In some ways Moscow is a realty consultant’s nightmare. The Soviet command economy ruled out the possibility of the existence of a realty market and the result is that there is no clearly defined Central Business District. Office buildings are spread throughout most of the city, but one place where they are not to be found is, unsurprisingly, the prestigious residential areas like Patriarch’s Ponds and ‘The Golden Mile’ around Ulitsa Ostozhenka where many top businessmen live.
From Leonardo da Vinci onwards, architects planning ideal cities have proposed separating road and pedestrian traffic to improve the quality of the environment. In practice, this means that all the access roads for wheeled traffic are located at basement level, running right underneath the actual street, and covered over with a vault at the level of the first floor. Thus, dirt and noise are removed from the street and pedestrians can circulate unimpeded by traffic and are free to enjoy the architecture which, it goes without saying, is to be sufficiently harmonious and well-planned as to befit an ideal town.
It’s pretty difficult to make any sense of the artist’s impressions of this issue’s Home of the Month at first sight. When seen in its waterfront setting, it is an enormously long, narrow, box-like structure, like a skyscraper lying on its side. The fenestration runs for the whole of the 170-meter-long facade with almost oppressive monotony, and provides virtually no clues as to what’s behind, apart from the fact that there are two floors. Yet when viewed from behind the building appears to melt away almost to nothing, looking like a slab floating in the air.