Suprematism in glass and concrete: School of management Skolkovo

In the Odintsovsky District of Moscow Region the nishing touches have just been put to one of the most striking pieces of architecture in Russia today, the campus of Moscow School of Management Skolkovo. According to its author, the British architect David Adjaye, the building’s composition was inspired by the supermatist paintings of Kazimir Malevich and its chromatic scheme by traditional African colours.

Suprematism in glass and concrete: School of management Skolkovo

Moscow School of Management Skolkovo was founded almost five years ago by representatives of 18 major Russian and foreign companies as an alternative to European and American business schools and as a centre for research into key trends in the world economy. The role of these businessmen as the school’s partners is more than merely financial; they also serve as teachers, trainers, and authors of programmes and master- classes, meaning that they actively share their experience with the future managers who are pupils at the school. The distinctive feature of Skolkovo is that it does not limit its studies to
the Russian Federation: its programmes are aimed at studying business in countries with fast- growing economies such as Russia, India, Brazil, and China (i.e. the BRIC region), and its staff of professors and teachers includes both Russian and international experts.

An educational establishment with such far-reaching ambitions could not, of course, be satisfied with renting a building (although lessons during the first years were held at the Hotel Balchug in Moscow) and from the moment of its foundation the intention was that it would have its own purpose-built complex. It was likewise clear that the building was simply obliged to be visually striking in order to symbolize the progressive character of Russian business education.

In 2005 an appropriate site was chosen for the realization of this plan — 26 hectares of former floodland in the Odintsovsky District of Moscow Region, 1 km from the Moscow Ring Road (MKAD). The school’s founders held a closed architectural competition to find the best design for the complex. The architects invited to take part included Dixon Jones, Adjaye/ Associates (both from the UK), and Santiago Calatrava. The competition brief stipulated an architectural design for the campus that would ‘underline the innovational, progressive character of the school and be founded on ideas that have arisen in Russia and have received worldwide recognition.’ In the opinion of the jury, it was David Adjaye and his team who best satisfied the terms of this brief.

The mosaics and the pieces of glass have been arranged in such a way that none of the blocks is like any other

The mosaics and the pieces of glass have been arranged in such a way that none of the blocks is like any other © Ed Reeve

 

The conference hall

The conference hall © Ed Reeve

One of the key elements in the interior design of the disc is the crater-like skylights

One of the key elements in the interior design of the disc is the crater-like skylights © Ed Reeve

Main image: © Ed Reeve