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Interview with Sergey Tchoban (Speech)

Interview with Sergey Tchoban (Speech)

In light of the various museum projects you have dealt with, including the recent Museum of architectural graphics in Berlin, what is your museum concept for the present and the immediate future? What do you consider to be the relationship between the historical museum building and the new meaning of cultural entertainment?

The purpose of an architectural design museum is to present theme exhibitions with original works. So, what makes the new cultural project special and an example at the museum level? Well, in addition to exhibiting the drawings from the Tchoban Foundation collection, it will involve other organisations and museums to roll out an exchange of travelling exhibitions. This is also the foundation for my general museum concept. Museums must own their own their unique collection, and at the same time they need to attract interesting exhibition projects from other institutions; this means they have to draw attention to themselves and be of interest by diversifying the artworks on exhibition. The spatial concept of the museum and of its volumes must reflect its function, which is to offer varied exhibitions, at least in part, and to facilitate the move of single parts of those exhibitions. The museum’s design concept should reflect its spatial features and the cultural project itself.
When the container is a historical building, the architecture itself is already interesting, so our job focuses on the set-up and lighting, which must be as contemporary as possible.

Moscow recently approved the basic guidelines for the redevelopment of the former ZIL industrial complex. An area where heavy vehicles used to be manufactured for the Russian market, in addition to the cars for the PCUS executives. It has now been earmarked as a new multipurpose area with apartments, offices, hotels, cultural centres, green areas, pedestrian paths etc. What part of this project is Speech involved in?

We were responsible for a master-plan of the part of the area relating to the hockey stadium and the swimming pool. Considering the social purpose of the ice-hockey palace, we proposed a large common area in front of its long façade, with a lot of entryways, a plaza that has the historical cupola building of the ZIL museum to the north and that ends with a bridge connecting the area with the park to the south.

What value do you place on history in your project philosophy? In the residential complex on Granatny street in Moscow, you drew inspiration from A. K. Burov’s ornamental decorations. It is also interesting to see the conversion and reconstruction of an early 20th century bank building in St. Petersburg, into an apartment building. Do you think the old can still set an example for the modern, without creating conflict?

We seek interaction between the construction experience, the traditions of Russian architecture and the contemporary design goals. The Russian climate is distinctive in itself: there is not much light, particularly in winter, and sometimes it is necessary to consider the effect of air pollution, of the rain and of snow on the facades. To prevent the building from aging prematurely, the past masters used decorations and colours that could highlight the surface and give it volume even when there was little light and a great deal of heavy rainfall. A master like A. K. Burov worked extremely well with ornamental detail, which is why we thought it would be interesting to continue with his research.

Can you tell us what the Skolkovo innovation center is and how it came to be the centre of the Russian pavilion project at the most recent Architecture Biennale in Venice.

For us, “Common ground” also became the technological area of Skolkovo, a future-projected city whose image is designed by architects and residents working together. In the pavilion we wanted to spread the word about Skolkovo at different communication levels, with the aid of QR panels: it was an interesting process, developed from SPEECH Tchoban&Kuzntesov together with Grigory Revzin and Konstantin Chernozatonskij, which conveyed the nature of an innovative centre for technology, which is what we were aiming for. The QR-coded panels were positioned one after the other on the interior walls of the spaces and one of these – the Cupola – was one of the most frequently photographed and published patterns at the Biennale.

(Mara Corradi)


Images courtesy of Speech:
Office building on Leninskiy Prospekt Moscow - ph. Ilia Ivanov, ph. Zakhar Aborkin
Nevsky prospekt St Petersburg - ph. Aleksey Naroditsky
ZIL Project Moscow - 3D Graphic

Images: Russian pavilion 13th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia – Common Ground
Courtesy: la Biennale di Venezia - ph. Francesco Galli

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