Art residences – Nikola-Lenivets, Russia

Competition 2012 – winner

In collaboration with Sander Lap (LAP Landscape and Urban design), Juan Tur (MADHOC Arquitectura + Paisaje), Askar Ramazanov, Masha Kachalova (Rhizome group), Anton Ivanov

Team collaborators:
Paula Abalos, Barend Mense, Christian Rommelse, Camilla Migliori, Katarzyna Nowak, Ekatherine Timina, Ben Wegdam, Agnieszka Zborowska

Advisor sustainable energy: SUNRAYtec

For: ANO ArchPolis

The villages Nikola-Lenivets, Kol’tsovo and Zvizzhi, located some 200 kilometres southwest of Moscow, will be extended in the coming years with a new community for creative people and artists. The three different villages are connected by the art of Nikolai Polissky, living in the proximity of the villages. Together with local people, Polissky creates large art installations in the nature flanking the Ugra Park. With the annual Archstoyanie festival, the village gained international recognition. Because of the increasing popularity of the festival and activities regarding art, the idea raised to create an environment-friendly, self-manageable complex for living, leisure, work and creativity, all in harmony with nature. The competition brief consisted of three dorms, a nursery, expo pavilion, ten family houses and twenty private residence units, all dispersed over 140 hectares of territory.

Being in the outback of the Russian nature, the inhabitants are exposed to the harsh local climate. This forces the new development to be self-supporting and sustainable. The environmental condition, art installations and adventurous art community form the basis of the design concept called: ‘Constellation’. As stars in the cosmos, buildings and residences are spread on the site while connected with basic infrastructure. This system takes maximal advantage of the landscape, yet has minimal impact on nature. The program of the brief was categorised in ranges of dynamics, comfort levels and length of stay. Parallel to this, the plan proposes specific summer and winter situations. Freezing winter winds, sunny areas in summer and spatial site characteristics result in the determination of ‘points of natural brilliance’. The program is strategically placed according to these points.

The heart of the site, the field of stars, was left as a void due to climate conditions and to create possibilities for summer festivals. On the parameter of this field, three settlements form the dorms, expo pavilion and nursery. The settlements, called ‘farm’, ‘field’ and ‘forest’, relating to existing qualities, have different central fields of wild flowers. As sheltering collective, wooden barn-like sleeping units, art studio’s and community buildings frame the central field. Boardwalks link the buildings and offer a comfortable walk while enjoying the natural scenery. The vernacular architecture of the settlements creates a fluid integration in the typical landscape setting.

New infrastructure including electricity and roads for motorised traffic will connect local infrastructure to the settlements as well as ten comfortable eco-villas. The villas will later be designed by clients, architects and artists. Only the site envelope and basic utilities are provided in the framework of the design scheme. In the far ends of the project site, on the ‘points of natural brilliance’, the residence units are situated. Architects and artists can freely design units for drinking water, personal hygiene and even communal solar energy. ‘The Constellation’ has given a broad ideas catalogue for these units and villas.

Within the flexible framework of the plan, Nikola Lenivets can be experienced during every moment of the day, the whole year long. The constellation of settlements, residences, villas, festivals and art installations makes all imaginable uses of the territory possible. This plan is about facilitating creativity and life out in the nature, stimulating personal development underneath the stars.