Competition Initiated by The Morton Group, Russia, Contemporary Russian Architecture
Russian Character international Competition
Contemporary Russian Architecture Winners – design by Megabudka
3 Jun 2014
Russian Character international Competition Winner
The jury decided almost unanimously on the “Dacha in a Dvor” proposal by Megabudka
A winner has been chosen for the “Russian Character” international architecture competition, which was initiated by the Morton Group in order to develop a conceptual framework for a Russian Culture & Education Center in the new Butovo Park residential district.
The competition organizer is the Morton Group, the curator is architect Ilya Mukosey, and the coordinator is the Rules of Communication Agency.
The jury decided almost unanimously on the “Dacha in a Dvor” proposal by Megabudka. All projects were submitted anonymously to ensure a fair and impartial decision.
In the initial open round of the competition, participants were asked to send three documents: a portfolio, a set of their associations regarding “modern Russian architecture,” and an explanatory letter.
Megabudka wrote: “We fiercely want to carry out this project! For this to happen, we understand that our submission has to be the best — featured in journals worldwide and showing that quality architecture with unique style exists in Russia today! We have to express this style specifically for the Culture & Education Center.”
Not a bad set of objectives for these young participants competing with masters from Russia and around the world. Entries were exceptionally strong, arriving from 96 applicants and 27 countries that included Germany, Great Britain, Italy, France, Finland, Switzerland, Slovenia, Portugal and Spain. The council of experts selected 15 entries to proceed to the second round, 12 of which made it to the finish — 8 from Russia and 4 from abroad. The Russian participants were Totan Kuzambaev Studio, A-B Studio, Mossine and Partners, TAF Studio, MEL, Pole Design, Alexey Kozyr Studio and Megabudka. The international participants in the second round were OFIS (Slovenia), ALA Architects (Finland), ENOTA+Arhimetrics (Slovenia), and Kubota&Bachmann (Switzerland).
How did Megabudka win over the jury? Here is how the creators of “Dacha in a Dvor” explained their project idea: “The concept of ‘dacha’ is very close to the Russian people, and one of the most definitive architectural-topological forms in Russia today. The first dachas appeared during the reign of Peter the Great, acquiring broader social significance in the Soviet era and remaining extremely important today. As a distinctly national concept, dacha is not translated when referenced in other languages, similar to cultural icons like matryoshka, samovar, babushka and borsch. The dacha’s flexibility in adapting to any rigid framework or allocated plot — thus expressing its own identity — is deeply symbolic of the Russian character. Demand for dachas is enormous in major cities, but lack of time along with traffic jams en route to and from the countryside reduce their accessibility.” The word “dvor” also has a unique Russian character, meaning courtyard or other form of yard adjacent to a residential building. It is a place shared by the building’s residents, an intermediary between the public space of streets and the private space of individual homes or apartments.
Not a single member of the jury remained indifferent to Megabudka’s submission. Six of eight gave “Dacha in the Dvor” first place without reservations. City of Moscow Chief Architect Sergey Kuznetsov mentioned its versatility and potential multifunctionality, and that the project remains distinctive regardless of the plot where it occupies. He recalled that the Russian Education & Cultural Center in Butovo Park is a pilot project that the Morton Group plans to implement in other new housing developments, adding that although the present terms of reference are very clear, selecting a project capable of future adaptation was an unanticipated bonus.
Architect Alexander Skokan noted the structural flexibility of the project as its main advantage. Felix Razumovsky, historian and host of the television program “Who Are We?” felt that it was the only submission that fulfilled the competition objective of reflecting a distinctive image of 21st-century Russia. He also explained that the absence of rigid planning specifications allows “Dacha” to fit into any landscape. In addition, use of wood as the primary construction material makes the project vibrant and engaging. Architect and publisher Bart Goldhoorn — the curator of ARCH Moscow — and art historian Anna Bronovitskaya preferred other projects. Goldhoorn drew attention to the complexity of maintaining Megabudka’s proposed structures, and remarked that the many fences could become problematic. Bronovitskaya expressed concern that the project would be especially prone to vandalism. Yet other jury members suggested that this might be positive and natural for the wooden structures, evoking contemporary dachas outside the city. Architect Eugene Asse, who selected Megabudka’s submission, proposed changing the name to “Russian Village” to emphasize its correspondence with the competition theme. He also found that the project offered opportunities for diverse combinations of elements, as well as different interpretations of their significance.
Architect Alexander Asadov explained his impression of the project in detail: “The touching and humane nature of this project is especially captivating for me. Its complex arrangement of simple and traditional elements gives a sense of ‘historic layers,’ a sense that many generations of people lived and worked on this land, which is rarely felt in new residential developments. The project’s spontaneous composition, made up of separate blocks, connected galleries, allows for easily changing the functions and dimensions of each element. This should prove useful for detailed planning, construction and — most importantly — use of the community center. The concept is ‘living’ in the sense that its evolution may proceed in phases, launching the first with minimal delay … I recommend somewhat decreasing the number of project elements while increasing their dimensions. This proposal is highly deserving of first place and future realization. It creatively embodies the notion of ‘Russian authenticity’ in architecture.”
Alexander Ruchev, president of the Morton Group, found the idea both fresh and applicable in a variety of contexts. The jury particularly valued its capacity for execution at larger scales without becoming monotonous.
Alexander Ruchev announced that the Morton Group plans to realize the winning project with an estimated investment of 180 million rubles. He also mentioned that the projects submitted by Totan Kuzembaev Studio and MEL earned praise from the jury and will be proposed for implementation in other districts.
The Russian Culture & Education Center will be the main gathering place for residents of the Butovo Park residential district, which is currently under construction by the Morton Group. It will contain up to 70 sections, including facilities for theater, visual arts, creative workshops, regional studies and athletics. Special attention will be given to promoting and perpetuating Russian cultural traditions.
The Butovo Park residential area is part of the Morton Group’s large-scale integrated development of the Leninsky District in Moscow Oblast, between the Varshavsky and Simferopolsky highways. The total area is 250 hectares, of which over 80 are dedicated to a landscaped forest-park. Approximately 80 percent of the territory will be open for public use, and 20 percent will residential. Over 1.5 million square meters of housing will be accompanied by infrastructure that brings the area of new development above 2 million square meters.
Information about the Competition
The “Russian Character” international architecture competition started on 15 February 2014 and proceeded in two rounds.
In the first round, 96 applications were submitted by contestants from 27 different countries. The council of experts selected 15 applicants for participation in the second round. Of this group, 12 made it to the finish: 8 from Russia and 4 from other countries.
The professional jury’s meeting to select a winner took place on 27 May.
This jury consisted of:
Alexander Asadov, corresponding member of the International Academy of Architecture, advisory member of the Russian Academy of Architecture and Building Sciences, director of Asadov Architectural Studio;
Eugene Asse, architect, artist, founder and rector of the MARCH Architecture School;
Anna Bronovitskaya, specialist in architecture and urban planning of the Soviet era, professor at the Moscow Architectural Institute (MArchI), Ph.D. in art history;
Bart Goldhoorn, curator of the Moscow Architectural Biennale and the ARCH Moscow Exhibition, architect, architectural critic, founder and publisher of the journals PROJECT Russia, PROJECT Baltia and PROJECT International;
Sergey Kuznetsov, chief architect for the City of Moscow;
Felix Razumovsky, historian, writer, broadcaster, member of the International Union of Journalists, author and host of the documentary series “Who Are We?” on the Culture Channel;
Alexander Ruchev, president of the Morton Group;
Alexander Skokan, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Architecture and Building Sciences, director of Ostozhenka Architectural Studio.
The council of experts included:
Nikita Asadov, architect, co-curator of the “Russian Identity” exhibition;
Ekaterina Artemeva, managing director of the Rules of Communication Agency and project coordinator for the competition;
Alexander Bogdanov, chief architect at the Morton Group Architectural Bureau;
Anna Bronovitskaya, specialist in architecture and urban planning of the Soviet period, secretary of DOCOMOMO Russia, candidate of sciences in architectural history, docent at the Moscow Architectural Institute;
Nikolai Vasilev, architectural historian, expert on constructivism;
Elena Gonzalez, architecture critic and curator;
Julia Zinkevich, general director of the Rules of Communication Agency and project coordinator for the competition;
Dmitry Zotov, general director of the Morton Development Center;
Elena Lebedeva, art historian, journalist, curator of the “Laboratories of Museum Design” project, invited expert at the Center of Cultural Initiatives for New Moscow;
Ilya Mukosey, architect, curator of the “Russian Character” competition;
Sergei Merzhanov, expert on Russian Revival architecture, architectural historian;
Evgenia Murinets, Head of the Architectural Council of the City of Moscow Architecture and Planning Committee;
Sergei Nikitin, specialist in Moscow history and cultural studies, professor of urbanism at the Higher School of Economics, experienced organizer of mass cultural events (Velonotte and others);
Nikolai Prianishnikov, Director of Research at the ZIL Cultural Center;
Elena Sarkisov, Head of the Cultural Directorate for Moscow’s Southwest Administrative District;
Margarita Chizhmak, Fellow of the Tretyakov Gallery, art historian.
ENOTA+Arhimetrics, a tandem studio from Slovenia, won the public online vote carried out as part of the ARCH Moscow 2014 exhibition. They will receive an alternative prize as a result.
The competition framework included an educational component that offered excursions (on Constructivist, Russian Revival and Russian Moderne architecture), an exposition at ARCH Moscow 2014 (which also contained historical material), creation of the Facebook group “Architecture with Russian Character” (which featured striking examples of uniquely Russian architecture), and a conference on the competition theme (to be held in June).
Russian Character international Competition Winner information from the Competition Organisers
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