Shopping village, Moscow
MOSCOW (RU) - Project Meganom has built a surprisingly modest luxury village.
Directly west of the MKAD, the outer ring of Moscow, is an area of dachas known as Roublovka. Once a gently sloping forest, its proximity to the city centre attracted the attention of some very powerful people; both Vladimir Putin and his predecessor Boris Yeltsin built dachas here. Such people never come alone and so began an invasion: first the Kremlin top, followed in recent years by the 'oligarchs'. These ostentatiously wealthy young businessmen have quickly assimilated the lesson of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one-time head of Yukos: accumulating a fortune is fine, but never oppose Kremlin politics. Most of them take this principle very literally and tend to imitate the culture of power. The architectural style of power is the Kremlin itself: classicist buildings with a touch of 'Russian gingerbread' and pompous interior decoration. Slowly, however, a different approach is emerging and one of its most successful proponents is Project Meganom.
Yury Grigoryan and Alexandra Pavlova, two of the principal partners, state that their clients are driven by their personal desire for a wide range of elements such as light, atmosphere or materials. The designers often draw their inspiration directly from Russian nature and traditions. Grigoryan fulminates against the enormous developments in the Moscow region where there is a complete lack of overall planning and vision on the part of government. A good (or rather bad) example is the above-mentioned Roublovka, where the park-like character has been sacrificed to the megalomaniac dreams of the rich and powerful. Precisely in this area, Meganom won a commission for a luxury shopping mall plus hotel and theatre.
In looking for a design concept, they found a fitting reference in the traditional Russian village. Instead of a crooked village street leading to the village church, this shopping street connects the hotel with the theatre. The street is intended to offer a complete experience, from wellness treatment through luxurious hotel to the cultural offerings of the theatre, but shopping is of course the main goal. The reference to the old village extends to the scale and materialization of the shops. The long street facades are fragmented in order to differentiate the various shops. All the facades are clad with dark red Canadian cedar. Glass bridges connect the two sides of the street, allowing it to be crossed in all weathers.
Another interesting aspect is the landscape design. Unfortunately, with most projects in Russia the landscaping is still very much neglected and the profession as a whole is underdeveloped. Meganom approached Dutch landscapers West 8. They designed a pavement of black and white granite cobbles with a very strong graphic pattern – a free interpretation of ice on the Volga. The labour must have been enormous because every, mostly curved, line was cut on site. In addition, separate islands with flowerbeds and pine trees were placed in the street, which runs parallel to Roublovka Schosse, the main road to the city. The shop window facade opens up at several places towards small squares where the car dealers are situated. Whereas the street itself is just for pedestrians these squares can be reached by car using an asphalt side road. The way the border of the road meanders between the adjacent pine trees reflects an enthusiastic attention to detail.
At the east side, the street enters the foyer of the theatre, still under construction. The theatre is a simple black box surrounded by a screen of vertical wooden lamellas that vary in orientation and shape, giving rise to intriguing changes in perception as one moves around the theatre. The hall is suited to a wide range of performance arts, from chamber music to free fighting, though it will be mainly used for presentations of the latest luxury goods and for fashion shows. After all, the ambition of the whole development is very simple: getting rich by entertaining the rich.
January | 2007 | Russia | Barry van Waveren