The New Old Word

The seventeen-storied VELCOM apartment house in downtown Minsk was designed with the existing architectural environment in mind. The so-called quiet centre is an inner city area with densely positioned houses built mainly in the 1950s. At the same time, some of the buildings date back to other periods, with architectural solutions varying from neoclassicism to socialist realism. The most prevalent features of the landscape are the absence of high-rises, irregular positioning and separation, the dominance of light-coloured facades and rectangular forms.

The only way to meet the challenge of inscribing into the long-established city environment an apartment block within the limits of a fairly compact area was by means of building a high-rise that would take up the role of a skyline dominant. The seventeen-storied tower project was designed so as to mimic the environment, avoid the domineering effect and accentuate the architectural integrity of the area.

The oval form of the building contrasts with the square-cluster reality of the surrounding houses and draws extra attention to the tower. At the same time, oval forms add lightness to the massive construction of the tower house and eliminate the domineering effect from the low-rise buildings nearby. The varying depth of continuous glazing on the façade creates a smooth transition from the inter-window walls to the solid framework hanging in the air, which creates a unique braided casing for the tower house. That sort of façade relief  makes the visual perception of the house even lighter and merges the tower with the local architectural style and adds perfection to it. Thanks to architectural innovation, the contemporary building of glass and concrete turns into a collective image of a building that is harmonious with the historical environment of different periods and styles, and of different architectural value.

Constructivism had been rejecting historical heritage in its quest for new forms of expression, until it itself became history. Now a return to the ideas of constructivism retells that history on a new spin of development, when those ideas are immediately perceived as part of the historical context. A solution like that suggests an original way of compressing historical architectural development plans without ignoring what was built earlier. Solutions like that can be justly called promising and praiseworthy when architecture is supposed to remain an art handicapped by historical and cultural conditionality.