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Tea Pavilion by Architectural Studio XYZ, Moscow, Russia

XYZ’s tea arbor, made from 12,000 wooden blocks, floats lightly on a pontoon on a lake. Photography by Aleksey Narodizki

This is the first Russian project to feature in the AR Awards, slightly distorting the fact that since the closure of state-run architectural offices, many individuals have ventured into private practice. It is already evident that the emerging generation of Russian architects are ambitious and optimistic, and will no doubt go on to produce fine work.

Yet so far, few projects have exhibited the sort of rigorous architectural rationale that the AR seeks to promote, with the majority of the nation’s new buildings responding to market forces and the client- and developer-led hunger for the vast and the vulgar. The authorship of this delightful, understated project, therefore, came as a pleasant surprise, being the work of Moscow-based designers Svetlana Golovina and Andrey Kalina, who operate as Architectural Studio XYZ.

This project is for a tea arbour that floats on a pontoon on a lake in a sports complex. Measuring 7.6m long, 4.4m wide and 4.6m high, the structural matrix comprises almost 12,000 wooden blocks, threaded onto a 184 x 184mm grid of steel reinforcement bars to form a rigid structure. In cross section, a profile has been eroded from the matrix, which helps establish what the architects call ‘a Chinese character’, described as being ‘not so much a matter of shape as of sophisticated construction’. Threaded together on the metal frame, the wooden blocks are reminiscent of traditional oriental toy - little balls immured in one another.

Architect Architectural Studio XYZ, Moscow, Russia
Project team Svetlana Golovina, Andrey Kalina
Building contractor Eduard Philimonov

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