House at the Bend (It Grows on You)
By the project of “Architecturium” Studio, on the Mashkinskoe Highway, the construction of “Novogorsk Olympic Village” is underway. This year, the checkpoint building and the four-story residential house, located on the front line of the settlement, have been put into operation.
The project of “Novogorsk Olympic Village” was launched back in 2009, and it is now entering its final phase. The townhouses have already been built, the people have moved in, and underway is the construction of the multifunctional complex with a restaurant, a school, and the training center of the Olympic team of Russia in rhythmic gymnastics. Complete is the “entrance gate” of the settlement – the checkpoint building – as well as the four-story residential building located nearby. These two volumes, due to their situation, promise to become the “visiting card” of Novogorsk, so it stands to reason that the architects paid particular attention to their design.
The project of the building that, besides the security office, is going to house the operation services and the sales office underwent numerous changes in the course of the development the image of the “Olympic Village”. For a long time, the architects treated it as an integral part of the multifunctional complex – formally, these volumes were separated by the road that links Novogorsk to the Mashkinskoe Highway but the authors used their proximity to design an imposing arch between them.
Later on, the building of the multifunctional complex grew considerably larger in size, and the arch that now was only half of its height started looking strange, so the architects had to give it up. Vladimir Binderman’s team, however, wanted to keep some visual unity between these two structures, and this is why the checkpoint building, while formally breaking away from its “big brother”, develops the same image and plastic theme that was set by the main public building of the “Olympic village”. And, while this large volume gets on top of it a wave-shaped roof that is meant to imitate the Olympic ribbon, the compact checkpoint becomes its tail or its shred that for a split second bounced over to this side with a wave of the gymnast’s hand. Hence the “tell-tale” shape of this small-sized construction: the wave of the neighboring roof wears down to nil here, cascading down to the ground.
It is the roof that plays the most important part here: the building has a prominent marquee that proudly towers over the fully glazed sidewall overlooking the entrance and the multifunctional complex, while on the opposite side the roof makes a dramatic bend and turns into a fully-fledged facade. The expressiveness of this “gesture” is enhanced manifold by the rather tangible thickness of the roof chosen by the architects, its dark-chocolate color, as well as its seam. Plus – the presence of a few grown trees on the land site made the architects cut a large rectangular opening in the marquee. “In spite of the fact that it made the whole construction more complicated, this solution was still of the win-win kind: thanks to it, we were able to keep the trees intact, and take the excessive weight off the roof” – Vladimir Binderman explains. Out of the same conservation reasons, the architects raised the building a little above the ground by placing it on a slab of reinforced concrete with low-rise supports; the space underneath them filled with gravel.
On the layout, this volume has an arched shape with its inner radius turned in the direction of the road. Apart from its sloping “back”, created by the bent end of the roof, all of its other facades are almost completely glazed. However, while the “entrance” side-wall is left completely transparent, the longer facades are protected by slanting pergolas. These elements connect the base of the slab with the roof, simultaneously serving as a screen that conceals the outdoor air conditioners and at the same time singles out a small gallery that unites the different entrances to the building.
The plan of the residential house is also based on the idea of the arch that follows the bend of the Mashkinskoe Highway that makes a rather sharp turn here. The architects did not want to replicate the configuration of the red line verbatim, though, and this is why they trace it not with a semicircular facade but with numerous dentils. In other words, the architects built a gearwheel house, and not a joint-hinge house. Still, the indoor layout of this building does bring up the “hinge” associations: its two smoothly bent residential wings are linked to the central “core” of the communication nucleus with two stairwells, an entrance lobby, and a freight elevator.
The fact that the house is situated at the turn of the highway left its mark not only on the compositional solution. In order to prevent this building from rendering this section of the highway even blinder to the drivers that it already was, the architects raised it on the supporting pillars one floor high. So it made perfect sense that the commissioner wanted to use the resulting space for setting up a parking garage here: initially this idea was in the project but when getting the approvals was already in full swing, new construction regulations were issued that forebode to place the open-air car park under a residential house. The car park version was not approved, even in spite of the presence of the fire marquee and the technical floor above it, so this “rising” really played into the hands of the highway drivers. Come to think of it, the building benefited from it too: now being in fact six floors high, it looks more imposing and proportional, dominating over the fence and providing secure protection from the highway noise to the townhouses behind it.
The fact that the house is located too close to the highway is compensated by the beautiful views of the levee on the Skhodnya River that flows on the other side of the highway. The water area that, by a stroke of luck, is the spot where the sun sets every evening is commanded by all the apartments of the house, while the townhouses are commanded by the corridors of the gallery type. The exception is the side-wall sections that, according to the project, house apartments of a greater square footage and thus having a double-sided orientation. The fanged plastic of the main facade is enhanced by the bay windows coated with dark wood – they serve as a substitute for the balconies, which, according to the authors, guarantees the preservation of the facade in its original state. For these same reasons, incidentally, the architects were able to persuade the commissioner to install the outdoor air-conditioner blocks on the roof – a special channel is connected to each and every apartment which helps avoid the appearance of mismatching boxes under every window.
In its present state, this house sports a genuinely noble look: the supports and the technical floor are coated in light-beige stucco, the three residential floors above it are faced with dark-beige artificial stone, and the top “attic” floor is “pieced together” from multiple glazed units that, in turn, rhyme with the chocolate seamed roof. The color of the fence also matches the color of the house: the color of the horizontal composite panels is very close to the shade of the roof, while the color inserts echo the two main colors of the facade finish. At the turn, the architects extenuated the fence to almost utter transparency – so the drivers speeding down the highway only see the narrow bright inserts which add to the beauty and attractiveness of the new complex.
Text by: Anna MartovitskayaLocation: Moscow, Russia Architect: Arhitekturium | Vladimir Bindeman Object: Residential building #27 in “Novogorsk Olympic Village” Object: The checkpoint and operation service building of “Novogorsk Olympic Village”