The new residential complex is located within the historic ‘Garden Ring’ in Moscow, to the south east of the Kremlin, facing the New Tretjakov Gallery, and the Moscow River. The intrinsic qualities of the site and the historic and cultural associations have been influential to the volumetric composition of the project, as well as a desire not to emulate the ’slab’ typology typical of Moscow housing. The apartments are accommodated within five slender towers on a 2 to 4 storey base containing additional programme such as leisure facilities, art galleries, restaurants, commercial spaces and internal parking. The positioning of the towers is determined by the orientation and views of each individual apartment, whilst maintaining some critical vistas between the historic centre of the city across the river and the bell tower of the church. The fragmentation of the mass, as expressed by the irregularity of the towers, is continued into the base by the insertion of asymmetrical semi public spaces and patios. By proposing a redevelopment of the sculpture garden of the Tretjakov Gallery opposite, a spatial and thematic relationship will be established between the scheme and the park.
The New Tretjakov Gallery contains one of the world’s most important collections of paintings from the Russian Avant Garde movement of the early 20th century, with each of the five towers referring to a painting by an artist from that period; Wassily Kandinsky: Yellow-Red-Blue (1925), Alexander Rodchenko: Linear Construction (1919), Liubov Popova: Painterly Architectonic with Three Stripes (1916), Kazimir Malevich: White on White (1918), Alexandra Exter: Sketch for Costume of Salome (1921). As part of the design development extensive studies were produced to understand the intrinsic compositional structure of each painting and to discover an appropriate interpretation and scale for implementing them. The aim was to generate a structural and spatial three dimensional composition from the paintings and not merely a façade treatment. In this way the different elements of the façade contribute to the unique quality of the interior of the individual apartments.
In the Rodchenko tower for example, a layering of continuous glass skins generates a transparent depth that represents the artist’s intended fluidity of space in the paintings. The Malevich tower uses subtlety in the detailing to create an intriguing yet homogenous façade design. Through the discovery of the detail and the gradual alterations in materialisation and transparency, the beauty of the building is revealed. The ‘Salome’ costume design by Alexandra Exter informs the concept of ‘folding’. The diverging pleats in the façade and the distortion in the volume of the building generate a dynamic architecture that appears to move when viewed from different angles. When viewed from within the apartments the changing perspectives continuously transform the views of the city. In a similar way to the artist’s working method the design of Popova’s tower utilises a series of tools to represent the ambiguity between space and depth creating a three dimensional form composed of two dimensional objects. The proposed façade design for the Kandinsky tower utilises a similar method by taking the details of a two dimensional painting into a three dimensional building volume. This architectural interpretation of the spatiality and depth in Kandinsky’s painting creates a building design composed of several layers.