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.

30 November 2023
RuArts Foundation
Russia, Moscow

2018 — 2019 / 2021
The building of the RuArts Foundation, designed by Vera Butko and Anton Nadtochiy (ATRIUM) in 2018-2019, and built also by them by 2021, has two main features – one is based on continuity, and the other is based on contrast. 

When we talk about continuity, we first of all mean the RuArts gallery on Ostozhenka, whose inner space was designed by the same architects 20 years ago. Back then, the gallery also was hosted in a former residential building, or, rather, it occupied two large 2-story apartments. The main technique that set this project apart from the others was concrete staircases that united the exposition halls, and not just in the usual navigational sense but in terms of organizing space as well – the solution was a little bit Asher-esque, but slightly more predictable: the architects turned the staircases into gray concrete parallelepipeds that cut the floors at a tilting angle, comfortable enough to make an ascent.

RuArts Gallery 2022-2005. The inner space
Copyright: © ATRIUM

Back in 2005, this solution was a total stunner, and the gallery (and later on the foundation itself) – I don’t know whether by chance or by design – used the stairway image as part of their logo. This, of course, may mean a few other things: RuArts position themselves as an institution open to the professional community’s agenda; furthermore, the foundation not just buys but also sponsors art projects – for example, art performances, so the staircase can be interpreted as a metaphor for upward motion for the participants of the process. 

Thus, it comes as no surprise that the new place for the foundation was chosen to be a multistory building in the center of the city: its very location is conducive to it, the format is now habitual, and the very motion from one floor to another seems to have become a signature metaphor for RuArts. However, the Trubnikov Lane features six floors instead of four.

  • zooming
    Section view 1-1. RuArts Foundation. Trubnikovsky Lane, 6
    Copyright: © ATRIUM
  • zooming
    Section view 2-2. RuArts Foundation. Trubnikovsky Lane, 6
    Copyright: © ATRIUM

It must be said that reforming a former residential building into a housing gallery is a pretty tall order – starting with the fact that these are two different typologies. One of the things that come to mind here is the memory of “kvartirniks”, private underground unplugged performances by outlaw Russian bands that were staged in people’s apartments (the Russian for “apartment” is “kvartira”, hence the term). Now imagine that the “kvartirnik” has expanded and filled the entire house. Well, I digress – there is no direct resemblance to a “kvartirnik” here – RuArts does attract nonconformist artists, but its galleries are quite glamorous. 

So! The main typological difference between a housing project and an art gallery lies in the fact that an apartment building of any kind is essentially composed of multiple contained cells, while a gallery of modern art must be as open as possible, and not just this particular one – this is an unwritten rule for the entire typology. The exposition hall is by default much better if a visitor has an opportunity to flow from one space to another, and it is extremely advisable that they can see one hall from another, so that they want to go there. Of course, one of the best examples of how this task can be brilliantly solved is Wright’s Guggenheim Museum with its spiral ramp and open atrium – and architects around the world are trying to copy it in this or that way. 

But what do you do with a former tenement house – narrow, tall, and having 6 floors in it? The obvious choice was to cut an atrium right through it, which was what the architects did. The atrium adjoins the street facade, cuts through four floors, and stops at the fifth in a band of glass, through which you can look down and see everything right through. The atrium also adjoins the staircase for the visitors with glazed gaps running down to the floor – they provide light to the staircase and create a presence effect thanks to the fact that you can always “peek outside”, while the exposition halls located on floors 2-4 overlook the atrium with large balconies.

  • zooming
    Window of the staircase, view of the atrium. RuArts Foundation. Trubnikovsky Lane, 6
    Copyright: Photo © Daniel Annenkov / provided by ATRIUM
  • zooming
    Atrium, view from bottom up. RuArts Foundation. Trubnikovsky Lane, 6
    Copyright: Photo © Daniel Annenkov / provided by ATRIUM

In other words, you can look both upward and downward here, and, being on a floor, you at the same remain in the overall space, not fully leaving it – not counting a couple of nooks on the left, but they also serve a purpose – you need them for a contrast and for filming videos.

One should hardly mention the fact that the staircase that connects all the floors is the main, but not the chief one. The chief one is the concrete staircase, and it connects the first floor to the second.

RuArts Foundation. Trubnikovsky Lane, 6
Copyright: Photo © Sergey Nadtochiy / provided by ATRIUM

One can easily see this staircase from the outside through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the first floor, and it bears clear resemblance with the RuArts logo, publicly exposed here: you can see it not just inside, but on the outside as well. I want to emphasize that in this case we are dealing with a situation when the architects proposed a “sign”, the client accepted it, and then it was played back 18 years later – by mutual consent, as the gallery said. This is a rare occurrence by any standards, and particularly by Moscow ones. I would happily provide similar examples, but nothing comes to mind. Even though nowadays virtually every architect offers a logo for his project, that’s not the point I am trying to make – I would be thrilled to find other such examples of mutual agreement and stability of perception.

The concrete staircase is the same, yet… it’s not the same because the space itself is different. It adjoins the balcony because it only has two runs in it, and then makes a sharp turn. In the first version, each staircase was “a thing in itself” with steps running on the inner and outer surfaces of the parallelepiped, and the turn was made by virtue of placing one volume at an angle to the other. In this sense, the staircase of the foundation is more “classic”, even though it is acutely similar to its prototype due to the “comb” of the stairs, which you see from below, and the gray “concrete” color, in which it is painted. What also makes it different is a “gothic” railing, embedded in the wall – looks really beautiful.

The concrete staircase. RuArts Foundation. Trubnikovsky Lane, 6
Copyright: Photo © Daniel Annenkov / provided by ATRIUM

While the staircase is more classic, the rest of the space is bolder – at least because of the fact that the atrium is taller and more open. The very opportunity to take a look at the first floor from the height of the fourth is exciting as it is, but here yet another nuance comes into play, particularly noticeable when you look from the balconies: we see the wall with windows from the inside, like a decoration. You cannot have so many windows on the inside, and their vertical sequence helps to emphasize the intermediate situation of the atrium between “inside” and “outside”.

RuArts Foundation. Trubnikovsky Lane, 6
Copyright: Photo: RuArts Foundation

Another thing that indicates the new approach is the reception desk – it has a nonlinear shape, it is asymmetric, it has dents of various sizes that look like circles on the water, and the impression is completed by a run-through hole. One can imagine that ATRIUM has collected here, in this atrium (yes, pun intended) its past and its future: the past is represented by the staircase, and the future is represented by the digital shape that the architects are actively developing even in metaverse – the sculptural reception desk as a new starting point of sorts.

Well, the reception desk wasn’t designed by a neural network, but sooner or later something like this is to be expected. In addition, the architects originally planned to make the desk on a 3D printer but then they cast it in a composite material – but then again, the production method did not affect its shape in any way.

Usually, buildings are described from the outside in: the floor plan, the facade, and, finally, the interior. However, in this case, it turned out to be the opposite because the interior is more important here. Still, the façade has a curious story of its own. Let me begin by saying that if you search for the building online, you’ll find that it’s an income-generating property built in 1915 by the architect Konstantin Apollonov. To some extent, that’s true; it likely still retains some of the load-bearing structures from the early 20th century. However, from 2008 to 2011, the building underwent significant reconstruction, initially for housing, but during this process, it acquired a peculiar pink facade, only vaguely reminiscent of Apollonov’s design. So, the proud inscription in Roman numerals on the canopy “2015” had nothing to do with the building’s external appearance.

The main feature of the foundation is not at all about a love for the pseudo-classicism of the late years but about collecting and supporting contemporary art. Thus, the architects, in collaboration with the client, decided to make the façade modern.

RuArts Foundation. Trubnikovsky Lane, 6
Copyright: Photo: RuArts Foundation

It retained the proportions and somewhat clumsy, although now even brutal, volume of the mansard floor. Still, the main plane of the façade became gray, textured plaster in a strip. I must note that this plaster skillfully imitates fiber cement panels of different sizes, shades, and relief strip placements. So, the façade is not flat; rather, it has acquired a mosaic-like pattern. The lower floor is dark, faced with fiber cement. As we recall, the windows are enlarged to display cases, and a strict linear lighting is embedded. The entrance portal, another element connecting the “inside” and “outside”, is transformed into an austere Corten frame. According to the laws of modern architecture and art, this frame continues inside on the staircase, serving as a gateway into the interior.

The entrance portal. RuArts Foundation. Trubnikovsky Lane, 6
Copyright: Photo © Daniel Annenkov / provided by ATRIUM

And let someone now tell me that every income-generating house in Moscow must be preserved exactly as it was or very close to the original. In this case, it’s both similar and dissimilar, but certainly fresher than what preceded it.

Interestingly, bloggers casually attribute the pink facade of 2008 to the year 1915. Make no mistake, this is NOT the original façade!

RuArts Foundation
Russia, Moscow

2018 — 2019 / 2021

30 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.