​Living in a Forest

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.

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.

Apartments in Roshchino. Overview
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

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.

Apartments in Roshchino. Master plan
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

Apartments in Roshchino. Functional zoning
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

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.

Apartments in Roshchino
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

Apartments in Roshchino. House Type Б
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

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.

Apartments in Roshchino
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

Apartments in Roshchino
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

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.

Apartments in Roshchino. House Type В
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

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.

Apartments in Roshchino. Villa
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

Apartments in Roshchino. Skyway
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

Apartments in Roshchino. Skyway
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

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.

Apartments in Roshchino. Skyway
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

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.

Apartments in Roshchino. Tea yard
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

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.

Apartments in Roshchino. Health center
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

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.

Apartments in Roshchino. Plaza
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

The project will be implemented; currently, the construction permit has been issued.
Apartments in Roshchino. Parking
Copyright: © GAFA Architects

04 October 2022

Headlines now
The Mirror of Your Soul
We continue to publish projects from the competition for the design of the Russian Pavilion at EXPO in Osaka 2025. We are reminding you that the results of the competition have not been announced, and hardly will ever be. The pavilion designed by ASADOV Architects combines a forest log cabin, the image of a hyper transition, and sculptures made of glowing threads – it focuses primarily on the scenography of the exhibition, which the pavilion builds sequentially like a string of impressions, dedicating it to the paradoxes of the Russian soul.
Part of the Ideal
In 2025, another World Expo will take place in Osaka, Japan, in which Russia will not participate. However, a competition for the Russian pavilion was indeed held, with six projects participating. The results were never announced as Russia’s participation was canceled; the competition has no winners. Nevertheless, Expo pavilion projects are typically designed for a bold and interesting architectural statement, so we’ve gathered all the six projects and will be publishing articles about them in random order. The first one is the project by Vladimir Plotkin and Reserve Union, which is distinguished by the clarity of its stereometric shape, the boldness of its structure, and the multiplicity of possible interpretations.
The Fortress by the River
ASADOV Architects have developed a concept for a new residential district in the center of Kemerovo. To combat the harsh climate and monotonous everyday life, the architects proposed a block type of development with dominant towers, good insolation, facades detailed at eye level, and event programming.
In the Rhombus Grid
Construction has begun on the building of the OMK (United Metallurgical Company) Corporate University in Nizhny Novgorod’s town of Vyksa, designed by Ostozhenka Architects. The most interesting aspect of the project is how the architects immersed it in the context: “extracting” a diagonal motif from the planning grid of Vyksa, they aligned the building, the square, and the park to match it. A truly masterful work with urban planning context on several different levels of perception has long since become the signature technique of Ostozhenka.
​Generational Connection
Another modern estate, designed by Roman Leonidov, is located in the Moscow region and brings together three generations of one family under one roof. To fit on a narrow plot without depriving anyone of personal space, the architects opted for a zigzag plan. The main volume in the house structure is accentuated by mezzanines with a reverse-sloped roof and ceilings featuring exposed beams.
Three Dimensions of the City
We began to delve into the project by Sergey Skuratov, the residential complex “Depo” in Minsk, located at Victory Square, and it fascinated us completely. The project has at least several dimensions to it: historical – at some point, the developer decided to discontinue further collaboration with Sergey Skuratov Architects, but the concept was approved, and its implementation continues, mostly in accordance with the proposed ideas. The spatial and urban planning dimension – the architects both argue with the city and play along with it, deciphering nuances, and finding axes. And, finally, the tactile dimension – the constructed buildings also have their own intriguing features. Thus, this article also has two parts: it dwells on what has been built and what was conceived
New “Flight”
Architects from “Mezonproject” have developed a project for the reconstruction of the regional youth center “Polyot”(“Flight”) in the city of Oryol. The summer youth center, built back in the late 1970s, will now become year-round and acquire many additional functions.
The Yauza Towers
In Moscow, there aren’t that many buildings or projects designed by Nikita Yavein and Studio 44. In this article, we present to you the concept of a large multifunctional complex on the Yauza River, located between two parks, featuring a promenade, a crossroads of two pedestrian streets, a highly developed public space, and an original architectural solution. This solution combines a sophisticated, asymmetric façade grid, reminiscent of a game of fifteen puzzle, and bold protrusions of the upper parts of the buildings, completely masking the technical floors and sculpting the complex’s silhouette.
Architecture and Leisure Park
For the suburban hotel complex, which envisages various formats of leisure, the architectural company T+T Architects proposed several types of accommodation, ranging from the classic “standard” in a common building to a “cave in the hill” and a “house in a tree”. An additional challenge consisted in integrating a few classic-style residences already existing on this territory into the “architectural forest park”.
The U-House
The Jois complex combines height with terraces, bringing the most expensive apartments from penthouses down to the bottom floors. The powerful iconic image of the U-shaped building is the result of the creative search for a new standard of living in high-rise buildings by the architects of “Genpro”.
Black and White
In this article, we specifically discuss the interiors of the ATOM Pavilion at VDNKh. Interior design is a crucial component of the overall concept in this case, and precision and meticulous execution were highly important for the architects. Julia Tryaskina, head of UNK interiors, shares some of the developments.
The “Snake” Mountain
The competition project for the seaside resort complex “Serpentine” combines several typologies: apartments of different classes, villas, and hotel rooms. For each of these typologies, the KPLN architects employ one of the images that are drawn from the natural environment – a serpentine road, a mountain stream, and rolling waves.
Opal from Anna Mons’ Ring
The project of a small business center located near Tupolev Plaza and Radio Street proclaims the necessity of modern architecture in a specific area of Moscow commonly known as “Nemetskaya Sloboda” or “German settlement”. It substantiates its thesis with the thoroughness of details, a multitude of proposed and rejected form variants, and even a detailed description of the surrounding area. The project is interesting indeed, and it is even more interesting to see what will come of it.
Feed ’Em All
A “House of Russian Cuisine” was designed and built by KROST Group at VDNKh for the “Rossiya” exhibition in record-breaking time. The pavilion is masterfully constructed in terms of the standards of modern public catering industry multiplied by the bustling cultural program of the exhibition, and it interprets the stylistically diverse character of VDNKh just as successfully. At the same time, much of its interior design can be traced back to the prototypes of the 1960s – so much so that even scenes from iconic Soviet movies of those years persistently come to mind.
The Ensemble at the Mosque
OSA prepared a master plan for a district in the southern part of Derbent. The main task of the master plan is to initiate the formation of a modern comfortable environment in this city. The organization of residential areas is subordinated to the city’s spiritual center: depending on the location relative to the cathedral mosque, the houses are distinguished by façade and plastique solutions. The program also includes a “hospitality center”, administrative buildings, an educational cluster, and even an air bridge.
Pargolovo Protestantism
A Protestant church is being built in St. Petersburg by the project of SLOI architects. One of the main features of the building is a wooden roof with 25-meter spans, which, among other things, forms the interior of the prayer hall. Also, there are other interesting details – we are telling you more about them.
The Shape of the Inconceivable
The ATOM Pavilion at VDNKh brings to mind a famous maxim of all architects and critics: “You’ve come up with it? Now build it!” You rarely see such a selfless immersion in implementation of the project, and the formidable structural and engineering tasks set by UNK architects to themselves are presented here as an integral and important part of the architectural idea. The challenge matches the obliging status of the place – after all, it is an “exhibition of achievements”, and the pavilion is dedicated to the nuclear energy industry. Let’s take a closer look: from the outside, from the inside, and from the underside too.
​Rays of the Desert
A school for 1750 students is going to be built in Dubai, designed by IND Architects. The architects took into account the local specifics, and proposed a radial layout and spaces, in which the children will be comfortable throughout the day.
The Dairy Theme
The concept of an office of a cheese-making company, designed for the enclosed area of a dairy factory, at least partially refers to industrial architecture. Perhaps that is why this concept is very simple, which seems the appropriate thing to do here. The building is enlivened by literally a couple of “master strokes”: the turning of the corner accentuates the entrance, and the shade of glass responds to the theme of “milk rivers” from Russian fairy tales.
The Road to the Temple
Under a grant from the Small Towns Competition, the main street and temple area of the village of Nikolo-Berezovka near Neftekamsk has been improved. A consortium of APRELarchitects and Novaya Zemlya is turning the village into an open-air museum and integrating ruined buildings into public life.
​Towers Leaning Towards the Sun
The three towers of the residential complex “Novodanilovskaya 8” are new and the tallest neighbors of the Danilovsky Manufactory, “Fort”, and “Plaza”, complementing a whole cluster of modern buildings designed by renowned masters. At the same time, the towers are unique for this setting – they are residential, they are the tallest ones here, and they are located on a challenging site. In this article, we explore how architects Andrey Romanov and Ekaterina Kuznetsova tackled this far-from-trivial task.
In the spirit of ROSTA posters
The new Rostselmash tractor factory, conceptualized by ASADOV Architects, is currently being completed in Rostov-on-Don. References to the Soviet architecture of the 1920’s and 1960’s resonate with the mission and strategic importance of the enterprise, and are also in line with the client’s wish: to pay homage to Rostov’s constructivism.
The Northern Thebaid
The central part of Ferapontovo village, adjacent to the famous monastery with frescoes by Dionisy, has been improved according to the project by APRELarchitects. Now the place offers basic services for tourists, as well as a place for the villagers’ leisure.
Brilliant Production
The architects from London-based MOST Architecture have designed the space for the high-tech production of Charge Cars, a high-performance production facility for high-speed electric cars that are assembled in the shell of legendary Ford Mustangs. The founders of both the company and the car assembly startup are Russians who were educated in their home country.
Three-Part Task: St. Petersburg’s Mytny Dvor
The so-called “Mytny Dvor” area lying just behind Moscow Railway Station – the market rows with a complex history – will be transformed into a premium residential complex by Studio 44. The project consists of three parts: the restoration of historical buildings, the reconstruction of the lost part of the historical contour, and new houses. All of them are harmonized with each other and with the city; axes and “beams of light” were found, cozy corners and scenic viewpoints were carefully thought out. We had a chat with the authors of the historical buildings’ restoration project, and we are telling you about all the different tasks that have been solved here.
The Color of the City, or Reflections on the Slope of an Urban Settlement
In 2022, Ostozhenka Architects won a competition, and in 2023, they developed and received all the necessary approvals for a master plan for the development of Chernigovskaya Street for the developer GloraX. The project takes into account a 10-year history of previous developments; it was done in collaboration with architects from Nizhny Novgorod, and it continues to evolve now. We carefully examined it, talked to everyone, and learned a lot of interesting things.
A Single-Industry Town
Kola MMC and Nornickel are building a residential neighborhood in Monchegorsk for their future employees. It is based on a project by an international team that won the 2021 competition. The project offers a number of solutions meant to combat the main “demons” of any northern city: wind, grayness and boredom.
A New Age Portico
At the beginning of the year, Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport opened Terminal C. The large-scale and transparent entrance hall with luminous columns inside successfully combines laconism with a bright and photogenic WOW-effect. The terminal is both the new façade of the whole complex and the starting point of the planned reconstruction, upon completion of which Tolmachevo will become the largest regional airport in Russia. In this article, we are examining the building in the context of modernist prototypes of both Novosibirsk and Leningrad: like puzzle pieces, they come together to form their individual history, not devoid of curious nuances and details.
A New Starting Point
We’ve been wanting to examine the RuArts Foundation space, designed by ATRIUM for quite a long time, and we finally got round to it. This building looks appropriate and impressive; it amazingly combines tradition – represented in our case by galleries – and innovation. In this article, we delve into details and study the building’s historical background as well.
Molding Perspectives
Stepan Liphart introduces “schematic Art Deco” on the outskirts of Kazan – his houses are executed in green color, with a glassy “iced” finish on the facades. The main merits of the project lie in his meticulous arrangement of viewing angles – the architect is striving to create in a challenging environment the embryo of a city not only in terms of pedestrian accessibility but also in a sculptural sense. He works with silhouettes, proposing intriguing triangular terraces. The entire project is structured like a crystal, following two grids, orthogonal and diagonal. In this article, we are examining what worked, and what eventually didn’t.