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"Architectural Bulletin" magazine No. 3 (78), 2004


Constantin Savkin


Residential building I. Utkin and SKiP
Residential building in Bolshoy Levshinsky Lane, 9.
Designer - company "Sergey Kiselev and partners."
Team of authors:
architect I. Utkin, M. Chirkov,
with the participation of D. Nikolaeva, E. Peresvetova, V. Fenogenov;
Constructors: I. Schwartzman, A. Reent.
Developer: KV-Engineering.
General Contractor: CONIP (Zagreb).
Delivery and installation of granite:
CJSC Trading House MKK.
The beginning of design and construction - 2001


    Two parallel thoughts recently accompanied me in Florence. Firstly, for some reason, it seemed that modern Italians did not quite realize the significance of the surrounding ancient architecture. Their coexistence with the old city happens as if at a different pace of life - high-speed motorcycle movements simply do not allow people to notice the slow architectural grandeur. The second reflection was rather an obsession: it suddenly seemed that this whole city - not real - the scenery erected by the Medici family, who, having grown rich, felt great and generously funded the imitation of the great ancient Greek or Roman culture. But my own very short stay in this richly classical environment was reminiscent of an immersion in the warm, living sea, and I wanted to be here again 25-30 years ago, at the time of architectural students. And then, upon returning to Moscow, an almost nostalgic continuation of the Italian impressions unexpectedly was a walk to the intersection of the Bolshoy and Maly Levshinsky lanes, where the construction of an apartment building was completed according to the project of the moscow architect and professor of MArchi Ilya Utkin.
   Denezhny Lane - the main axis of perception of the object. If you go down it from the Arbat side, the new palazzo will begin to emerge from afar in the perspective of the surrounding buildings. Its growth will reach the upper limit when you catch up with the Italian embassy (historically due contiguity?), And then the prospect will be replaced by relations of the neighborhood, and you will have to compare it from below with the immediate environment. A high-rise building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is hiding behind the street facades to the right, hinting down at the well-known stylistic kinship - their own and other multi-apartment fellow-palaces of the socialist period. But this, of course, is a completely different Renaissance. Those very serious Moscow “palazzos” of the 1950s, in an effort to use the classical canon, seemed to go beyond the bounds of living architectural harmony. Their excessive growth, incomparable with the classical samples, often turned the order structure into flat, stretched screens. And sculptural casts from ancient analogues became special - inaccessible in space and time - fairy-tale elements. Another thing is neoclassicism at the beginning of the 20th century, which gave vent to feelings. He did not hide his decorativeness and, quoting the details, festively sewed a semblance of old decoration, in accordance with his (sometimes non-classical) figure and the worldview of his contemporaries - art lovers in architecture. Today is the beginning of the century again, and around are new contemporaries. The residential structure in the Levshinsky Lane involuntarily correlates with its structure and tiering of the structure to a number of buildings previously designed by the SKiP workshop (two of them are the article “At the Ring of Contexts”, AB, 2002, No. 5). The same stone-rusticated stylobate of the more massive first floor, the same continuous glazing behind the colonnades of the lung - the upper one, the same meaningful dialogues with the surroundings. He also stands in one of the lanes adjacent to the Moscow Ring and is also very individual, but in his own way. In contrast to the discrete objects thoughtfully complementing the environment presented by S. Skuratov, the new house of I. Utkin rather fills the urban space with its extended continuity. It is very thorough, whole and at the same time - more relaxed and picturesque than its recent predecessors, released under the same brand SKiP. And most importantly ~ its modern architecture seems to re-appeal to the classical canons, bypassing the layers of world (including Moscow) experience accumulated after the Italian Renaissance. This applies to the appropriate scale of the building (for example, almost traditional for Italian palazzo number of storeys or, at least, the height of the building), and applied art-plastic means.
    The house of I. Utkin took pride of place on a wide corner of the Bolshoy and Maly Levshinsky lanes, putting on display for the public a solid belly tightly covered with a brick camisole. However, the collar of his shirt is free, even unbuttoned, revealing the round neck of the penthouse, viewing from above the narrow perspectives of adjacent lanes. He is completely in solidarity with his closest neighbors, despite the overwhelming majesty. The rounded abdomen of one of them (Denezhny, 1, House of the Palace Department of the 18th-19th centuries) is an occasion for comparing the forms and scales. And the classical balusters on the constructivist skeleton of another (B. Levshinsky 9, "where a prominent figure in the Soviet state lived, the major organizer of construction N. A. Dygay") are just as deliberate and ocher as a series of mannered stamens-volut-brackets of a wide soaring cornice ( only I. Utkin could come up with such). Although, as we have already noted, at the time of creation, the house is much older than its neighbors. Say - from the Italian Renaissance of the late period - the 16th century, when the role of plastic decoration is strengthened and the connection with the urban environment becomes more noticeable. In the design of facades, this is almost the case, if not for subjective author’s interpretations, transferring the building to the category of modern paintings, architectural watercolors, and creative exercises. From the courtyard inner corner, protecting the southern side of the horizon, the house is not so closed in itself, unlike real palazzos. Here, its floors look like glazed galleries, such as in the upper penthouse floors, open to the courtyard and the street. That is, the classical courtyard of the palazzo, the compositional center of the building, surrounded by columns, is surrounded by the building as if half (on both sides' angle). True, the perimeter composition is symbolically supplemented by the adjacent buildings. The glazed courtyard colonnades of the Palazzo house do not hint at the availability of interiors, suggesting only inquisitive views from the outside. But at the level of the basement, the courtyard can still become a cozy classical center of the palace building. The project plans to turn it into a comfortable ancient environment with grottoes, shrubs, climbing greenery and pergolas. This secluded courtyard landscaping has a philosophical connection with the intimate (albeit public) filling of the basement floor - mosaic flooring, a pool, the colonnade surrounding it ... There, above, in the upper tiers there are already quite personal spaces of apartments. In them (or a little earlier - in a metal elevator), obviously, you will again have to feel like a different modern person - surrounded by a home theater, kitchen and bathroom, stuffed with electronics, other technical achievements of civilization.
    From the street it’s nice to look at the new house in cloudy, rainy weather, as it emits color heat. In general, he is filled with positive energy. And its lower floor, faced with light rusticated granite - according to the author, specially selected to match the old limestone. And the overlying floors, decorated with a special, almost piece, such a "tinted" red-yellow brick. Here, red and ocher merged so “nuances” that it seems that the authors manually painted, or rather, lovingly washed each facing brick with its smooth color transition to achieve the sophistication of this merger, such a long-awaited society in red-brick and ocher-stucco buildings. We can say that the manor buildings on the side of Kropotkinsky Lane, as well as the old oaks adjacent to them, expected just such a neighbor to comfortably sit at the foot of a picturesque wall. And it seems that it is for this reason that I. Utkin and his colleagues designed the front facade of the house with a dull background. From the very top, the "Athenian Acropolis" already tested in the SKiP houses looks at historical characters. Red and ocher are the colors of the environment, calm and balanced with its residential yards, grounds, benches, trees and ancient walls peeling off in some places. Here you can find the formal prototypes of a new object. At the entrance of one of the houses, recently abandoned by the design institute, there is at all a huge stone of a blackened capital, a secret sign and a harbinger of an architectural event. For the new "palazzo" this measured environment is very important, in which it was possible to settle down so picturesquely and independently.
   And yet, despite today's peace, the new building is the victorious house, which came not to obey (although not to subordinate). Behind his victory is not only the investment of impressive financial capital, materials and labor of builders. Here the creative credo of the architect is realized, here his creative, organizational efforts, the skill of colleagues and colleagues are invested. To solve urban issues, when in an effort to maintain the integrity of the volume, the dismembering requirements of the coordinating authorities were overcome (the experience of the head of the company, S. Kiselev, was indispensable here). And at the stage of linking functional solutions, when the formal logic of the customer was overpowered by the harmony of the proportional decision of the facades (it was necessary, for example, to carry out a life-size model and deliver the model of a classical window opening “home”, proving its expediency). In the process of constructive study of a rather complex scheme. And at the implementation stage, when millimeters of decorative design needed to be linked with centimeters of construction errors. There is a separate conversation and special care about the students in charge (seemingly too indifferent), witnesses or participants in the process. Perhaps the architect I. Utkin is far-sightedly right when he is so concerned about the future of his building at the design and construction stage. Including nuance changes in the shades of the artistic image, predicting and even planning the process of aging materials, their acquisition of patina, traces of time. Maybe he is glad that his building really looked like a gloomy winner, or as soon as possible left "for eternity", standing on a par with antique, classical buildings. As for our students, who are rapidly dissecting life on bicycles and skateboards, it’s probably worthwhile to “slow down” them with a strong-willed effort, at least temporarily immersing them in the classical architectural environment. Otherwise, they will want it themselves in 25-30 years. But who knows, maybe the trouble is not that our contemporaries do not notice the old architecture, but that the ancient "palazzo" do not see us (after all, we vainly flicker before their wise eyes). I. Utkin’s new home is today that rare opportunity to notice and feel each other - like living contemporaries. Like the Medici family or their contractors - architects, artists, builders of the Renaissance.


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