A villa in a pine forest in Moscow

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The first project by South African architecture studio SAOTA in Moscow, Russia, this contemporary house stands among tall pine trees on an island in the Moskova River. Its high-performance glazing system is able to meet the challenge of the harsh Russian winter temperatures, while allowing it to maintain a deep relationship with its natural surroundings.

This first project, built by SAOTA in Moscow, reconsiders the relationship between inside and outside, characterizing a home that must withstand the harsh winter temperatures of the Russian capital. Using high-performance insulating materials, the architects designed large windows so that all the rooms maintain a deep relationship with their natural environment, in particular with the pine forest in which the residence is set. In this way, they achieve the dual objective of taking advantage of the rare presence of a natural pine forest so close to downtown Moscow, while creating a contemporary building that interacts harmoniously with its surroundings and local tradition. The presence of trees has, in fact, determined the orientation of the house, creating comfortable areas to enjoy the external view, while getting the best possible natural light during the dark winter months. On the street side, the monolithic facade marks the transition between the public and private spheres, a modern interpretation of the city’s architecture, with its iconic backlit bronze cladding offering a taste of the luxurious and bright interiors. On the opposite wall, facing the garden, the structure is more fragmented, generating courtyards and spaces connected with the outside that enjoy a deep relationship with the landscape, reinforcing the fusion of boundaries, so that the presence of greenery is fully appreciated and the dwelling moves away from the heavy frames of the local building tradition. The house has warm and welcoming rooms in winter, but also outdoor living areas to get closer to nature in summer. To enhance this exceptional relationship with the greenery and the century-old trees of the pine forest, the architects covered the villa with silver-gray metal panels, which enhance its colors while providing an ideal protective envelope for the warm and lively interior. Every little detail is designed with great care and craftsmanship, creating constant cross-references between the spaces, such as the metal frame around the television, which recalls the entrance to the house. The interior design concept is by ARRCC, developed and implemented by Moscow-based designer Max Kasymov, who also managed all aspects of the construction and even custom-designed and produced a number of furnishings in addition to those supplied by OKHA.

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