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Design and architecture firm Megabudka: Bureau of Architecture has completed the Hospitality Center in Kudykina Gora Park in Russia, its geometric and strict facades dressed in black ebony - the colour of board scorched under the sun - the true colour of Russian wooden architecture according to the architects. The project strives to combat the prevailing lack of identity of modern architecture in the country - “Russian architects often imitate contemporary colleagues from other countries. As a result, national identity is completely absent in the newly created environment,” shares Megabudka, who carried out extensive research to develop and arrive at the “New Russian” style that underscores the building’s essence.
The volume and assured stance of the 3,500 sqm building is able to retain its strapping aesthetic, across seasons and changing landscapes. In summers, the dusky form merges with the line of trees from the surrounding forests, and when it gets colder, the building stands striking against the pure white snow, like a thick black stroke on an ivory canvas.
The new style was arrived at not artificially, but based sturdy upon rethinking the cultural and value aspects inherent in the prevalent Russian architecture and mentality. “The approach was developed with the participation of a number of modern designers and architects, systematised and turned into a determinant of Russian design. The device helps not to go beyond the flexible interpretation of a combination of two concepts: avant-garde and traditional, where the avant-garde is already a completely international style, and the traditional is popular print, a semblance of brutal, magnificent and already excessive,” shares the design team.
The first structure in the world built on this new style rests in the Lipetsk region, in the Kudykina Gora park itself. “Before the construction of the park, the owners had been developing together with us for several years. The idea of a "rethought national identity" is laid in the foundation of development. Any object: logo, mascot, food, font, planning principles, architecture, and the like, appears in the park only if it meets the general concept of identity,” they add.
One of the key transformations was conceiving a circular route along the park’s borders for pedestrians, exposing them to the untouched landscape and passing through the most vital points of the park’s attraction. The building complex sits at the starting point of this route when entering from the public car park. The first block of the Center faces towards the predicted movement of visitors to enhance its effect.
The Hospitality Center comprises separate blocks of varying heights, each volume with its own function and crafted personality. Their arrangement forms a cosy, comfortable scale, not imposing but also emerging as a landmark architecture, “reminiscent of a fragment of a street in the old city,” the Russian architects note.
All volumes stand on a single stylobate, unified by a wooden terrace that clothes the roof. “The high stylobate part is given over to technical and storage spaces and is partially hidden in the relief. Thanks to the use of relief changes, the terrace becomes an observation platform from which dramatic and vivid views of the pond, the Fortress nearby and the fire-breathing sculpture of Gorynych (the folklore hero of Russian fairy tales) open up - some of the main attractions of the park. The obtuse shape of the stylobate hangs over the tall grass, resembling the Ladya (a sailing and oaring river vessel used in Russia),” they continue.
Triangular windows, various other bespoke lattices, belts, cracks, and myriad ways of laying panels and boards, as well as the building’s proportions of prowess essay the role of decoration for the structure. These also reinterpret the architecture of the Russian Izba, a traditional, wooden Slavic countryside dwelling with gable roofs. “The combination of architectural techniques dilutes the monumental forms of the buildings in the complex. We took into consideration the degradation of buildings as if they were being built by a Russian peasant, eventually completing the required volumes, based on his changing preferences and tastes,” the architects share.
The minimal, dusky exteriors are contrasted delightfully well with the warm, fair timber insides with subtle yet detailed ornamentation, described as a “carved casket with jewels". The interior design also follows the New Russian style, with elements referencing architectural techniques from various eras of Russia and the architecture of the USSR, rethought and summarised. An array of windows inside prioritise views towards the park, and bring the sun in, complimented by custom-built bay windows which create compact, self-contained pockets to relax inside the building.
The “mountain” is the preamble in the chain of buildings that make up the Hospitality Center. Upon entering the lobby here, a dynamic volume filled with flashes, arrows, beams of lamps with a massive souvenir cart takes shape in vivid fashion. The wooden finishes and tactile surfaces begin to infuse an atmosphere of hospitality right from the front steps, the host greeting the guests at the lobby, helping them to navigate the park outside and leading them to the buffet.
The next hut is a massive volume with one nave, and houses the café with a light environment, accommodating the most number of guests. The next one with the kitchen features arched legs, like a flour store, where the concept of an open kitchen has been played in a fresh way. Here, technical premises are positioned as objects of art, glazed, illuminated and viewed from the street as showcases. A lengthy corridor leads to the restaurant hall that nestles into a more intimate corner of the same hut, its deaf surfaces discreetly adorned with patterns. The common nave is illuminated by hanging lamps that add to the cosy fabulousness of the space. The restaurant design also references Russian mansions with its heavy brick bottom, pavement floors, openwork air windows, belts of rich patterns that line the walls along with gold and brass flowers.
Bright, trendy, completely unexpected and detached from the rest of the décor is the street food volume that lies next, designed as a social space to enjoy street food, and host events and fairs. Along with the soft fuchsia lighting here, a huge ball lamp enlivens the volume.
An ode to pure geometry and shapes, the Hospitality Center walks a fine line between enclosure and openness, vernacular and contemporary architecture, drawing - in equal measure – from the existing Brutalist architecture of Russia and the soft, clean minimalism of modern design, as well as the timelessness of wood, tying in people, nature and the building as one cohesive entity.
Name: Hospitality Center
Location: Kudykina Gora Park, Russia
Area: 3,500 sqm
Year of completion: 2021
Architect: Megabudka: Bureu of Architecture
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