Creating a New Classical Urban Fabric (Maxim Atayants)

In Moscow and St. Petersburg where Maxim Atayants works, new buildings continue to be constructed using one of two styles – either classical, or 1960s concrete/glass style.  As an architect, Maxim believes it is important to create a continuous, human scale urban fabric that provides a hospitable background and setting for people’s lives. Classical architecture and urban design allows him to achieve this goal.

Instead of the overly large concrete “storage box” housing that provides little more than shelter for sleeping bodies, Atayants believes it is important for a city to consist of a fabric of urban blocks, and a hierarchy of roads, streets, boulevards. Buildings should have facades to the front, and back yards; the parking problem should be solved by putting parking under the courtyards, and the courtyards should be free of any cars so that children can play there safely. This is nothing new, emphasized Maxim, but he does not feel the need to be “New”.

During the last 8 years he has designed nine new neighborhoods around Moscow, already built, sold and inhabited, or under construction.   More than 25,000 people are already living in them, and many more neighborhoods are under way.

Maxim also designed a ski village in Sochi for the Olympic and Para-Olympic games, and this is now a ski resort. It creates a feeling of urban space with squares, and continuous urban fabric; and it includes a 5-star hotel that on this steep terrain serves as a retaining wall. It was important to use an architecture that did not spoil the experience of this breathtaking landscape.

One new urban neighborhood for 12,000 inhabitants which is already completed has buildings 4-8 stories, and includes a school, and a couple of kindergartens. The high density improves the urban feeling. Pedestrian passages run beneath the buildings to allow children to walk to kindergarten and school without crossing any streets with heavy traffic. The development includes a bridge over a canal containing 4 luxury apartments, which were sold at 4 times the price of other apartments. Parking was provided at the periphery as a kind of city wall to protect the neighborhood from the heavily trafficked road.

Another project Maxim is currently working on is at the scale of a city with 65,000 – 70,000 inhabitants. With this size all the facilities need to be provided – market place, city administration, concert hall, etc. – everything. A canal runs the length of the development, and parks and squares are spaced throughout the city. Multi-story parking garages protect the neighborhoods from roads with heavy traffic, and towards the city they provide an area for terraced gardens. The city contains no supermarkets, but instead has a winding pedestrian shopping street.

Maxim finished his presentation with an account of the church he has built at his own cost in the small village in the mountains of Armenia where he was born. The village had been decimated in the ethnic conflicts after the integration of the Soviet Union. He decided to rebuild the village and bring back the inhabitants. The first building he built was the church, and he is now building five substantial stone houses in the traditional style.