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​Herzog & de Meuron to transform derelict Moscow brewery into ‘floating horizontal skyscrapers’

Swiss architects will raise apartments 35 meters off the ground and create urban park beneath.

Image: Herzog & de Meuron

Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron has unveiled ambitious plans to develop the abandoned Badaevskiy Brewery on Moscow’s Taras Shevchenko Embankment near one of the famous Seven Sisters high-rises, Hotel Ukraina. The industrial complex sits on a six-hectare plot that will be transformed into 100,000 sq m of apartments, offices, and shops. Over 30,000 sq m of the original buildings will be restored in the process. The project is the first in central Moscow for Herzog & de Meuron, who designed London’s Tate Modern and scooped the Pritzker Prize in 2001 – architecture’s highest honor.
The blueprints for the new “horizontal skyscrapers” are unique because the structures will “float” 35 meters in the air on metal legs, reminiscent of El Lissitzky’s 1924 “Wolkenbügel” (“cloud irons”). The Russian avant-garde artist/architect’s sketches show raised platforms supported by sturdy pillars of radial steel and glass – metro stations and bus stops occupy the ground space beneath. However, the designers wanted to avoid serious comparisons with Lissitzky’s iconic imaginings so Badaevskiy Brewery’s renovation will be more refined, sitting on willowy supports. “The stilts connect the buildings with the ground and the park like trunks of trees” the brief reads.
“Lissitzky's design is a cliché of the heroic phase of constructivism...it feels like an unfulfilled yearning of the worldwide architectural community for an ideal new society detached from the dirty reality of the earthly grounds of the city,” Jacques Herzog told Strelka Magazine. “On the other hand we think that the very potential of the contemporary city is the ‘ground’ which we all share as a public and is accessible as far as possible. Our project for the Badaevskiy Brewery site is enhancing that very intention: the new building is lifted from the ground in order to make space for others, for all kinds of people from in and around Moscow. For people wanting to stroll around and enjoy the new green park land and river sides – at the same time the new building remains connected to that same ground of the city by means of stairs, lifts and stilts like an elevated lodge in the forest. The architectural expression of that levitating act is non heroic, anti-monumental whereas Lissitzky intended to demonstrate his ideology and his vision of a new world. Now, March 2018, is definitely not the moment for such a statement." 
The top floor flats will have panoramic views over the brewery, Kutuzovskiy Prospekt, Hotel Ukraina, the State Duma, the City, and beyond.

Image: Herzog & de Meuron

Moscow already has several “floating” structures like the House of Aviators (1978), “House on Chicken Legs” (1968), and Bolshaya Tulskaya Complex (1986) – but only dead concrete space exists below these buildings, which are nowhere near 35 meters off the ground. The Swiss architects will utilize former industrial halls and cupolas, production rooms, silos, and the neo-gothic water tower while also creating a traditional banya and arts center.
“We found it extraordinary and especially appealing to use the opportunity to push such a radically different urbanistic approach in a city which has traditionally preferred tabula rasa concepts, in the Soviet as well as the post-Soviet periods, as so perfectly demonstrated by the nearby examples of the 206-meter high Ukraina Hotel (one of the iconic Moscow Seven Sisters high-rises), the Kutuzovskiy neoclassical blocks, and the more recent 350-meter high Moscow City.”
Herzog & de Meuron also designed Skolkovo University District to the west of the Russian capital – a private, government-backed initiative. The project is a two-phase development of the university building and the creation of a residential area for students and professors. 

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