Panels and tiles in various hues transform the monochrome facades of prefabricated construction into a scenario of bright accents and gentle nuances. The careful composition of different tones and rhythms guides the perception of the large courtyards and organizes them in clearly distinct, immediately recognizable parts

The contribution of an Italian architect and designer brings precious added value, in terms of architectural and environmental quality, to a new project in Moscow. At Dmitrovskoe Shosse, about 30 km north of the city center, the investment group Mosproekt-3 has just created a large residential complex, together with Iosa Ghini Associati: 47 buildings gathered around two large courtyards of 10,000 square meters.

The technology is typical of social housing, with construction in prefabricated panels, but the target is a bit different. As Massimo Iosa Ghini explains, “there was the need to build an architectural complex on a low budget that at the same time would appeal to a sophisticated public: professors and researchers, as well as students, gravitating around the nearby Science City (National Research University).”

Iosa Ghini Associati has offices in Bologna and Milan, where architects, engineers and designers of various nationalities work. Founded in 1990, it has acquired expertise in developing projects for large groups and developers operating internationally. The professional evolution of the company matures in the design of commercial and museum architectural spaces, planning areas and structures dedicated to public transport, as well as in the design of chain stores built all over the world.

Therefore the Italian studio was called in to work with the designers in order to boost quality, as opposed to the monotony of architecture without imagination. The goal: to generate a feeling of human scale. Iosa Ghini’s idea was simple: though he could not alter the architectural design, he could intervene on the facade, using what is traditionally one of the elements of greatest economic and aesthetic benefit: color.

The large continuous facades, great compact walls of over 16 stories, have been interpreted as a sort of electronic canvas on which the brushstrokes are pixels in vivid hues, translated into tiles produced by Kerama, the Russian affiliate of Marazzi Group.



In the first lot of about 1480 apartments built from 2015 to 2017, the color is on Kabanchik, the typical facings of Soviet prefabrication, and the effect is caused by the size of the tile, 10 x 30 cm, and the prefabricated workmanship that called for a simple arrangement of large contrasting fields, black and white backgrounds and large portions in orange, red and blue.

For the second lot of 1810 apartments, the project became more complex, because as Iosa Ghini narrates, “we used a more up-to-date technology, namely batch-dyed fiber cement panels, with a height of 150 cm by a variable width that can reach 120 cm, with which to experiment with more varied juxtapositions, with more shadings and delicate variations.”

The project continues with the design of the shared spaces at the center of the courtyards: “to increase the visibility of these residential islands,” Iosa Ghini adds, “we designed areas for relaxing and playing, collective services for free time, that are functionally and chromatically integrated with the housing.”

The distinctive feature of that boundless suburb, even today, is represented by the construction system with prefabricated panels and the clustering of buildings around large courtyards.

The quality lies above all in the size of the open spaces and, at times, the communal outfitting at the center of the courtyards, though the effect of monotony and alienation caused by the interminable facades, the always identical courts and streets, remains unacceptable, lacking in landmarks or places of affection.

There was the need to build an architectural complex on a low budget that at the same time would appeal to a sophisticated public: professors and researchers, as well as students, gravitating around he nearby Science City (National Research University)."

Russian construction technology and Italian design, working together, can be a winning combination to reconcile large numbers and quality, productive efficiency and a focus on the sensorial and emotional impact of the constructed environment.

Project Iosa Ghini Associati - Photos courtesy of Mosproekt-3