Kharkov is a city where every epoch spoke its own architectural language, “the old” and “the new” being interwoven in a dualistic unity. The building is located in the vicinity of the main square (Svobody square – meaning “Liberty”), where the dialogue between modernism (constructivism) and traditional architecture is most evident. The plot remained undeveloped for a long time. After World War II, a couple of windows appeared in the brandmauers of the adjacent buildings. When we received this commission, there was nothing on the plot but a relatively small two-storeyed office in the back of the site, which belongs to our client. A small atrium inside this building functions as an exhibition hall open to general public. In fact, the client is known to be a major sponsor of different cultural and social programs and events.
In search of strategies for commercial aspect of the project, our main goal was to furnish our client with new possibilities to realize his social initiatives. We sought to achieve balance, or better say, a synergetic effect between business and philanthropy.
A u-shaped layout of the building was adopted, which solved a whole range of issues. Locating volumes along the perimeter of the plot ensured circulation between the old and the new buildings. Apart from that, this created a new type of urban space and a venue for open-air exhibitions, with an utterly contact-encouraging front of the retail space.
A vast open space lying in front of the building suggested an idea to use the street-facing façade as a stage. Moreover, the volume was supposed to seam up the block, and invite some sunlight into the brandmauer windows. The counter-relief gave us the possibility to satisfy in a flexible way all these requirements, providing for the different functions of the premises and ensuring adequate illumination. Stage equipment can be mounted on the two lower terraces and on the frame. In this way, architectural performance easily transforms into a concert show. Towers house conference-halls and meeting rooms.
An inwardly-turned shopping gallery connects the courtyard with the main street.
A light glazed lower part of the building creates an interesting contrast with a heavier upper volume. Underground parking is connected by means of tunnels with the neighbouring streets, thus leaving the sidewalk along the main road for pedestrians only.
In case of further development of the plot, open spaces are supposed to continue into the neighbouring street.