Ulyanova Architects create a community focused and innovative future for an abandoned boiler house.
In 2019 I completed my master's program in a MARCH Architecture School which is in partnership with the Sir John Cass Faculty of Arts, Architecture, and Design of London Metropolitan University (LMU). Where my dissertation was a project of revitalization of the typical boiler houses - “Boiler house. - New Basilica”. Currently, I am a co-founder of the studio, Ulyanova Architects. We are mainly engaged in private architecture and interior design, and sometimes, I collaborate with other architects.
When I saw an Adaptive Reuse Architecture design competition the first time and read a brief, I understood that is all about my project and I have to try my luck and submit my “Boiler house. - New Basilica” to the competition. It was a big surprise for me that my design won the grand prize.
A project of a revitalization of typical boiler houses wasn't a commercial order, but I tried to propose a solution (for the reincarnation of these buildings) that would be possible to bring to life. While working on the project, I researched abandoned boiler houses, studied the construction of boilers, technologies for the production of biofuels from cyanobacteria, attended excursions of industrial buildings which are reused now, and even got a visit to an operating boiler house. All of this was a challenge for me, but I needed to create a quality project.
Yes, “Boiler house. - New Basilica” has won a lot of competitions in Russia, which inspired me. One of the reasons for my participation in the competitions is the desire to show potential investors and the city that there is such a project, which can improve the community life of the quarter and even the district. However, in Russia, it is difficult to explain to investors that renovation is sometimes better and more profitable rather than demolition. I hope that someday, the sleeping areas will become more comfortable for life, and the old boiler houses will have a second life. The physical warmth, that was in the boiler house earlier, will be transformed into “the heartfelt warmth” of the community center.
“Boiler house. - New Basilica”
It is typical in Moscow that places of public attraction are located in the city center. This means that most citizens do not have the opportunity to relax where they live - in the periphery. My project offers a solution to this problem without large-scale construction.
Boiler House. - New Basilica is a combination of 3 revitalization programs for typical boiler houses built in Moscow between 1960-1985. They were the energy center of the quarters, but even though the function of those buildings is outdated, they still have potential.
I propose to save the utilitarian function of the building - heating, but replace gas fuel with an ecological algae biofuel. The architectural similarity of the boiler house with the early Christian basilica prompted me to reinforce this image and develop the basilica as an archetype, to a community center which will become the center of public life for the quarter.
The first program is utilitarian. In the renewed boiler house, cyanobacteria will be grown, processed into fuel, and used for heating. This function will be useful for quarters which already have existing social areas.
The second program is a mix of functions. The utilitarian function prevails, but the social function has additional spaces like a gallery and atrium (images of the second program added).
In the third program, social function is dominant and it is a more realistic program.
As you see the volume of the utilitarian function is opaque, whereas the community center, in contrast, is transparent.
Due to my project, the sleeping areas will become more comfortable for life, and the old boiler houses will have a second life. The physical heat will pass into heartfelt warmth.