Russia Architecture

By | February 23, 2022

Recent history has profoundly marked the architecture of the country; Moscow, its largest metropolis, was the first to be drastically transformed. The aim of bringing the nation, in general, and its main cities to the levels reached by the major world powers, has found in architecture one of the most effective tools for cultural and social renewal. Russian neo-capitalism was certainly primarily responsible for the enormous growth of the real estate sector; but the new buildings built in recent years, in the absence of coherent development plans, appear mostly inspired by spontaneous forms of pseudo-historicist eclecticism. New types of luxury buildings, previously rejected by ideology, have begun to characterize the major Russian cities: in the tourism sector (hotels, restaurants, spas, night clubs, casinos, etc.); in the office sector (bank offices); in the residential field (private houses, the first in almost a century).

The country has faced two challenges today: environmental sustainability, conceived not only with the aim of reducing polluting emissions, but as a background that characterizes the entire project activity, especially on an urban scale; the recovery and, sometimes, the reconstruction of the historic buildings of the imperial period. An emblematic example is the redevelopment of the extensive and extraordinary historic center of St. Petersburg (2003-11), largely completed on the occasion of the third centenary of the city’s foundation, as well as the subject of considerable media attention in coincidence with the G8 of the 2006: the works still continue,

On the front of contemporary architecture, many of the leading European architects have been involved, from Norman Foster to Dominique Perrault to Zaha Hadid, who have been commissioned to great projects which unfortunately, in most cases, have not been realized. A completed example, at least in large part, is instead constituted by the MIBC (Moscow International Business Center), the so-called Crystal Island: colossal and imposing building complex originally designed by Foster. The challenging intervention, also known as Moscow City, located along the banks of a deep bend in the Moskva River just 4 km from the Kremlin, included 15 skyscrapers intended to house offices, homes, hotels and commercial spaces concentrated in a real new city, reachable by a new section of the subway and connected to the two international airports by high-speed surface railway lines. Divided into several lots, the masterplan it was developed in 1992; delivery was scheduled for 2007. The first completed building was Tower 2000 in 2001; the authorities plan to complete the remaining lots for 2018. The project includes: the North Tower, built by the Austrian company Strabag SE, completed in 2007; the three buildings with the single base of the Naberezhnaja Towers, by the RTKL & ENKA studio, completed in 2007; the complex called City of Capitals, which represents, with its two main buildings, the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, by the NBBJ studio, completed in 2009; the Torre Imperia, again by NBBJ, finished in 2011; the Torre Città Mercurio, delivered in 2013, by architects Mikhail M. Posokhin, Frank Williams and Gennadiy Lvovich Sirota; the Evolution Tower of the RMJM studio, completed in 2014; the two Federaciya towers: Vostok (East) and Zapad (West), designed by Sergei Tchoban and Peter Schweger, completed in 2014; the Eurasia Tower by the US firm Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, inaugurated in 2014; a large central volume, from which the new metro lines branch off, completed in 2014. Other building complexes, which are part of this vast project, are still under development.

The architectural results achieved by the ambitious sports and tourist complexes built in Sochi on the occasion of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games were disappointing. Some interesting experiments were instead carried out in the new towns: Akademia City, for example, under construction in starting from 2007 on a project by Renova StroyGroup, it is considered among the most energy efficient cities in the world thanks to a smart grid developed in collaboration with multinationals such as Siemens and BASF, however following the discussed model of the gated community, in this case extended to the entire city. Skolkovo, the future Russian Silicon Valley, since 2009 has also seen many well-known personalities of the contemporary architectural scene at work, from David Chipperfield to the Japanese studio SANAA to Herzog & de Meuron: the ambitious project was presented, among other things, with success at the 2012 Venice Biennale, where it was awarded a special mention. Among the numerous achievements inside, the School of Management, the work of Adjaye Associates, in 2010, and the Research and Innovation Center of the Moscow architect Boris Bernaskoni, in 2012, are worthy of note.

Russia Architecture