by Jerry ElengicalJul 19, 2021
Redefining the paradigm of a traditional cellular office building and setting new precedents for comfort, quality, and flexibility, Foster + Partners' new headquarters for the Russian Copper Company (RCC) in Ekaterinburg has officially opened. Enveloped by a facade reminiscent of a jagged, crystalline sheath bathed in a golden aura, it is the firm's first completed office building in Russia. The project revitalised a former brownfield site in proximity to the path of the Iset River within the inner city. Head of Studio at Foster + Partners, Luke Fox, states, “The new headquarters for RCC exemplifies the practice’s commitment to innovation and marks the culmination of a long and fruitful process”.
Rising to a height of 88 metres, the 15-storey, 18,450 sqm building boasts of 123 offices, meeting spaces, a video conference room, boardroom, a large central lobby, and an executive dining area. The three-storey basement parking accommodates spaces for 85 cars, 32 cycles, and two handicapped bays alongside EV charging stations. The building as a whole is intended to be an emblem for RCC in Ekaterinburg. Its state-of-the-art modular exterior facade pays tribute to the organisation's line of work while providing a dazzling riverside landmark for residents.
"Throughout the process, we aimed to maintain exceptional quality of construction in the face of very challenging conditions, adds Fox. Ekaterinburg's wide seasonal temperature ranges from +30 and -30 degrees Celsius. The structure required a balance between opaque and transparent glazed exterior sections that maximised daylight from the low-angled winter sun and alleviated excess heat during summers. In response, Foster + Partners aimed to achieve performance levels worthy of the highest BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method) rating while designing the facade system.
Honouring RCC's position as one of the largest producers of copper worldwide, the building's unitised facade scheme combines framed, triple-glazed sections with triangular elements inspired by the crystalline lattice structure of copper itself. These elements are composed of bronze PVD-coated micro-ribbed stainless steel, mounted in two-storey cladding modules on the building's in-situ white concrete structure. Featuring sharp, angular edges and axial symmetry, they impart a vibrant sense of rhythm to the facade and forge visual continuity with surrounding structures. The building's crown incorporates the company's redesigned logo, which is in turn drawn out from the architecture.
While designing the internal layouts, the goal was to avoid the tropes of large, communal work areas and instead re-envision the office as a 'house for staff' on a more 'intimate, domestic scale’. For this purpose, the practice solicited the aid of its workplace consultancy group to develop a cutting-edge modular construction system based on a thorough analysis of RCC's operations. In-house engineering teams then utilised this data to facilitate efficient, high-quality construction that ensured optimum daylight in workspaces.
The resulting system comprises double-storey modules that inform the exterior facade grid. They consist of pairs of offices stacked above one another and placed along both sides of a central double-height hallway that acts as a breakout area - featuring a bifurcated staircase, lounge seating and expansive views of the city through the glazed lift shaft. At the uppermost level is a gathering space for company-wide events, which are top-lit by glass lanterns.
Expansive windows framed by triangular elements are strategically patterned to form the facade. These glazed interior sections provide views of the city skyline and newly landscaped embankment below. At the ground level, this green area leads to a private zone for the staff. The landscaping here adopts a cellular arrangement, similar to the facade and interior, with tranquil spaces for employees to enjoy meals and unwind.
With regards to the interior design, Jeremy Kim, a Partner at Foster + Partners, explains, "Together with the client, our integrated team has developed a bespoke solution for RCC’s new headquarters that is a perfect fit for the company and the very nature of their work”. Shared spaces and work areas both feature palettes of marble and natural timber, exuding a sense of lightness while crafting a warm, homely atmosphere that adheres to the design's underlying theme. Triangular facade motifs are echoed in the office furniture, false ceilings, and partitions, which Kim reveals as "everything from the building structure to the bespoke furniture was designed specifically for the company, illustrating our commitment to craftsmanship”.
RCC's new headquarters is a statement of intent by the organisation that signals their prominence on the global stage. The design re-envisions the concept of an office as an inviting 'second home' for its staff while exemplifying Foster + Partners' continued commitment to innovatively efficient sustainable architecture.
Name: RCC Headquarters
Location: Ekaterinburg, Russia
Client: RCC (Russian Copper Company)
Architect and Interiors: Foster + Partners
Collaborating Architect: P. M. VostokProekt
Structural, Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Foster + Partners/P. M. VostokProekt
Construction Timeline: 2015-2021
Site Area: 2,415m2
Area (Gross): 18,450m²
Net Internal Area: 14,045m2
Typical Floor Area: 943m²
Number of Floors: 3 basement + 15 above ground
Façade Engineer: Priedemann
Vertical Transportation: D2E
Lighting Consultant: Jason Bruges Studio
Acoustic Engineer: Sandy Brown
Landscape Consultant: Hyland Edgar Driver
(Text by Jerry Joe Elengical, intern at STIRworld.com)