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Project Orange breathes new life into a Moscow factory using vibrant colour

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The refurbishment project in Moscow ‘represents an alternative approach to the creation of office space’

The challenge was to create an architecture based around the reused structure of a 20,000 sqm former 1970s Soviet manufacturing building that had clarity, was simple to construct and that would be relevant. Project Orange was asked to design a complete scheme, including the landscaping, façades and interiors.

By forming two large atria and providing ample communal spaces, a previously harsh environment becomes an incubator for small to medium sized businesses. The building expresses its industrial heritage, bringing together the past and present. From the outside, continuous ground floor glazing permits glimpses of brightly painted pieces of the old steel structure. The upper floors were clad using Clinker brick tiles which also wrap inside and define the central lift core. At night it glows, allowing the brick box of the upper three floors to ‘hover’ off the ground, punctured by a syncopated rhythm of windows. External illumination adds life to the monolithic form of the building, which is set within contemporary landscaping dotted with indigenous evergreens and pocket-sized parks.

Internally, the colour and vitality alluded to on the outside continue, enlivening the large internal atria, corridors and other communal spaces, which provide amenity for the workers that will inhabit the building. Materials are simple, with local timber sitting alongside bare concrete and painted steelwork to simultaneously convey the industrial past and provide a modern workplace.

170519 po moscow 1zhukov 011

170519 po moscow 1zhukov 011

Project data

Start on Site June 2015
Completion January 2017
Gross Internal Floor Area 22,550 sqm
Form of Contract Management Contracting (local)
Construction Cost N/A
Architect Project Orange
Client ICM Company
Engineer Niizhb
M&E PFK AK and Clivet
Project Manager ICM Company
Landscape Janey Auchincloss Designs
CAD Vectorworks




Architect’s view

Throughout the project we worked with the client’s construction manager and a local architect who translated the drawings into Russian and oversaw the contract. While we never saw the actual budget we were offered an outline cost for materials which allowed us to make appropriate choices early on. We had not anticipated that the role of the lead architect also meant you have to provide drawings and areas for all materials. A further challenge on site was that the original survey had been ‘corrected’ to show everything lined up. However once stripped back to the bones, it was clear that the columns were not in alignment, so we had to adjust some of the internal construction to allow for more tolerance. From the outset we accepted and embraced that we would expose the existing structure which sometimes resulted in an awkward honesty.

The project has resulted in a sustainable building which uses the old structure; it is a new business model that helps local SMEs and it bucks the trend for shiny new offices, embracing the robust legacy of the original factory. The client’s final comment was that it looks so good it could easily sit next to the Kremlin. We are not sure we agree with the second half of that statement!

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