It’s been a few weeks since my first post and so I thought it would be nice to share one of the projects which was taking most of my time up!
The project was an open ideas competition to revitalise a forgotten monument in the heart of Moscow. The brief was to take the old cinema and not attempt to restore it to its past glory but rather bring it into the 21st century and create a new monument within Pushkin square.
First of all I’ll show our project titled ‘sculpting in time’ and then I will show the winners and some ‘honourable mentions’
Sculpting in Time
Mohsen Mekhail Najafian & Alvaro Serrano Lopez
Our approach to redesigning the facade of the Pushinsky cinema hall utilises the world of cinema itself as an intrinsic conceptual catalyst. Reflecting the theories of Russian Cinema in a metaphysical manner has been our design intent since the initial stages of design.
Thoroughly researching the rich history of cinematography in Russia, found us continually compelled by the dynamic theories of Andrei Tarkovsky. Following studies of his films Nostalghia and The Mirror we were predominantly inspired by his crafted and phenomenological scenes; absorbing the viewer, giving a heightened sense of time and space.
Tarkovsky’s approach to film demonstrates numerous concepts which intertwine relationships, emotions and dynamic imagery creating sensitively compelling cinema. Upon a comprehensive reading of his works we found his principal inspiration to be Aristotle’s Dramatic unities theory:
A concentrated action, happening in one place, within the span of a single day.
This theory, which Tarkovsky successfully utilised to guide his film The Mirror, focused our aspirations to emphasise this style of drama within the facade of the Pushkinsky theatre whilst taking into account its prominent position within Pushkin Square.
Redesigning the Pushkinsky cinema’s facade poses several architectural problems. The symbolic shape, strong geometry and its influence on Pushkin square make it an extremely challenging task for any designer. Following several attempts to re-design the original facade of the building, we discovered the risk of running into a Pastiche design or a parametrically based skin which we deemed unsuitable when taking into account the Cinema hall’s rich history and significant surrounding environment. Alternatively we decided it was important to allow the building to regain its iconic image and at the same time create a dynamic space within Pushkin square and a new landmark for Moscow’s skyline and Russian cinema.
Combining these ideas and effectively creating a theatrical cinematic experience within the square focused our ambitions. The new facade changes throughout the day and year giving users a dramatised sense of time and place. The combination of laminated glass with a DuPont SentryGlas interlayer and a fine gold aluminium mesh resolved the intention to create as transparent a surface as possible, whilst retaining the ability to reflect the surrounding context and abstract the Pushkinsky cinema hall. The SentryGlas interlayer makes for a smaller structure and excellent transparency, creating greater contrast throughout the times of day projected by the facade. To retain the buildings iconic shape and imagery we propose the ‘stripping back’ of the newer commercial additions thus revealing the once lost symbol of Russian cinema. In order to bring the hall up to modern standards we included a new insulating concrete screed on the lateral facades, new aluminium sandwich panels on the underside of the theatre and triple glazed Low E laminated glass with a SentryGlas interlayer on the original entrance. In addition, we feel the ‘fifth facade’ -the roof- should be utilised through a lightweight steel and glass stair; allowing for incredible views and the possibility of outdoor exhibitions and screenings.
During the day the facade acts as an abstracting screen, allowing for altered views through to the iconic shape of the Pushkinsky Cinema. The gold mesh creates a monochromatic glow within the building, flooding the foyer with gold light. Its fine nature also helps produce subtle abstractions from an external viewpoint whilst not being overpowering and out of context.
"When less than everything has been said about a subject, you can still think on further. The alternative is for the audience to be presented with a final deduction (…) no effort on their part. What can it mean to them when they have not shared with the author the misery and joy of bringing an image into being?"
As the sun sets over Moscow our aim was to convey Tarkovsky’s theory of time passing which we feel is achieved through strong reflections and the subtle changes as day passes to night. This explosion of colour and juxtaposition of context is printed on our facade changing the abstracted iconic shape by day into a mirroring wall, thus increasing the users’ perception of space.
“Juxtaposing a person with an environment that is boundless, collating him with a countless number of people passing by close to him and far away, relating a person to the whole world, that is the meaning of cinema.”
Each night the building transforms into a beacon of light within the square; projecting a lost iconic image as the new facade floats above the original plinth.
Sculpting in time _
Tarkovsky’s theory: cinema’s ability to alter ones experience of time.
He achieved this through long takes and limiting cuts within his films. All in an effort to convey a realistic sense of time passing and the relationship between several points in time.
First place: “frozen in time”
From the submission: “DuPont™ Corian® techno-surface has been used in the skin of the building within a innovative and poetic concept: hundreds of elements, each one made with a metallic structure and a sphere DuPont™ Corian®, become like stalactites in winter due to the low temperatures while in summer they diffuse water creating a mist that modify the external environment of the building, offering an even more fascinating atmosphere at night.”
For me this defies an entire entry in the brief stating “ The proposals must be technologically feasible, and reasonable enough.” But credit where credits due, its a very cinematographic image and a very interesting concept.
Second place : “Moving Light Palace”
From the submission by Reinbroth, Franziska Boettcher and Jenny Grossman: “The electroluminescent lightwires are coated with DuPont™ Teflon® to prevent them from tangling and enable smooth moving wires as DuPont™ Teflon® is a material with one of the lowest friction coefficient plus as DuPont™ Teflon® durability is higher than the outer sleeve of the lightwires being PVC. Electroluminescent technologies have a low power consumption compared to other lighting technologies. Transforming the energy from the moving wires with pietzocrystals provides the energy the lightwires consume while glowing. Their brightness appears the same from all angles of view, because electroluminescent light is not directional, as well as homogeneous and well perceived even from far distances. The copper-golden glass front is made of float glass with DuPont™ SentryGlas® interlayer and a sheet of metallic coated float glass. The gold coating with its high reflectance helps to retain warmth and can reduce heating costs by 40% while it is inexpensive to produce.”
My favourite of the 70 shortlisted projects. A simple and effective solution retaining the iconic shape and defining a contemporary, monumental entrance.
Third place: “The Pushkinsky Jewel”
From the submission of Joseph Sung: “DuPont™ SentryGlas® structural interlayers have been chosen, among others, due to their capability to protect against wind, weather and impact. By utilizing coated low-E glass, we increase the building overall energy efficiency – it can assist in engineering more effective thermal insulation and controlling the transmittance of UV radiation. DuPont™ SentryGlas®, offering long-term durability even when edges are exposed to weather and less susceptible to moisture intrusion, and remaining free from clouding even after years of service, makes our specification choice ideal.”
Very similar approach as ourselves, however they clearly have succeeded in conveying their intentions better. Oh and its roofed, and made entirely of glass? Its just as well Moscow doesn’t suffer from severe winters!
Some “honourable mentions”
"Portal" Sergey Prokofyev
nice images but for some reason it reminds me of something……
In second year we were tasked to produce a model to convey certain modernist styles, I got given Russian constructivism. This is my 2 hour model of what Russian constructivism meant to me. Then again he could have been inspired by this.
Heres one the boys at sketchup made earlier…..
"Cultural monument" Alexey Sabirullov
The homeless of Moscow even banded together and congrats to them they got a shortlisting…
“Kyoto - protection - box” Nico Heysse
What maybe first conceived as a bitter rant at people who have succeeded over myself. I am intending to demonstrate how superficial and intangible the Architecture world can be sometimes. I have always been encouraged to be realistic and think in ‘real world’ terms. However this 21st century post-post modernism seems to be appearing continually and not just in ideas competitions which is in danger of hacking at the already fragile core of the architectural profession. It seems that designers are becoming more inclined to create buildings which have little more to offer than being different.
Your thoughts and questions would be most appreciated…