The Architectural Concept of the Residential Development in Solovetsky Settlement

Area: 3000 м2
Solovetsky Settlement, Solovetsky island, 2021

Competition project


Typologically, the residential neighbourhood is an architectural novelty for the Solovetsky Islands. The need to align the new development with the island's quiet landscape became the main objective of the competition.
The open and free landscape with long views that are always dominated by the silhouette of the monastery is the island's main feature.
The key solutions in our concept have been predetermined by the desire to follow this fundamental principle.

The project is based on the analysis of spatial attributes, materiality, local life, and its natural context.
As a result, we interpret the free space as a most significant component of the value system inherent to this unique architectural monument.

To create a live frontline in the main streets, we use the barn morphotype and, at the same time, we open up the side of the neighbourhood facing the meadow between the neighbourhoods.
The neighbourhood yards fenced by low stone hedges face the meadow and appear to serve as its spatial extension, becoming a part of the pastoral landscape dominated by the monastery. This allows us to emphasize the unique relief line and let the natural landscape into the neighbourhood. This way, we resolve several of the main objectives: the neighbourhood's life is separated from the street and the feel of the free and open landscape has been preserved where the context requires it.

The yard is structured in the following way. Instead of a single open yard with a kitchen garden, we propose a system of smaller semiprivate spaces: kitchen gardens and flower gardens. This contributes to an individualistic character of local life and work, provides the inside space of the yard with clear boundaries, and gives the residents a feeling of privacy and security.

The yard's centrepiece is the bathhouse. Historically, bathhouses have been a very important type of the island's architecture, and we propose to give them a new interpretation and turn them into an inalienable part of life in the new neighbourhoods. The bathhouse is the hearth and heart of the neighbourhood. Contrary to the seclusion and privacy of the gardens, the bathhouse is the centre of the neighbourhood's public space and a symbol of warm neighbourly relationships.

The architecture has a pointedly 'languid' silhouette and the simplest roof shape imaginable that matches the traditional roof slope of a Solovetsky Island house. This solution has come out of the desire to preserve the monastery as the only striking feature in the island's landscape.
Contextual integration happens on the level of space, the landscape perception of the new buildings, their interaction with the surrounding landscape, and on the level of materiality: details and texture of the new buildings.
We strived to create imagery that would not be a direct reference to the Soviet times or the pre-revolutionary era, but that would re-connect and make peace between the tragically disjointed histories.