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Babylonian vision for Urals

October 1 2008

Babylonian vision for Urals
An international design competition for a new landmark development in Russia’s third largest city, Ekaterinburg has been won by an alliance between developer Vector-Stroy and French holding Vinci Construction Grands Projets with UK-based international architectural firm RMJM.

The serviced apartments and five star hotel forms the heart of a new arts, culture and sports quarter on the banks of the river Iset in Ekaterinburg, capital of the vast Ural region on the edge of Siberia.  The arched form of the proposed 100 metre structure echoes the poetic curves of the city’s Byzantine Temple of Blood.
Behind the glass and steel exterior will lie a vertical, hanging evergreen park running through the atrium at the heart of the building. Designed for the enjoyment of the general public as well as those who live and work within, the park is thought to be the first of its kind in the world and will act as thermal buffer zone to control the building’s temperature.   The vertical park is topped by a public sky park at the building’s pinnacle offering panoramic views of Ekaterinburg and beyond.

Matt Cartwright, director of RMJM, the architects behind the scheme, explains the thinking behind the unusual idea: “Like many cities in Russia, extreme climates in summer and winter prohibit many people from enjoying public parks and spaces. We decided to bring the outdoors inside and provide the public with a park they can enjoy year round.

“We are delighted to have won the competition and to be able to see our designs become a reality. Ekaterinburg is a city steeped in tradition but which also has a bright future ahead. This new development heralds the start of a new era and signals the investment being made to return Ekaterinburg to the great city it once was.”

RMJM has offices in Moscow and St Petersburg and has an estimated £2.5 billion worth of projects in Russia. These projects include the design of the twisting City Palace Tower for the new business district of Moscow and the 396-metre Okhta Tower in St Petersburg. In Ekaterinburg, the architect is also developing designs for a Hilton Hotel and an office development for the diplomatic quarter of the city.

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