In search of a design code: Archcouncil meeting on August 20, 2014
The aspiration of the majority of Archcouncil members to discuss not only specific projects, but also strategic aspects of urban policy has finally come true. At the August meeting of the Architectural Council — exactly two years after Sergey Kuznetsov was appointed the Chief Architect of Moscow — for the first time systematic solutions to architectural problems were included at the meeting.
The first speaker was Vladimir Plotkin (APB Reserve) — one of the active members of the Architectural Council who regularly find themselves in the role of the “defendants.” The project for the parking and office complex with a restaurant made it into the agenda not only because the area under construction is on Krasnopresnenskaya embankment, located in the Central District and adjacent to the White House itself, but primarily due to its location right next to the Moscow River.
Chairman of the Council Sergey Kuznetsov reminded the audience that recently a very important for the city competition for the development of riverside areas was launched, and on the example of the project by Vladimir Plotkin’s bureau, it would be useful to discuss what in this aspect is worthwhile to pay attention to when working with a similar context (the Krasnopresnenskaya embankment ensemble on this spot was developed in the 50s of the last century).
The context indeed created a number of limitations: because the existing buildings recede from the red lines, and so the architects of APB Reserve had to recede as well. All the more so because in the project a significant part of the parking spaces (parking function intended to replace the existing parking lot on this site) is concentrated in the underground part, and for this arrangement it is necessary to provide a distance of 3 m from the gravity sewers from the promenade side and a buffer zone with a width of 2 m along Nikolaev Street — due to the general sewer located there. Thus, the approximately 898 square meter building footprint on the site took up only part of the plot.
Additionally not all height resources specified in the Development and Construction Plan were used up: instead of 50 m — a total of 30 m, although the “insolation hill” allowed it to rise to the level of 39 m.
According to Vladimir Plotkin, as the projected building due to limitations could not completely fill with itself the “cavity” of buildings in this place, so it took the role of a sort of hinge — a stepped structure, decreasing towards the apartment building in the second line of Krasnopresnenskaya embankment.
The lower section of the facades correlates with the stylobate lower part of the neighboring buildings, and to overlap with its rusticated plinth, on the first floor of the projected complex a horizontal carved rust with a quickening rhythm is planned.
It is this version of the facades — in a bright natural stone — of the seven proposed, that the authors identified as the primary choice. There were no objections from the Council in this regard, although the chief architect of the Institute of the General Plan of Moscow Andrei Gnezdilov expressed regret that the parking lot with windows on all floors appears more like a residential building, or at the very least, an administrative building.
He was supported by Yuri Grigoryan, architect of the bureau Project Meganom, noting that the complex could have looked more paradoxical and demonstrated both functions — office and parking. Although, according to Plotkin, the parking component was deliberately not stressed, and Sergey Kuznetsov said that on the first line of the building this is not encouraged.
However, a much greater frustration for Grigoryan was the fact that empty spaces in the city are filled with “as much as it is possible, but not as much as you need.” In his view, the ensemble of buildings in this place is well formed, and if to fill the established niche, than it should be with “something with more weight.” Especially if we are talking about the “river facade” on the waterfront side.
The architect suggested raising the building by at least one floor, and with him fully agreed the president of the Union of Moscow Architects Nikolai Shumakov. As an alternative, Sergey Kuznetsov recommended to think about adding a technical floor.
At the moment, the technical elements are also present on the roof, but fragmentarily. In this regard, the former chief architect of Berlin Hans Shtimmann drew attention to the fact that the roof could be planted with greenery, or at least landscaped, and chairman Sergey Kuznetsov asked to certainly add this point to the record.
Another observation by Shtimmann applied to the bridge-gallery that emerged in one of the sketches: since the site is owned by “IFD Kapital,” the office of which is in the neighboring tower, the authors just in case examined one variant of combining both complexes. However, from the point of view of Shtimmann, there are no and cannot be any “connecters” here.
With regard to the landscaping of the adjacent areas, the designers even slightly exceeded the plan — they went beyond the boundary of the site, providing landscaping to the line along the embankment, as well as establishing an open terrace in front of the entrance, and landscape design to the area near the apartment building.
The customer’s representative confirmed firm intention to implement this project, and representatives of the Office of Urban Management of the Central District expressed their willingness to discuss it by all means. Sergey Kuznetsov noted that due to the systematic order of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, investors are now obliged to perform landscaping, and the project by APB Reserve is a perfect example of how to do it.
In general, based on the comments, the project was approved.
To be continued...