The apartment complex in Roshchino, designed by GAFA architects, looks very much like a glamping: the residents enjoy the untouched nature of the Karelian isthmus, while having urban amenities and opportunities for social life.
Written by: Alyona Kuznetsova Translated by: Anton Mizonov
04 October 2022
The settlement of Roshchino, which until 1948 bore the Finnish name of Raivola, is not so well-known as Komarovo or Repino, and is situated further away from the gulf, but it can be accessed by a suburban train of the same direction, and is abundant in the same pine trees and glacier boulders that surround local dacha houses – some exquisite, some dilapidated, built before the 1917 Revolution, some modest-looking from the Soviet times, and some luxury and modern.
The land site, with which GAFA worked is the territory of the former “Leninets” pioneer camp, lying derelict, like many others of its kind. On both sides of it, there are hotels and villas, spending vacations and weekends in which you have to plan well in advance – the city people flock here for fresh air, peace, and long walks through the Lindulovskaya Coppice with 300-year-old ship-grade larches. On the territory of the camp, over the several years of human absence, nature has taken what righteously belonged to it: underwood has grown, moss has covered the roofs of the houses and the concrete flower beds, and the paths are all but indiscernible. Still before it was turned into a camp, the land site belonged to the dacha estate “Tanino”, founded in 1910 by State Councilor Mikhail Khrushchev.
The developer set the program as an “apartment complex”, the kind of “second housing”, to which city people can come for the weekends to recharge their batteries. Such a concept has already worked very well In Sestroretsk – in the complex named “Shiny World INSIDE”, where another developer also tried to create a resort-like environment, yet on a greater scale. However, while in Sestroretsk the architects proceeded from the gulf and the dunes, GAFA tried to preserve and explore a different resource – the pine forest.
Since the trees became the main value of the project, GAFA strived to preserve as many of them as possible. The master plan was based upon that of the pioneer camp – the new buildings appear on the blueprints of the former cottages, yet the architects are placing them in a more freehand fashion, rotating them at a small angle in respect to one another, and forming punctured lines.
Closer to the street, there is a public nucleus, open to everyone who arrives – the building of the health center and the plaza in front of it, as well as a parking garage with sports fields on its roof. The former central alleyway turns into a winding trail that branches off other trails, forming an extended pedestrian route.
The buildings of the apartment blocks appear to be scattered around the territory like boulders, between which the green sea of the pine forest is rolling its waves. The abundance of trees and the “eco-friendly” positioning of the houses creates a feeling of privacy and a feeling of living in a forest. In order to maximize this experience, the architects came up with what might be called “cantilevered recessed balconies”: one of their walls is dull and blocks the view of the neighbors or the view of the street, and the others two are completely transparent, allowing the residents to contemplate the surroundings. This is exactly the case when bird watching can be combined with enjoying a cup of coffee.
Scale-wise, the houses are close to urban villas – their height does not exceed six floors, the sixth containing apartments with terraces, which, accordingly, step back from the main plane. Thanks to the cantilevers, balconies and sunken-in fragments, the facades took on a dramatic plastique, quite appropriate for such a context, augmented by textured materials – multicolored bricks, laid horizontally and vertically, as well as wood and brass.
All the houses are grouped in pairs, which are connected by a “link” one window wide – it contains the staircase and elevator core. The entrance groups, complemented by little gardens, include spaces for storing baby strollers and bikes. The typology of apartments is augmented by a two-story villa situated approximately in the center of the site.
GAFA has a reputation for paying serious attention to the landscaping part of its projects, but in Roshchino the company strived to keep an impression of a virgin forest, only adding to the space between the houses some ferns and heather, characteristic of the environment of a moist shady forest. Recreation areas with sun beds, outdoor tables and grill houses are neatly integrated into the existing landscape. In some places, architects preferred not to disrupt the existing ecosystem at all and created a second level of landscaping: a “floating” promenade and a playground in the form of a tree house.
The landscaping project of the complex includes such an unusual typology as a tea house – an oriental place for contemplation that focuses the visitors’ attention on the beauty of the surroundings and creates a place for communication and meeting one’s neighbors. Inside, there is a stove and a wooden community table; in the yard, there is a garden for meditation with a composition of natural stones.
The privilege of living in a forest is further complemented by an opportunity to do sports, use a swimming pool, and eat out. The “satellite” of the apartments is a public nucleus with two big infrastructure projects, beyond which private life begins.
The first project is a health center, with a crescent-shaped plan. Its wide outside arc commands fine forest views, while the inner perimeter forms a cozy semi-closed plaza.
The plaza is a gateway to the public life of the complex, as well as the main entrance to the health center. The trees are interspersed with restaurant tables, as well as lounges and waiting areas. A wooden paving stone resembling a plowshare is used as paving. The plaza is illuminated by subdued light from the windows of adjacent public spaces, which will be complemented by spheres located in low bushes underneath the pine trees.
The multistory overland parking garage seemingly had to bring dissonance into the concept of the project but GAFA did find a way out. The architects “dissolve” the big volume, placing it close to the trees and covering the facade in grapevine – if the project takes place, it will probably be the first example of vertical landscaping of this scale for St. Petersburg and the region. The roof of the parking garage is used as a sports hub – it hosts a multifunctional sports park, a tennis court, and a workout area. The amphitheater with a view of the tree crowns serves as a spectator stand and a recreation area, as well as a noise barrier.
The project will be implemented; currently, the construction permit has been issued.
The Chinese Symphony
The construction of the Chinese center “Huaming Park” has been a long story that came to fruition relatively recently. The building is adjacent to a traditional Chinese garden, but it is very modern, laconic and technological, and the simple-in-form, yet spectacular, white lamellae promise to someday be incorporated as a media facade. This complex is also truly multifunctional: it contains different types of living spaces, offices, a large fitness center, conference halls and restaurants – all wrapped in one volume. You can comfortably hold international forums in it, having everything you may possibly need at your fingertips, and going outside only to take a walk. In this article, we are examining this complex in detail.
Ensemble of Individualities
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Black and Red
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The Mastery of Counterpoint
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In memory of Jean-Louis Cohen
Marina Khrustaleva – about Jean-Louis Cohen (20.07.1949-7.08.2023), French architect and architectural historian that specialized in modern architecture and city planning.
On the Hills
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The Magic Carpet
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A Copper Step
Block 5, designed by ASADOV architects as part of the “Ostrov” (“Island”) housing complex, is at the same time grand-scale, conspicuous thanks to its central location – and contextual. It does not “outshout” the solutions used in the neighboring buildings, but rather gives a very balanced implementation of the design code: combining brick and metal in light and dark shades and large copper surfaces, orthogonal geometry on the outside and flexible lines in the courtyard.
The Light for the Island
For the first time around, we are examining a lighting project designed for a housing complex; but then again, the authors of the nighttime lighting of the Ostrov housing complex, UNK lighting, proudly admit that this project is not just the largest in their portfolio, but also the largest in this country. They describe their approach as a European one, its chief principles being smoothness of transitions, comfort to the eye, and the concentration of most of the light at the “bottom” level – meaning, it “works” first of all for pedestrians.
Spots of Light
A new housing complex in Tyumen designed by Aukett Swanke is a very eye-pleasing example of mid-rise construction: using simple means of architectural expression, such as stucco, pitched roofs, and height changes, the architects achieve a “human-friendly” environment, which becomes a significant addition to the nearby park and forest.
Ledges and Swirls
The housing complex “Novaya Zarya” (“New Dawn”) designed by ASADOV Architects will become one of the examples of integrated land development in Vladivostok. The residential area will be characterized by various typologies of its housing sections, and a multitude of functions – in addition to the social infrastructure, the complex will include pedestrian promenades, shopping malls, office buildings, and recreational facilities. The complex is “inscribed” in a relief with a whopping 40-meter height difference, and overlooks the Amur Bay.
Agglomeration on an Island
Recently, an approval came for the master plan of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk agglomeration, which was developed by a consortium headed by the Genplan Institute of Moscow. The document provides for the creation of 12 clusters, the totality of which will give the region a qualitative leap in development and make the island more self-sufficient, more accessible, and less dependent on the mainland. We are inviting you to examine the details.
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Grasping and Formulating
The special project “Tezisy” (“Abstracts”), showcased at Arch Moscow exhibition in Moscow’s Gostiny Dvor, brought together eight young “rock stars of architecture”, the headliner being Vladislav Kirpichev, founder of the EDAS school. In this article, we share our impressions of the installations and the perspectives of the new generation of architects.
The White Tulip
Currently, there are two relevant projects for the Great Cathedral Mosque in Kazan, which was transferred to a land site in Admiralteiskaya Sloboda in February. One of them, designed by TsLP, was recently showcased at Arch Moscow. In this article, we are covering another project, which was proposed during the same period for the same land site. Its author is Aleksey Ginzburg, the winner of the 2022 competition, but now the project is completely different. Today, it is a sculptural “flower” dome symbolizing a white tulip.
The architectural company ATRIUM opened a gallery of its own in a metaverse. Inside, one can examine the company’s approach and main achievements, as well as get some emotional experience. The gallery is already hosting cyberspace business meetings and corporate events.
From Darkness to Light
Responding to a lengthy list of limitations and a lengthy – by the standards of a small building – list of functions, Vladimir Plotkin turned the project of the Novodevichy Monastery into a light, yet dynamic statement of modern interpretation of historical context, or, perhaps, even interpretation of light and darkness.
Modernism in Avant-Garde
The contest proposal that Studio 44 made for the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theater is bright in all senses, and in many ways even provocative – just like a modern theater performance should be. Being in context with modern culture, it even shocks you in some respects. At first, you are amazed at the red color that is present all around, and then you gradually make sense of the picturesque congregation of volumes that share a multitude of functions. And it’s only later that you realize that this conglomerate conceals a modernist building, most of which the architects save intact.
The Black Mountain
The project of reconstructing the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet theater developed by Wowhaus, which won the competition, proposed a total demolition and new construction, as well as considerable expansion (up to 8 floors) – and transformable multifunctional spaces. The new project, however, does retain the recognizable elements and the image of the old theater. As for the main spectator hall, it is turned – figuratively speaking, of course – into a semblance of a black volcano.
Recently, Moscow saw the presentation of a project by Yuri Grigoryan, devoted to turning the truck garage on Novoryazanskaya Street, designed by Konstantin Melnikov, into the Museum of Moscow Transport. The project involves restoring the monument of architecture, adding a new underground floor and a new entrance, as well as a whole park. The implementation is already underway.
Houses by the Lakeside
Approvals came for the project of a housing complex that DNK ag designed in Kazan. The complex is low-rise; its sections are designed as separate volumes united by a common podium. Everything is very much like DNK: delicate and sometimes even lyrical, especially where the yard meets the lakeshore.
In Novosibirsk, the construction of a school has been completed, whose project is standing every chance to set a new standard for the nation’s educational institutions. SVESMI Architects and Brusnika company started by developing the brief that would answer the modern teaching practices, and then they proposed the optimum plan, versatile classrooms, and reserved, yet expressive, image in the spirit of this Amsterdam alliance.
An 800-room hotel complex, designed by Ginzburg Architects, offers the seaside city of Anapa a fragment of well-organized urban environment that keeps up the cultural spirit of the place. The architects break away from traditional white facades, turning to the antique and even archaic periods of the history of this land, and drawing inspiration in the color of red clay and simple, yet lightweight, shapes.
In Plumage Colors
Working on the facades of a mid-rise residential area in Odintsovsky district, GENPRO architects “adjusted” a number of features of the volumetric composition, which they received without the right to make any changes to, by purely “decorative” means, such as ornamental brickwork, including glazed bricks and the rhythm of the windows. Interestingly, the starting point in the search for the color code was the plumage of birds that are found in the Moscow region.
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One of the largest housing projects of today’s Moscow – the “Ostrov” (“Island”) housing complex built by Donstroy – is now being actively built in the Mnevniky Floodplain. They are planning to build about 1.5M square meters of housing on an area of almost 40 hectares. We are beginning to examine this project– first of all, we are talking to Julius Borisov, the head of the architectural company UNK, which works with most of the residential blocks in this grand-scale project, as well as with the landscaping part; the company even proposed a single design code for the entire territory.
A Balanced Solution
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In the city of Omsk, ASADOV architects took on a very challenging task: they are developing a concept of a public and residential complex, which involves reconstructing the city’s first thermal power station standing right next to Omsk’s first fortress. This territory has already seen a lot of projects designed for it, and the residential function of this land site has been the subject of heated debate. In this article, we are examining the project in question, aimed at developing a mid-scale city fabric suited for the historical center. We also examine the above-mentioned debate. Seriously, will this project save this place or will it bring it to ruin?
A Multi-Faced Grotto
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