2017
Transformer
13 superordinary apartments in a very outstanding building
Tutors: Alexander Brodsky, Nadja Korbut

The project is dedicated to an electrical substation (Transformer) located at Krasny Oktyabr. It was no longer needed, so it was shut down and condemned to demolition. The building is huge and very beautiful. It will be demolished by the end of autumn, I think. Our project is a kind of tribute and a way to pay respect to this gorgeous building.

We had decided to randomly divide it into 13 parts since we have 13 students. We let them inside in winter, in the dark. They investigated the building in and out, researched all labyrinths, made a plan, and split it among each other. Then, each student assigned some function to one's part. There is a prison, a casino, a church, a banya, a dairy farm, a parliament – a total of 13 completely different things. They've created a small city. We were inspired by buildings, such as Diocletian's Palace in Split and ancient amphitheatres occupied by medieval cities like Arles. They've created something like that.

The main difficulty was that it was real teamwork: students needed to fill the whole space, define the boundaries of each area and establish lines of communication. As a result, a highly complex organism was created.
Alexander Brodsky, Head of the Transformer, aka Marseille Soup studio
Our task was to explore The Transformer, feel it, discover it and imagine which function and where could be in this mysterious place. After each of us picked up one part of the building we developed 13 projects.
First acquaintance

During my first visit to the electrical substation, I noticed a part that looked different from the rest of the building. There were no production areas or darkness, nor were there any generators or machinery. There were windows, lots of light, and the old walls keeping memories: books, a calendar from 1988, a cup with decades-worth coffee stains, old shoes by the window, posters with cars and girls. That was not the place where people would come just to work, they lived and socialized there. That's where their daily life took place. Rare partitions made that space look like a residential entrance hall.


Through reflecting on what I had seen and had felt there, I formulated the 'Transformer's mystery'. My following project work was based on it.

1. Transformer is a place for living

2. Transformer keeps a trace of daily life

3. Transformer is a place where it all got mixed up

Daily life

At the beginning of March, I went home to Minsk. From my window, I saw a line of ordinary apartment blocks. A classical view of a commuter suburb. It was a sunny frosty day, and all those standard apartment blocks at different angles made up a vivid and interesting rhythmic picture. Combinations of standard panels in different couplings and angles made up a peculiar, random yet consistent picture.
I recognized some poetics in my daily life, took a notebook and wrote down all the stereotypes I had about accommodation that came to my mind. Later, I was looking for daily life in newspapers with ads and everyday things around me.



Chance

It was obvious that such an extraordinary place as Transformer needs a special approach to formulating spatial typologies. I took the list with the accommodation stereotypes and cut it into separate words and word combinations: one-room apartment, two-room apartment, of a variable number of storeys, roof unit, adjacent, with a balcony, etc. After this, each 'resident' of Transformer pulled out 2 cards, thus defining an apartment typology for their function. By combining ordinary words, by mixing and matching them I got an extraordinary result: 13 unique types of apartments in one apartment block.

Image

Just like many ingredients come together in the Marseille soup, thirteen different functions fill the common space of Transformer, and thirteen apartments are connected by a single entrance hall. Different accommodation typologies can be found here – from a communal apartment for farmers and homeless people to a tiny foreman house on the roof.

I was reflecting on what was missing in other parts and functions of Transformer, what was excess, how it was possible to represent each participant's accommodation from an architectural perspective. Having obtained 13 combinations defining the storey structure, location inside the building, the size, or all of the above together, an image of the future accommodation started developing in my head.

First sketches
Sections
Facades
I shoot small videos during all the time I was studying in Transformer studio. After all I made this video.

Made on
Tilda