A distinctive residential exterior for Europe’s largest Technopark Tetris and Miro residential blocks slots facade in place

The Skolkovo Innovation Centre in Moscow is a national project financed by the Russian government. It contains the largest Technopark in Europe, spanning 96,000sqm and comprising of laboratories and offices, centres for collaborative use, a congress centre, sports areas and facilities for catering and trade.

Surrounding the Technopark is an environment designed for modern living and recreation, including 350,000sqm of apartment blocks, each with its own distinctive exterior. Helping to give the Miro and Tetris residential blocks in the D2 district of the Technopark their individual identities are VIVIX® by Formica Group panels.

An international urban planning competition to develop the Skolkovo Innovation Centre began in 2010. The following year, over 500 teams competed in a separate competition to design the residential blocks.

With sustainable design at the core of the planning, entrants were tasked with developing low-rise facilities that were both innovative and economical. The winners were issued ten sections of the D2 Technopark to construct.

Currently there are three residential blocks up and running in the district. VIVIX by Formica Group facade panels were used in the construction of two of them in 2016-2017.

Miro block

Designed by architects, Project Bureau UNK, the total area of the Miro block is 11500sqm. It contains 41 townhouses for 204 residents.

The public and private zones of Miro are distinguished by the contrasting Natural Teak facades of the residential homes against the grey tone of the ground floor. A cantilever effect further differentiates the zones with some first floor homes significantly overhanging the public zone below.

The upper level of the building has a green roof and offers private garden space as well as terraces. The ground level of the block features landscape gardens and sculptures. Accessible by cycle path, the block also has driveways to accommodate cars and internal avenues for ease of access by foot.

For the home exteriors, the architect chose durable and environmentally friendly materials suitable for recycling: concrete, plaster, AGC glass, metal, stone and High Pressure Laminate (HPL). The result sees smooth white plaster and large glass windows paired with a wood look facade, creating a natural aesthetic and environmentally friendly design solution.

Project Bureau UNK specified VIVIX panels, made from HPL, for the vertical and horizontal cladding of the building due to its material and aesthetic properties. July Borisov, the co-founder and chief architect of the UNK project, comments:

“Originally we planned to use natural wood for the facade. However, using timber in Moscow’s weather climate can be problematic, for example, buildings in Rublevka need to be sanded and varnished every two years.

“We had to look for a more practical material that also fulfilled the sustainability design requirement of the project. VIVIX panels provided the natural teak wood-look and texture aesthetic we were after. A high-pressure compressed paper, made as a result of recycling, the panels are environmentally friendly and keep their integrity for 30-40 years, greatly reducing maintenance, especially when compared to using real wood”.

July continues:

“The material’s ease of application was another big factor”. VIVIX panels are lightweight and simple to mount to a supporting frame using hidden fastenings. The concealed fastenings keep the aesthetic clean.

Tetris block

The Tetris block covers a total area of 19,000sqm. Architect Hadi Teherani at the BRT RUS office in Moscow oversaw the project. The design concept for the apartment modules is based on the classic Tetris videogame, as is evident by the positioning of the facades.

The exterior layout is a simple yet effective way to achieve visual variety for the studios and 1 and 2-bedroom apartments that make up the block.

The homes are clad with VIVIX panels in White and Terril. By taking advantage of the panels’ hidden fixings, the designers were able to use large panel sizes to add visual drama to the building.

Initially, the plan was to use large-format panels made of fibre concrete for the facades. Christoph Woop, Bureau Hadi Teherani Architects and the project manager and chief architect of the Tetris residential block explains why VIVIX was specified instead:

“We worked with local suppliers of fibre concrete but couldn’t find a Russian manufacturer who could meet our panel size requirements with the right product certificates. Achieving sustainable design means specifying building materials with consideration to their environmental friendliness, cost-effectiveness and socio-cultural significance. VIVIX panels in HPL met the criteria and so were chosen”.

Beyond contributing to the visual identity of the Miro and Tetris blocks, the VIVIX panels increase the thermal efficiency of the residential buildings by helping them achieve optimal energy performance and regulate humidity. As part of an energy efficient design, VIVIX can increase the life cycle of a building.