Saint Petersburg, Russia — 2010
The Malachite residential building is part of the two-building Crystals of Krestovsky Island complex.
Sergei Oreshkin: ‘This is a modernist residential building which is not typical of Saint Petersburg’s architecture – an ‘anthill house’ with a complexly-designed facade which changes the layout of the apartments on each floor. When we were constructing the complex, we were lucky that the builders made all the complex details of the facades without any objections.
The two-section, seven-storied residential building is polygonal at ground level, and U-shaped from the first floor up. The ground floor of the building houses offices and technical facilities, with the residential areas located on the second to the seventh floors. The facades of the building consist of various size features which establish a complex interplay of surfaces and structures. The geometry of the facades is enhanced by the balconies and loggias, as well as the terraces on the sixth floor. Natural stone has been used for the finishing on the exterior walls of the building.
The name of the complex was conceived by the developing company, Petrotrest, and reflects its location at the center of the island – the jewel of a city with a rich history. The complex consists of two separate buildings: Lazurite and Malachite. Interestingly, the facades were initially designed to have green decorative panels, and only later did the marketing team make the connection with precious stones. Lazurite, with its more subtle geometry, faces Grebnoy Lane, while Malachite stands opposite with its three large risalit structures which dominate the corner of Morskoy Prospekt. In addition to architectural solutions and the shared color palette, Lazurite and Malachite also share a garden, which was retained at the intersection.
To begin with several factors guided us in which direction we should experiment: the island has always been a place for cheerful walks, and the neighboring buildings were built in an eclectic style, while our bureau was interested in avant-garde and modernism. We also believe that a modern apartment building is a collection of very different families, so the apartments themselves should noticeably differ from one another. So, from the very first sketches, we concentrated on a free and artistic interpretation of the planes and facades.
Since none of the apartments have the same windows, balconies or layout, the facades came out looking appropriately complex. Their dynamic character is further emphasized by the finishing materials: polished granite plates of three different shades, and aluminum panels in green and terracotta. The windows of the balconies are collected in large blocks and also have a complex pattern: they partly resemble traditional stained glass, a far cry from the ‘industrial’ examples of typical high-rise buildings.
The underground parking lot has been raised to the level of the first floor, and its roof forms the base of the terrace. The entrances to the residential and commercial facilities are located on the terrace, away from traffic on the street.
About the location: Krestovsky Island
The last twenty years have seen a boom in the construction of premium class housing. Krestovsky Island, after the Golden Triangle and Petrogradsky District, became a place where almost every famous architect in Saint Petersburg was carrying out similar projects. We were lucky to build several residential complexes on Krestovsky Island: The Olympic Village with the Platonov Academy of Volleyball, Favorite, and Crystals of Krestovsky Island: Malachite and Lazurite.
On Finnish maps, before the appearance of Saint Petersburg, the island was called Ristisaari, which means ‘cross island’. According to legend, the name comes from a chapel which stood here with a cross that could be seen from all around. This is supported by the story that, during the construction of Grand Duchess Natalya Alexeyevna’s villa, an enormous cross was found. The name could equally have come from the cross-shaped lake located here.
The first owner of Krestovsky Island was the mighty Prince Menshikov, who laid an orchard and built a house there. It was the new owner, however, who took care of the orchard; Grand Duchess Natalya Alexeyevna, Peter the Great’s favorite sister, who received the island as a gift from her august brother. At that time the island had a new name on maps of Petersburg – St. Natalya’s Island. In the 1730’s, Anna Ioannovna gifted the island to Count Burkhard Christoph von Münnich, who did not hesitate to name the island after himself – Christophorovsky Island. Soon, however, the Empress exiled von Münnich and gifted the island to her then-favorite, Alexei Razumovsky. He, in turn, sold the island to his brother, the hetman of Little Russia and president of the Academy of Arts, Kirill Razumovsky. It was only in the late 18th century (according to some sources, the early 19th century) that the island was given back its original name. Krestovsky Island was owned by the princes Beloselsky-Belozersky for more than 100 years, until the revolution of 1917. Some of the streets on the island were named after the members of this family: Eleninskaya, Olgina, Esperova, and Konstantinovsky Prospekt.
The Crystals of Krestovsky Island are located on Morskoy Prospekt, one of the island’s main thoroughfares. From 1849, the prospekt was called Srednyaya Bolshaya (Middle Grand) Alley since it went through the center to the sea, right up until the 1930’s, when the Kirov Stadium was built.