Saransk, Russia — 2018

«Mercure Saransk Center» Hotel for Accor

Saransk is a city with a unique ‘naiveté’ to its architecture – the capital of the republic of Mordovia is filled with copies of many landmark buildings from across the country. It has an opera house, which represents a unique take on modernism, and a university which from a distance resembles Moscow State University in the Sparrow Hills. The city loves bright colors, and visitors are often blown away by their intensity on arrival.

At the same time, there are almost no modest buildings in the center. After a few tests we decided to go white, since any other color would be lost against the blue background of the post office building and the beet-colored theatre situated nearby. The dark blue color of the panels between the windows was chosen personally by the head of the republic. In the surrounding area there are also a lot of buildings with defined vertical structures – towers, domes and columns. We decided to bring balance to the urban-planning situation with a simple shape and a horizontal motif.

The idea of differentiating the hotel’s rooms by size came later on, so some of the floors recede, while others overhang, creating ‘deeper’ rooms. This creates wave-like horizontal structures connected by diagonal joints on every other floor.

The facades and the windows are covered with a printed net of the national emblem, which can be seen on the republic’s flag. It is an octagonal rosette, and its four parts symbolize sun, warmth, kindness and openness, as well as unity of the Mordovian people. The same motif can be seen in the interior, designed by ‘Sundukovy Sisters’ Moscow architecture studio. The restaurant’s interior features woodwork by local craftspeople. The traditions of this artform were first established by the great son of Saransk – the sculptor Stepan Erzya.

The Mercure Hotel with 115 rooms was built for the FIFA World Cup 2018. It is located in the heart of the city near the Saransk Arena sports complex, and is designed to host not only tourists, but also sports teams. The bionic architecture intentionally contrasts with its diverse surroundings, but also reflects the history of the city and its traditions, turning the building into a new landmark.

The broad ‘foundations’ of the stylobate house the lobby, the restaurant, the conference hall and the fitness center as well as the offices of the hotel’s administration. Seven floors with wavy facades rise from this base. The sketch of the white horizontal sections with a cascade of thin lintels was conceived after the creative development of the traditional Mordovian emblem. In the project, the original pattern was also repeated in white ‘ribbons’, which would light up in the evening. During construction it was possible to preserve the emblem at human eye level – printed on the first-floor windows, in the pattern on the railings and on the pylon at the entrance.

The receding floors divide the structure into three blocks symbolizing the victory podium. Together with protruding cantilever floors housing the premium-class rooms, they form a memorable, fluid, sculptural shape.

The hotel’s interiors were designed by Sundukovy Sisters studio, and the designers sought inspiration in the museum of the Mordovian sculptor Stepan Erzya. The decor uses a lot of wood, and the lobby is decorated with works of local artists. Each room has an individual design based on the contrast between the ‘flowing’ space and the geometric emblem.

According to the requirements of the hotel operator, Accor Hotels Group, in the event that the building’s main networks and grids are disconnected, the building can continue to function on its own for three days.

Facts and Figures
Team of authors
  • S. Oreshkin - project manage
  • R. Andreeva - chief architect of the project
  • E. Oreshkina, E. Karetina, D. Kozlov - architects
  • Interior designers: Design Studio "Sundukovy Sisters", Irina and Olga Sundukov