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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.

08 February 2024
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Inhabited Vineyard

Derbent is not only the oldest city in Russia, but also the first one to start implementing such a master plan. The competition for its development was held in 2019; currently, much of the project developed by the winning consortium has already been implemented: a section of the seaside boulevard has been improved, the ancient quarters of Magala have been tidied up, the “Tourist Mile” route has connected the tourist attractions, parks and public gardens have been opened, and a sports palace is under construction. There are still many projects ahead to turn the city into a sought-after resort, but already now the city is clearly attractive not only for tourists, but also for investors.

One of the activities of the master plan is the so-called New Derbent: a residential neighborhood in the southern part of the city that will occupy 160 hectares of former vineyards between the Caspian Sea and the mountain slopes.

The initiative to create such a district came from the city administration and the city’s chief architect Isa Magomedov, who was extremely involved in the transformation, so the program far exceeded the standard development one: in addition to housing and schools, there will be a spiritual center, a marriage palace, an educational cluster, and other projects, which together will represent a piece of exemplary modern Derbent. With this project, the city administration has streamlined the arrival of investors in the city: for the city center, they duly introduced height restrictions and façade regulations, and the developers were offered a free territory, which was further regulated by its own master plan, which defined the parameters of the development and its design code. This is quite an appropriate step, given the kind of high-rise neighborhoods that have begun to appear on the outskirts of Derbent in recent years.

The first to work with the land site were the foreign practices WATG and Tanmiya. Then OSA – with extensive experience in preparing similar projects – was involved in the work.

Three Centerpieces

From the very beginning, it was determined that the heart of the new district – both semantic and spatial – would be the Spiritual Center, for which a 36-hectare square land site, clearly visible from the Kavkaz highway, was allocated. Given the significance and scale of the project, a competition was held for it in 2021: the concept included a mosque named “Mother’s Tears” for 40,000 worshippers, an Orthodox church and a synagogue, as well as the improvement of the park with the creation of a library and a museum. None of the submitted competition projects fully satisfied the administration, and it is likely that another competition will be held in the future.

The “Southern” district
Copyright: © OSA


The mosque as the main object of the spiritual center becomes the point of reference for building the composition of the entire neighborhood, which corresponds to the classical approach to urban planning based on the centric system and the system of axes. The mosque determined the location of the new streets, as well as the hierarchy of neighborhoods: the closer to it, the more solemn and austere the facades are.

Two more public clusters are being built together with the mosque in a diagonal pattern. At the entrance to the new district from the “Kavkaz” highway, there is a Hospitality Center: here worshippers and tourists will be able to leave their cars, rent a hotel room, have a snack, and get the necessary information. Across the road from it, there is a marriage palace. The opposite corner includes educational institutions: a university building, a school, an educational center, and a medical center.

The “Southern” district
Copyright: © OSA


The connecting link between all three clusters and the entry point for visitors is a pedestrian bridge, which forms an extensive system of barrier-free promenades. The office held an internal competition to find the shape of this element.

The “Southern” district
Copyright: © OSA


The bridge is supposed to be spanning three artificial hills, so that its canvas smoothly rises and falls, opening up views of the mountains, the sea and the spiritual center. The second level increases pedestrian space and also provides shaded areas. When viewed from above, the curves of the aerial promenades resemble Arabic ligature. There is already a similar bridge in the center of Derbent, connecting the “Tourist Mile” with Nizami Park – it is invariably popular among citizens and tourists.

The “Southern” district
Copyright: © OSA


The “Southern” district
Copyright: © OSA


A Street With a Design Code

The rest of the space is filled by mid-rise residential areas and the business center. As was already mentioned, they are subordinated to a hierarchy, the determining role in which is played by proximity to the spiritual center. The architects emphasize the typology of each block with the help of plastique and decorative solutions stipulated in the design code. Another influential factor is the sunshine, which can be very hot indeed here: to keep the rooms from overheating, the architects varied the depth of the chamfers, the pattern of balconies and the height of sections. Terraces are found more as an exception in order to diversify the apartment range and form a more expressive silhouette: according to OCA, people in Russia do not use summer rooms very often, even in regions with a hot climate.

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    The “Southern” district
    Copyright: © OSA
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    The “Southern” district
    Copyright: © OSA
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    The “Southern” district
    Copyright: © OSA
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    The “Southern” district
    Copyright: © OSA
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    The “Southern” district
    Copyright: © OSA


The southern residential areas, located along the main latitudinal street with the project name of Izobilnaya (“Plentiful”), overlook the garden of the Spiritual Center and welcome visitors, including motorcades of officials. Therefore, the facades are austere and grand, but at the same time authentic, faced with Derbent stone, and there are no balconies or loggias on the street side. The blocks stretch all the way to the border of the site, where the railroad runs, and the sea view opens up.

The “Southern” district
Copyright: © OSA


The “Southern” district
Copyright: © OSA


The most representative front of the development is the eastern one, formed by administration buildings and business centers. Compositions of cubic blocks, not resembling ordinary residential neighborhoods, enriched the overall silhouette of the construction. Behind them, there are a hotel, shopping centers and an open-air market, without which it is impossible to imagine any southern city.

The “Southern” district
Copyright: © OSA


The last line is composed of the seaside residential blocks, where residents have the opportunity to admire the sea views: there are more terraces, more balconies, and a larger glazing area than in the other areas. The entire eastern quarter is cut by three beams of streets, in the perspective of which you can see either the sea or the mosque looming against the mountains. Peter the Great, who once traveled to Derbent, would have appreciated this solution – the three beams definitely remind one of the “Neva Trident” converging at the Admiralty.

The “Southern” district
Copyright: © OSA


The “Southern” district
Copyright: © OSA


The northern areas also overlook the garden of the Spiritual Center, but gradually dissolve into the existing development. Here, houses are compactly grouped around kindergartens, forming semi- enclosed city blocks whose courtyards form a network of green pedestrian routes. In the finishing of facades, plaster is allowed; as you get further away from the mosque their plastique becomes less tense. It is from this part of the district that the implementation of the master plan began – the residential complex “Granatovy” is being built on the border with the existing development, which the architects of the master plan assess positively: the developer uses the set of techniques laid down by them, and the design code works.

Flexible Links

The street and road network takes into account the variety of possible scenarios in the new neighborhood. A transportation semicircle makes it possible to connect the new district to the already existing streets, and a regular block grid allows for variation of daily routes and flexible traffic diversion without compromising the comfort of residents – for example, in the case of Friday prayers, which attract many worshippers, or the visit of top officials to the administrative block, when traffic restrictions are unavoidable.

The master plan includes overpasses that will connect the three beams of the streets in the eastern city block with the coast. Currently, the access to the sea is blocked by the railroad bed – as in almost the entire city: getting to the water in Derbent is not so easy yet; however, it is obvious that this will change in time. Building a railway station platform near the new district is not yet planned.

***
It is enough to spend just one hour in Derbent to understand that its southern districts will become a new stage in its urban history. Currently, the city does not have the thought-out ensemble quality and transparent hierarchy of streets that the new master plan offers. At the same time, the new blocks do not look alien: they are rooted not only in Derbent’s stone, ornaments and massive volumes, but also in a relatively low density, small number of stories and diverse silhouette. There are new houses that do not aspire to be taller than the religious buildings, streets from which one can see the horizon, the sea and the mountains, and gardens under the windows – such an environment is organic to a city with a population of a few more than a hundred thousand people.

Simultaneously with modern urban planning solutions, the southern district brings a new lifestyle to Derbent. And this, perhaps, is the only thing that raises questions. After the master plan began to be implemented, the cost per square meter of housing in the city has increased dramatically, while the income of residents has largely remained at the same level, pretty low. It is not clear who will populate the new residential areas in this case – the residents of Derbent, or still more affluent residents of the capitals, who will have a new place for wintering and an interesting option for investment.


08 February 2024

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
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The “Snake” Mountain
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Opal from Anna Mons’ Ring
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Feed ’Em All
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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
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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
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A Single-Industry Town
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A New Age Portico
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A New Starting Point
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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.