Dominion Tower in Moscow is a unique type of office building in the portfolio of Zaha Hadid Architects. The architectural firm was founded and directed by the renowned Iraqi-British female architect and has gained international acclaim for its designs for futuristic public facilities: museums and cultural centres, stadiums, educational institutions, and even bridges. Office buildings are included in the list too, mostly very large structures, whether skyscrapers or colossal clusters occupying vast areas. Dominion Tower is just so different from all the rest.
The client, the Russian developer ‘Peresvet Group,’ commissioned Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) to design an unusual building that would remain modern for another fifty years. Initially, the architects came up with a design featuring very long hovering cantilevers with clear suprematist aesthetics. Although the client liked it, the bold design had to be scaled down at a later stage to fit the size of the site (62 x 50.5 metres). Conceived as long ago as 2004, and completed only this year, the seven-storey building is relatively compact. It also fits in well within the neighbourhood in the south-eastern part of Moscow, dominated by humble industrial buildings and generic housing from the Soviet era.
Its façades are covered with composite aluminium panels that seem to change colour slightly depending on the natural light. Although certainly impressive from some angles, Dominion Tower's exterior design could justifiably be labelled ‘Modest Zaha.’ However, the building is sure to be pleasing to the eyes and hearts of Muscovites, who suffered a great deal at the hands of out-of-proportion development in recent decades.
The full experience of Hadid’s exuberant architecture is reserved for those who can get inside Dominion Tower and see the breathtaking atrium with its skylights: “We love the idea of offsetting the floors and spaces to give a sense of flying. Inside this atrium, there are always things below, above, and around you, while outside there are elements floating above your head. I call this three-dimensional space ‘the space of flying’”, said Patrik Schumacher, partner at Zaha Hadid Architects, on the day of Dominion Tower’s official opening. The atrium is certainly dizzying, with its offset balconies, curved black-and-white staircases, and dynamic supergraphics applied to the walls and flooring on the ground floor. It's a very artistic place, and has proved to be an ideal environment for contemporary dance performances. One such performance took place on the opening day.
Another strong sensation that strikes visitors inside the building is the openness and visual permeability of the space. Workspaces are separated from the shared space of the atrium by means of transparent glass partitions, making it possible to see through the building virtually from window to window. The architects considered such openness beneficial to communication within the modern, dynamic businesses that will use this building.
Glass is abundant in this building; not only on the inside, but also on the outside. The designers of the project opted for three-metre tall ribbon windows without imposts to create a sense of seamless continuity in the glazed façades. The subcontractor for the joinery, MBK Stroy, chose four aluminium systems by Reynaers: CW 50-SC, CW 50-FRV (roof), CS 77-HI, and CF 77-SL. According to Anton Masak, commercial director at MBK Stroy, “Reynaers is providing high quality and is offering the services of a professional team working in our country. The company was able to satisfy the tight deadlines for completion.”
The harsh Russian climate and strict construction rules forced designers to use thick triple-glazed windows that were produced by AGC Glass. To avoid the undesirable green hue of the glazing, the first glass layer needed to be clarified. This is just a small example of the great efforts made to bring ZHA’s high-tech design to life, uniting dozens of subcontractors and specialists over a period of nearly ten years of design and construction. One can't but wonder at the fact that this job was completed without BIM. This is so to speak ‘high-tech Russian style’.
Courtesy of Reynaers Aluminium