, but in certain places wood cooperates with metal, reinforced concrete and fiberglass. Below, we are sharing about the inner design of this structure, not just environmentally friendly but energy efficient as well.
Inside Out: Pavilions of Eternity
The reconstruction of the warehouses of the Spit of Nizhny Novgorod – they opened in the beginning of June as concert and exhibition halls – became, without exaggeration, the event of the year, both in the field of culture and architecture. Their story seems to us to be extremely attention-worthy from the point of view of discovering, researching, and protecting this monument to engineering thought of the 19th century. At the same time, the solution proposed by Sergey Tchoban on how to adjust and how to expose these structures is as relevant as it is bold and unconventional – on the edge of temporary, timeless, and eternal.
A High-Rise Erector Set
In this article, we are examining one of the projects submitted for a closed-door competition for a housing complex to be built in the north of Moscow. The KPLN architects proposed a simple volumetric pair of 100 meter high towers, united by a common sculptural design based on laconic contrast, yet dramatic at the same time. Another interesting thing is an oval yard that is “carved out” in the stylobate roof.
The Leisure Culture
In the new extra building of the Klyazma resort center, whose project was developed by KPLN, the aesthetics of Soviet modernist architecture is combined with modern ideas of how leisure activities should be organized.
The White Grove
This project by “Ginzburg Architects” scored first place in the international competition for a draft project of a Cathedral Mosque in Kazan, dedicated to the 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam in Volga Bulgaria. The concept of a “white garden”, which the architects presented in modern shapes, interprets the rules and notions of Islam and refers to historical figures. Below, we are examining the project in detail.
Triangle Function
The eccentric shape of this thin slab that expands upwards is not a formal gesture but the UNK architects’ response to the site’s requirements and the technical and economic performance specifications. The solutions are modernist, cost-effective, and functional. The building is terraced, the side ends are accentuated with a “slab” shift, and the wide facades are composed of triangular bay windows.
The Shelter of a Digital Wanderer
The apartment hotel that GAFA designed for the central district of Moscow offers its guests living the habitual routine through a new spatial experience, and claims the status of a new landmark as well.
The Takeoff of a Multifunctional Approach
ASADOV architects presented a concept of developing the old airport in Rostov-on-Don. A four kilometer long boulevard stretching in the stead of the former runway and the block housing, multiplied by a wide range of business and public functions, possibly including the governmental one, will allow this area to claim the role of a new attraction point with a high level of self-sufficiency.
A Ringlet Bridge
The project of a pedestrian bridge, proposed by the architectural company ATRIUM, headed by Vera Butko and Anton Nadtochiy, for the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, became the winner of the A+A Awards organized by the Architizer portal in the “Unbuilt Transportation” nomination. The bridge is indeed a stunner: a “hanging garden” in concrete tubs of columns, suspended over a city highway, is fitted with ringlets of wooden ramps, which in the bridge’s key point form an element of national ornament.
​Consistency of the Method
Marking its 35th anniversary, Reserve Union (officially named OOO TPO Reserve in Russia) used the venue of the Arch Moscow convention to showcase its hitherto unannounced projects. We asked Vladimir Plotkin a few questions, and we are showing a few pictures – without any captions yet.
Vladimir Plotkin: “Our profession is complex, vulnerable, and sometimes defenseless against...
As part of the editorial project devoted to the high-rise and high-density construction that Moscow is seeing in recent years, we spoke to the leading architect of CU Reserve Vladimir Plotkin, the author of many grand-scale – and high-profile – buildings of this city. We spoke about an architect’s role and his tasks in the mega-construction process, about the drive of the megalopolis, about the strong sides of mixed and multifunctional construction, and about the methods of organizing big forms.
Upping the Stakes
The concept of a housing complex in Samara from T+T Architects: a new landmark in the cityscape, view of the Zhiguli Mountains, and VR technologies.
The Book Sanctuary
Reconstructed and renovated by Studio 44, the building of Vladimir Mayakovsky Public Library received modern technical content, at the same time becoming closer to its authentic image from the times when it was part of the compound of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.
In Tune with Mendelsohn
The “Kersten House” standing next to the “Krasnoye Znamya” (“Red Banner”) factory fits in with the tactful course adopted by Anatoly Stolyarchuk studio: it allows of no historical stylization, yet at the same time is quite respectful of the surrounding context.
​Foothills and Peaks
Developed by OSA, the concept of revitalization of the territory of Stankoagregat plant combines two scales: extreme-high towers and relatively “human-friendly” urban villas. In the conditions of ultra-dense construction, this solution makes it possible to vacate territories for public spaces and trees, as well as adapt the project for the conditions of the changing market.
City in the Stream
The books by Genplan Institute of Moscow, published for the Institute’s 70th anniversary and for the coinciding exhibition, are the most amazing three-volume edition that I ever saw: the books are totally different, yet packed in one box. This, on the other hand, is justified by the specifics of each of the volumes, the diversity of approaches to processing information used in them, and the complexity of the material as such: town planning is a multifaceted science, bordering on art.
Stop the [special operetion]!
The collective letter Russian architects was published here the 26.02.2022. Now, 04.03.2022, it's text is edited according the new law of the Russian Federation. All the signatures, more than 6800, are deleted, as well as weblinks. But we coserved the edited text for the history.
​Shape of the Winery
In this article, we are telling you more about the development of the shape and the implementation of the “Skalisty Bereg” (“Rocky Shore”) winery, designed by Alexander Balabin and his company “Severin-Project” in the Krasnodar Territory, and one of the finalists of WAF 2021.
​An Architectural Reality Show
Roman Leonidov, the well-known architect of luxury countryside residences, about which Archi.ru repeatedly wrote, launched a new online project called “Build YOUR House” on his YouTube channel.
​Buyan and the Court Quarter
The news about cancellation of the Tuchkov Buyan park has been stirring the minds of people of St. Petersburg for a week already. In the absence of any verified specific information, we discussed the situation with the architects of the park and the Court Quarter: Nikita Yavein and Evgeny Gerasimov.