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An Educational Experiment for the North

City-Arch continues to work on the projects that can be termed as “experimental public preschools”: private kindergartens and schools can envy such facilities in many respects. This time around, the project is done for the city of Gubkinsky, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. A diverse educational and play environment, including a winter garden, awaits future students, while the teachers will have abundant opportunities to implement new practices.

28 November 2023
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Educational space projects are one of City-Arch’s specialties, and it is important that in addition to working on the design assignment and the clients’ wishes, it was crystallized in connection with the growth of the three children of the company’s leaders, Anton and Natalia Lukomskiy. At some point in their lives, most parents become “connoisseurs” of the nuances of upbringing and education, but here I would like to emphasize: in addition to the inevitably varied parental experience of communicating with educational organizations, in which from time to time you want to correct something, and sometimes radically change everything about them to make life and growth easier not only for you, but also for other children and parents – Natalia Lukomskaya also has professional experience as a participatory educator working with adolescents under the program “Art-lab”, developed together with Goethe-Institut.

In other words, the architectural company has someone who is both knowledgeable in architecture and understands the needs of both the child and the educator.

The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
Copyright: © City-Arch


For the first time it was possible to apply the family’s entire expertise in work with a kindergarten in Beloyarskoe – a state-run kindergarten, but nonetheless experimental. We wrote about it in detail at the project stage in 2014, and then again after its recent implementation. The unconventional approach took time for approvals, but the result surprised many people, including the Governor of the Yamalo-Nenets District, who came to the opening and then gave instructions to build similar kindergartens and schools in the region.

Kindergarten in Beloyarsky.
Copyright: City-Arch


As a result, City-Arch landed a commission for ten educational institutions for the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, but undertook to design six in four cities: Salekhard, Muravlenko, Tarko-Sale and Gubkinsky. We plan to tell you about all of them in succession.

There are plans to build a school and a kindergarten in the town of Gubkinsky. The circumstances are similar to Beloyarskoe: a government commission, near-extreme climatic conditions, and relatively greater creative freedom. The town, which lives by oil and gas production, is located 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. In 2006, the temperature here dropped to -62 Celsius. Children spend a significant part of the school year indoors, in polar night conditions, and parents try to drive them by car to the very entrance to the kindergarten – all of this is relevant to the concept.

The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
Copyright: © City-Arch


Increasing seed germination

The main goal of City-Arch is to create an environment in which all children would feel comfortable and safe, regardless of their temperament, personality or academic preferences. Feeling safe is the foundation for development, learning and progress, but this feeling of safety is achieved, of course, by a set of things that is far more complex than just strong walls and a roof over your head. The architects focus on how a child can learn better, and they build the environment accordingly, predetermining the amount of communication, and mutual exposure of children of different ages, fueling their interest in one another. Another task is to reduce unused space, which is a common issue for many schools with an excessive number of classrooms.

The school and kindergarten will be built in a new neighborhood at the eastern end of the city, not far from the main thoroughfare of the city – Mira Avenue, as well as the Pyakupur River. The original idea of City-Arch visualizes the idea of mentoring and succession of generations: the plans of the school and kindergarten buildings are similar, yet independent from one another; they exist within the boundaries of a single circle and are connected by a common core – a playground where the children can meet up and learn from one another.

The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
Copyright: © City-Arch


The land sites of the school and kindergarten, located next to each other, could not be merged due to regulations, and the shape of the plans was slightly adjusted: while according to the original idea the school “embraced” the kindergarten as a senior would embrace junior, in the final version one of the protrusions – “horns of the moon” – was straightened. The common street space has been preserved, but it will also be divided by a fence – currently, the architects are working on options that will make it as transparent as possible.

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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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Winter garden

The double-height play space becomes the semantic and spatial center of the kindergarten. It extends to the inner arc of the “bagel” and is connected to the outside world and the school by the membrane of a large stained glass window. The height of the window sills here is a comfortable 40 cm for children. The space is deliberately a little oversaturated with functions and possibilities: if all the ideas can be realized, the children will have choice and variety throughout the year.

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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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First of all, the most desirable and inaccessible things during the polar night – greenery and light – are supposed to be available here in abundance. A winter garden becomes a background for games: architects plan to make a relief, plant large trees, shrubs and grasses. Special lamps borrowed from space technologies will allow them to grow. Living plants will be complemented by artificial lawn and wooden glued columns in the form of stylized trees.

The garden is filled with objects suitable for secluded recreation and group interaction, and it resembles a good playground in a park: there is a slide, a bridge, a playhouse, and the possibility of setting up a sandbox inside the building is currently being discussed. The planetarium pavilion is expected to show not only the starry sky, but also, for example, in winter – projections of the summer forest with birdsong and sun glare. For those children who like to regain their strength in solitude and silence, there are cozy houses standing in recessions – these houses are included in the architectural solutions, and, therefore, there is reason to hope that it will be impossible to cut them in the process of implementation.

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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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The islands of the upper level of the playground can be accessed from the second floor: slides, tree houses, hammocks and wicker mazes are located here. This is also where the free-plan circle areas are woven in. This organization of the space masks the two-story structure of the building and creates an “outdoor” feel.

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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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With the help of partitions, the playroom can be zoned for various tasks. For example, the amphitheater is oriented towards the music room, which is closed on regular days, but on holidays it turns into a stage where kids give concerts and show theatrical performances to their parents. Above the music hall, there is a sports hall. In the “horns” of the crescent of the kindergarten building there is a canteen and a swimming pool; in the center, there is a conventional “front” entrance and a buffer zone for parents, where they come on the days of events.

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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
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Cell of society

Group cells gather around the play space – the younger ones on the first floor, the older ones on the second floor. From these cells, you can always see what is going on in the center. The rooms are oriented to the south, each with its own exit to the street: parents and children coming from the street do not cross through the play space, leaving it clean.

Mobile partitions make it possible to utilize the space of the sleeping area and changing rooms during games and activities during the day. Bunk beds disappear into niches, freeing up space. Lightweight and mobile furniture helps to adapt the room for activities, as well as small rearrangements every 3-5 weeks that get your child excited about exploring the space. These solutions, as well as moving away from a corridor system in favor of a large “playground” allows for a smaller building footprint, increasing the ratio of play space per child.

The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
Copyright: © City-Arch


Shining or Scandinavia?

For the facades, the architects developed several solutions that relate to the context: one, for example, uses panels with a “chameleon” coating, which creates a sense of iridescent cold glow when moving around the building, while the other uses more wood texture and bright color.

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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky. THe architectural solutions of the facades. The “Scandinavia” version
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky. THe architectural solutions of the facades. The “Shining” version
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky. THe architectural solutions of the facades. The “Chekers” version
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    The kindergarten in Gubkinsky. THe architectural solutions of the facades. The “Lamellae” version
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As was already mentioned, three kindergartens will be built in Gubkinsky under the same City-Arch project, and all the three directors chose the Scandinavia solution without any hesitation. The volume of the building is pulled together by the “hoops” of the bearing floors with wood cladding, and vertically the floors are united by light-colored pilasters of varying width. A clear rhythm is set by lamellas, painted in rich colors on the sides. Bright orange stained glass windows and invitingly curved lamellae accentuate the entrance groups.

Since the façade will be viewed at night for a significant part of the time, the architects were asked to present no less than 20 illumination options. They chose linear RGBW addressable luminaires, which can be controlled by middle and high school students as part of the project activities, setting different scenarios and stories.

The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
Copyright: © City-Arch


The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
Copyright: © City-Arch


Platforms

Each group has a playground of its own with a shade canopy, as well as shared sandboxes and play equipment. All these areas are united into a single complex by natural colors and materials of small architectural forms. Artificial terrain and colored pavements help to bring variety. The landscaping uses native plants that children can learn about as part of their outdoor activities.

Construction of the first kindergarten in Gubkinsky is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2024.

The kindergarten in Gubkinsky
Copyright: © City-Arch
***

Natalia Lukomskaya says that the Ministry of Education prepares programs of a fairly high level, but the vast majority of schools do not use them, continuing to operate in the old way, and the changes are slow to come.
Accordingly, a good building is not a guarantee of good education or a quantum leap: if the teaching staff does not know how to use the possibilities of the environment, then soon common spaces will be divided into classes, and hexagonal desks will be arranged in straight rows. This is why the design of schools and kindergartens, especially public ones, must be accompanied by a dialog with teachers: that is why the architects organize special seminars for teachers, and soon they are planning to prepare a methodological manual on the use of new types of kindergartens as well as on their design.

28 November 2023

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.