Future of Russian architecture

In the past years, we have become used to international architecture bureaus dominating the Russian construction market. Now that they have left Russia, local and Asian architects will take up their place.

A 13-meter scale model of Moscow in the City section of the Moscow Urban Economy Museum that opened in Pavilion 5 of the Moscow Urban Economy Center at VDNKh. Vitaly Belousov/RIA Novosti

Creating added value to a project is the primary reason why developers engage foreign architects. Big names of international architects boost the project’s appeal for the end customer. It is a good PR move to create a unique offer that will stand out among competitors.

Russian architects can absolutely compete with international bureaus when it comes to quality. Trust is the key nuance. Mentally, Russian customers are ready to accept creative, bold and innovative projects by international architects but they reject similar projects by Russian bureaus at the inception stage. This is a brick wall that stops Russian architects from showing their worth.

Meganom is a good example of overcoming this mental barrier and stereotypes to realize its full potential. The bureau recently designed its first building abroad: a skyscraper at 262 Fifth Avenue will spring up on Manhattan and become the tallest between Empire State Building and One World Trade Center.

The fact that Russian bureaus win international competitions and awards in architecture and design clearly shows that we have the professionals and the projects worth the highest praise from international juries. For example, in the past years, the number of Russian bureaus among the winners of International Property Awards has been growing.

It is important to understand that even now Russian architects are not isolated. In some cases, foreign colleagues get involved if not in entire projects but at least in designing specific parts.  Professional communications and sharing experience continues. Thanks to online communications, Russian architects will participate in experience exchanges, training and will remain at the same level as their foreign colleagues in Europe, the United States or Asia. International bureaus may be leaving Russia but they continue to communicate and work with Russian colleagues maintaining international professional links to a certain extent. Many Russian bureaus consult with and use the resources of their international colleagues to close certain gaps in their projects. For example, a Russian bureau may act as the general designer but colleagues from Amsterdam will be involved in landscaping while a German bureau will design facades, etc. Projects like this exist and there will be more.

Hopefully, Russian clients have become more informed and demanding after years of cooperating with international bureaus. Now, when choosing Russian architects, they will be less conservative and we will see world-class quality.

It would be nice if the government also started taking advantage of Russian architects’ potential not only in municipal but also in regional and federal projects. That would help talented architects in Russia develop, discover new names, and set trends and examples for real estate developers.

By Alexei Bravin, CEO of G5 Architects

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