Archi.ru: Vladimir Ionovich, your workshop has just taken part in two high-profile international competitions - for the concept of development of the Berezhkovskaya Embankment and the new building of the Polytechnic Museum. What are your impressions of these competitions?
Vladimir Plotkin: I am somewhat disappointed with the results of both competitions. Not by their results, but by our participation in them. Both of our projects seemed successful to us - until we saw the proposals of our colleagues. And now I understand very clearly that in both cases we clearly missed the job.
Archi.ru: To be honest, I personally think that your project for Berezhkovskaya Embankment was one of the strongest
V. P.: As the results of this competition showed, the customer did not need a detailed concept, but only possible options, outlines of a development strategy - at such an early stage, the customer apparently did not want to be tied down with specific proposals for zoning and development of the territory. We came up with our concept very quickly, and in general it seems to me to be successful for local, not strategic development of the site, but then it was worthwhile to focus not on working out the invented solution, but on a broader analysis of the situation as a whole.
Archi.ru: But, in the end, it was a consultation competition, which, by definition, has no clear rules and criteria. And, by the way, the customer intends to use the proposals of all teams when creating the final project. How sensible do you personally think the idea of an architectural consortium for this place?
V. P.: Better ask me how reasonable the idea of the development of this territory seems to me. Look at the map: this is a sack! He has an entrance, but no sensible exit. It is cut off from the most active part of the city by railways, from the normal communication with the embankment - the territory of the thermal power station. In fact, there is only one useless opportunity to seep from the side of the embankment - closer to the Third Transport Ring. With such inputs, large-scale construction will inevitably lead to another urban problem. The proximity of key transport arteries alone does not provide accessibility! And although all the participants (including us) tried to somehow solve this problem in their projects, pedestrian bridges alone cannot change the situation. A fundamental solution to the problem is needed, creating a new urban fabric and linking it with the existing one - for example, to remove railway tracks altogether, or at least to cover them with a platform. Even a phased development of this territory, in my opinion, is very risky for an investor, as it can lead him to a financial dead end.
Archi.ru: To what extent is Moscow today, in your opinion, generally ready for radical measures to solve its urban planning problems?
V. P.: With the amount of money that is spinning here ?! Technically anything is possible. But the will is needed, which will make the giant clumsy decision-making and implementation machine move in the right direction. Moreover, the will is not of the Moscow government, but of the federal government. Of course, I am aware that even if such a decision is made, the situation will not change overnight. But the city, in any case, cannot do without surgical intervention. It is not enough to treat his problems only in a targeted manner - such tactics can be used only within the historical center.
Archi.ru: What can architects do in the absence of this will? Do architectural competitions, which have been held more and more often, somehow help to understand the current state of affairs and convey this information to those who make decisions?
V. P.: Conceptual urban planning initiatives by architects never stopped. Thank God, the situation with competitions itself has noticeably changed for the better lately. Competitions are widely announced and the authorities themselves delegate experts for their competent conduct and analysis of the results. If this is not a game of democracy, then this is encouraging. At least now a professional program is being written for almost every significant architectural competition, teams of specialists have appeared capable of doing this, first of all, I mean the Strelka Institute. Moreover, the programs are being developed at a really high level, maybe even too detailed and detailed - I think this is a kind of reaction to the acute shortage of previous years, when customers announced tenders on some tattered tracing paper or picture in raster format without any conditions at all … At that time, there was no need to talk about the evaluation criteria at all - at best, the developed projects were looked at by an evaluation commission consisting of marketers and realtors, to which a district architect or one consultant was invited. And there were a huge number of such "contests"! Last summer I gave a lecture at the MARCH school and decided to show the students exactly what projects we have completed in the framework of various competitions over the past two years. To be honest, I myself thought I would type 12-15 concepts, but it turned out that there are 24 of them! That is, exactly one competition per month.
Archi.ru: How many of them have you won? And how many actually went to work?
V. P.: Every tenth competition won by our foreign colleagues is considered a successful norm. We won four, but only one project actually started. Plus, concrete work seems to be starting on a residential complex on Bukhvostov Street in Moscow. So the efficiency is not very high. More than once there were situations when we won the competition, and the construction eventually began on a different project. Perhaps the most offensive plot is the competition for the triangle in Moscow City and the competition for the development of Savvinskaya embankment, not only our project, but none of the presented projects won in these competitions, and the architects were eventually invited from outside. What for? Why? These questions are doomed to hang in the air, since no clear rules of the game existed in principle. And this applies not only to competitions …
Archi.ru: What is the reason for this, do you think?
V. P.: I think this is largely a consequence of the economic crisis, which severely crippled and altered the very structure of the development market in Russia. Indeed, until 2008, construction was most successfully carried out by companies that were initially created precisely as development companies and which managed to form quite well within 10-15 years of work, learned to formulate the technical specification quite clearly and were plus or minus focused on quality - in other words, they were professionals. And then they went bankrupt, their employees dispersed into different teams, and new people came to the construction market, mainly large banks that have funds, but, as a rule, have no idea what they want, and the process is led by, say so, eclectic. In fact, this leads to the fact that any competition turns into a game of “guessing - not guessing” taste preferences, it is good if one person, and more often a group of creative advisors who have their own understanding of beauty and the correct typology.
And each time, starting a new job, the architect is forced to solve a problem with a thousand unknowns. In particular, it is almost never clear in advance what kind of regulations a particular area is burdened with. As a result, all design turns into an endless adjustment to the emerging encumbrances and constantly changing requirements of the customer - it is very difficult to do in such conditions a thing that will reflect and transform the context, carry the personal and artistic impulse of the team that invented it.
Archi.ru: Vladimir Ionovich, and yet it seems to me that you are just one of the few contemporary Russian architects who has succeeded and succeeds more than once.
V. P.: Our buildings are always a compromise, and, alas, often a very bitter compromise. And therefore, when designing some new thing, I always hope that now I will definitely rehabilitate myself, and then, when the house is being completed, once again I understand how naive such expectations are … But in the language of architecture I want to speak not about conventions, but about movement, about context, about those allusions that this or that place suggests. This is what makes the construction a real event, but in our conditions, almost all of this remains a dream - even just a beautifully proportioned piece to build, alas, is not always possible.
Archi.ru: What projects of TPO "Reserve" are being implemented now?
V. P.: First of all, several old projects have entered the final stages of implementation. This year, a project will be completed in the District, which began back in the days when the neighboring innovation city was not even invented. The building on Valovaya is being completed - a house with a difficult fate, which had an insane number of options, which I will definitely publish someday, it will turn out to be an impressive volume of projects. The residential complex "Tricolor" is also being built, albeit more slowly than we would like, as well as Ivanovskoye. The headquarters of the UAC in Zhukovsky is being completed. They have just begun to build a residential complex on Khodynskoye Pole for Capital Group. For the aforementioned residential complex on Bukhvostov Street, we started stage "P", but there are a lot of unresolved issues - both territorial and legal. The fate of the residential area in Patroclus Bay is also unclear - as the customer recently said, he may use some of our ideas. I'm afraid that in the end they will make some obnoxious caricature of our draft proposal - but unfortunately I cannot influence this in any way.
Archi.ru: Why, in your opinion, beautifully proportioned pieces are less in demand today than such absurd cartoons?
V. P.: Only today? The eternal question! Much has been written about the metaphysics of the aesthetic perception of architecture by society. You can calm yourself, remembering the words of one classic, that there are as many types of beauty as there are ways to find happiness. But there are also private, quite tangible reasons, for example, the conformism of the architects themselves (for myself, I am not making an exception), who are called upon to go ahead of the philistine notions of beauty. Last but not least, would-be consultants are to blame, who “calculate” and analyze what people of a specific target audience are ready to buy and what styles they prefer at the moment, and developers blindly follow their conclusions and recommendations. And what will we leave to our descendants? A question that has stuck in my teeth, but nevertheless: what can be shown in the city as an example of the architecture of our time in 20-30 years? Painted and supposedly very expensive on the outside and cheap on the inside are ugliness, presented as architecture. If we call a spade a spade, then this is a banal fooling of the layman: before our very eyes, a generation is growing that considers this to be architecture, for whom the urban environment consists of such dummies and does not hurt the eyes. And when I see all this, I understand that our professional duty is to defend at least proportions, at least materials, at least geometry.