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Article in "Project Classic" magazine No. XIV-MMV


Vladimir Sedov


"White House" in Zhukovka by "Utkin Studio"
Architects: Ilya Utkin, Daria Nikolaeva, Ekaterina Peresvetova, Valery Fenogenov
Designer: Alexey Reent
Sculptor: Alexey Storozhev
Design and construction: 2002-2004


    Here the genre definition is of fundamental importance. Because the new house, built by the architect Ilya Utkin in the Moscow region, in the Rublevo-Uspensky highway area, is at first difficult to fit into any framework. This is definitely not a castle (it is not enough for a castle, and it is not stylistically suitable), but it is not a manor house (the manner is not a manor house, the estate is not enough, the park is too intimate). This is not a suburban house-casket for entertainment, not a foul (if only because the architecture is serious, not playful), but certainly not a cottage - simply because country latitude and variegation are not provided here, and the verandahs and terraces are not designed .
   Then what is it? The neoclassical city mansion of a successful business man transferred to the city in the spirit of the beginning of the 20th century? - No, not that, this house is not so glossy and stylistically impeccable.
Frank Wright's “house of prairies” migrated to the Central Russian Upland? - No, there are almost no direct references to Wright, this is not an equalization with the American version of Art Deco.
  This can only be called a villa, only this strictness of the forms of the main and one of the garden facades correlates with the villa, on the adjacent facades it is slightly weakening and turns into friendliness. Only a villa can stand so calmly in a small piece of landscape and speak frankly about its function - to be a country hideaway along with a friendly haven, to be an additional and desirable house, contrasting with a city house (which in Moscow now is completely absent, except for townhouses, so contrast with the apartment, with the staircase, with the whole apartment building somewhere in the center or even in the sleeping area).
   The villa has a very ancient history, it dates back to Hellenistic and ancient Roman times, when the suburban estates of the nobility arose both in the suburbs (they served for solitude and entertainment), and in more distant areas (and then they served agricultural purposes). Then these villas were either destroyed by barbarians, or turned (in France, for example) into fortified castles. Then the villas were revived according to written sources in the Renaissance Florence, then their type was honed throughout the Renaissance and later, in Baroque times. Then, having studied the archaeological evidence regarding Roman villas, the villas once again revived already in the eclectic era, and throughout the entire European space - from England to Munich and from Potsdam to Peterhof. So now the villa is something very meaningful, having many appearances, but still recognizable. At least apophatically, through negation - not a cottage, not a hacienda, not a bungalow, etc.
   It seems that in this case, at first there was a type definition, and then searches for the architectural equivalent of this definition. The architect seemed to be looking for the image of a modern suburban villa. This image consisted of a number of denials (if not a manor - then without the inevitable autocratic portico, if not a bungalow - then without a canary coloring, if not a cottage - then without colored glass), but also, on the other hand, from the selection and collection of details, which should have been formed into a holistic formula of the villa.
   As a result, a house appeared in which the freedom of spatial construction is adjacent to a clear symmetry on three of the four facades. This “free” look is associated with both an abstract Roman villa and “all-façade”, a hallmark of country houses and urban mansions of the eclectic and modern era. This means that already at the level of the first compositional impression, the viewer perceives as the main two combined principles: a fairly strict order, subordination and organization of the facades, on the one hand, as well as freedom of plan and freedom of volumetric comparisons - on the other. The architect, it seems, was looking for an image in the classical range of forms and means, but he keenly felt the need to transfer not only and not so much the timeless, hierarchical, subordinate and dissolving order tradition, but the sense of modernity, current, this-world life that takes place in the house and around him now, the life for which this house is intended.
   In addition to the free composition, which is perceived as a “now” sign, the same designations of our time include the external almost simple minimalist processing of the pool, which acts as a special volume on one of the side facades (but the pool, like the telephone, is a relatively modern invention), windows located one above the other on the same side facade, as well as the very combination of stone, monumental and emphasized “eternal” forms of facades and wooden parts in the upper parts, which seem to hint at or something that country, or something Baltic-German-Scandinavian, or even Wright.
   It should be noted right away that the same wooden “accent” is present in the interior design (in the stairs, in the hall upstairs under the wooden “arch”, in bookcases), which are also made according to the author's drawings. These semi-finished forms coexist with luxurious anti-coking fireplaces - just like the muffed pylons on the facades coexist with wooden cornices and the grill of one of the gables. On this acute combination of the classic language and the “modernizing” accent, the main vocabulary of the Utkin villa is built.
   Modern time has found in Art Deco a certain equivalent of modernity, saw related features in the “modernized” classic, in sharp antique-technical combinations, in the most formidable grandeur and at the same time the fragility of the interwar bourgeois style. The fashion for this style is in full swing, and it manifests itself both in literal quotation or quite complete stylization, as well as in individual hints. The wooden details of Utkin in his villa, in our opinion, are only hints that allow an attentive visitor to dig into the memory and find hidden “addresses” in it: both named Baltic or Wright, and, for example, antique - in the form of reconstructions of antique rural villas in architectural or archaeological works. Directly Art Deco motifs reproduce only the metallic completion of the entrance gate.
   Indications of "modernity" in the architecture of this villa are an addition, a digression, the main theme here is still classic. But it also sounds somehow special, not in line with the artistic reconstruction of some bygone style and not in line with the academic stylization of some conventional classics, but as yet another experience in creating your own style, your own version of the classics. This classic (neoclassic) is not internally contradictory, it does not argue with modern forms (it is friendly with them or is somewhat neutral) and does not obey them. She is quite free to use the canon, has an associative layer that allows her to “remember” some foggy or direct prototypes, but not the whole context or the whole iconography. This classic is very emotionally rich and capable of conveying a variety of moods.
  Highly lowered angles are emphasized by the high and protruding risalits of the three facades. The rectangular windows of these lowered parts are emphasized only by unusual rusticated sandriks. The theme of rust, rough, rough, rough masonry, which begins here, continues in all three porticoes facing the risalits. On the entrance side, the portico is “built” of four pylons equipped with rusticated couplings. It does not have a pediment; here the beveled hip of the roof and the wooden structures that visually support it remind of Art Deco most of all.
    The “rough” rust theme continues in the side portico, which is the main one for the garden - from it the axis of the alley is directed to a round arbor with columns. This portico has the same pylons, the same balcony crossing the pylons at about mid-height, but due to the triangular pediment, the field of which is not sewn up, but barely marked by wooden rods, it seems to be higher, more slender and more serious. And finally, the third portico, on the back of the house, consists of shortened pylons, which only carry a balcony, but do not extend higher, but only end with a slightly playful balustrade and figured vases. With this portico, a fountain attached to the fence and located opposite the fountain, or nympha, from rough rusticated stones is one of the most Roman and at the same time manor ventures in this villa, reminiscent of the works of Nikolai Lvov.
The title of this article arose by analogy with the name of a Hellenistic villa of the 4th century BC, which French archaeologists unearthed in the Greek city of Olinth in the 1930s, just in the era of Art Deco. This villa, according to the plot of the mosaic of the floor found in it, was called the Villa of Good Fate. The architecture of this villa has become a kind of standard of the Hellenistic villa, a villa of pre-Roman times. The villa created by Utkin for the village near Moscow can be called the Villa of the New Destiny.
    Firstly, this is the result of the desire to create a certain image of the villa, a certain architectural equivalent to the new lifestyle of the owners. Secondly, such an architecture is undoubtedly capable of organizing not only space, but also life, and therefore play a significant role in the fate of the owners. And thirdly, this architecture in its very order language with an admixture of modern dialect speaks of the fate of a new, unknown, which will take shape at the crossroads of tradition and new ways. Villa of the New Destiny turns out.


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