House 20, Moscow
House 20 re-defines the “New Russian Villa` as a sophisticated but pragmatic dwelling place, providing spaces and facilities for living and entertainment, whilst avoiding the use of decorative elements or traditional references. The site, in the north-west suburbs of Moscow, was previously a partially forested area. The design process was motivated by the protection and integration of the existing pine trees into the new landscape. The house was carefully positioned so that each part interacts with its surroundings in a particular way, according to its function. In response to the functional requirements of the brief and desire to maximize views and light, the house has been planned as an irregular cross-shape, affording each of the main spaces natural light from at least two sides. This form enables a reduction in the scale and mass of the house, as it becomes a cluster of four distinct rectangular volumes. To complement this idea, these volumes are clad alternately with white limestone and red cedar planks, with areas of glazing or windows to suit internal function. The external cladding materials (white limestone slabs and red cedar planks) have been selected as a sensitive approach to the natural location and climatic conditions. The colour of the planks was chosen carefully to match the bark on the pine trees, thus echoing the habitat in the building itself. The changing lighting conditions – a low winter sun, snow covered ground, a grey autumn sky, and the shadows that go with them have been carefully considered in the design of the volumes. The entrance façade is enlivened by a two storey glazed volume, made up of large transparent panes with occasional red and yellow inserts – an allusion to 1920s Constructivism. An external granite stair leads to the main door, giving access into a double-height hall space positioned at the very centre of the plan. This simple vertical space is filled with natural light from a large glazed area in the roof above. From here all parts of the house can be accessed and seen, each is characterized by its unique orientation and relationship to the landscape. Natural light is a crucial element in the swimming pool, where full length glazing wraps around the south and west facades, giving uninterrupted views of the terraces and garden. The pool opens onto a series of wood and stone terraces, which overlook a central lawn dissected by a linear pond and a water feature. The new and existing landscape juxtaposed with the material and spacial qualities of the house bring the user a heightened sensory experience. House 20 was completed for occupation in July 2008.


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