Architectural landmark Matrex joins Moscow’s Skolkovo tech park

A black and white spiral
Moscow based architect Boris Bernaskoni has unveiled his latest mixed use project, entitled Matrex.
(Image credit: Olga Melekestseva)

Set at the heart of Moscow's Skolkovo Innovation Centre – the city's dedicated business and innovation technology park – Matrex rises above its neighbours like a towering pyramid. The brainchild of Russian architect Boris Bernaskoni, this is not only a hard-to-miss, new architectural symbol for the wider complex; it is also an architectural exercise about bridging opposites and uniting different worlds through architecture. 

Conceived as a truly mixed-use building, Matrex was designed to house from a series of office spaces for business start-ups, to a museum and exhibition areas, a conference centre, a restaurant, and a fitness centre. 

Bernaskoni, whose relatively young but extremely dynamic practice is also behind works such as the ARC Pavilion in Nikola-Lenivets and a masterplan for New Holland Island activities in St Petersburg, leapt at the opportunity to take the challenge on and created an iconic shape that is set to become a visual shorthand for the whole Skolkovo development. His previous experience in the area included Hypercube, the first ever building to complete in the tech park (in 2012), and a multifunctional building too; albeit a rather different one, all transformable screens and new media references. 

The Skolkovo Innovation Centre

The new build structure is located in Moscow's business and technology park, Skolkovo Innovation Centre.

(Image credit: Valery Katsuba)

With Matrex, Bernaskoni went for an approach designed to underline the multifunctional nature of the building's programme through a single, strong concept. He created a monolithic, pyramidal overall shape, clad in glass. This hides a much softer, curvier void inside, which can only be clearly seen during the night, when the building is dramatically illuminated from within. ‘There’s a humanitarian message in this project', he points out. ‘What’s the main thing in architecture? Many believe it’s a wall or a form. This isn’t true! The most important thing is what’s found between the walls. It’s something you never see, but only feel when you move around inside an object and are impressed by it.'

This way, he explains, the structure is both strong, through the sharp shape of the pyramid, and artful, through the connotations a matryoshka brings – since the building is quite literally many buildings within a building in the style of the famous Russian nesting doll. ‘When you look at Matrex, you see a pyramid by day and a matryoshka by night', continues Bernaskoni. ‘Optically, these are two shapes of contrasting geometry, but in the language of architecture, the pyramid is a geometric simplification of the form of the matryoshka'.

A photo of the building at night with lights on across all floors.

The impressive project incorporates office space, a museum, a restaurant and a multifunctional space for events.

(Image credit: Ilya Ivanov)

Inside the the Skolkovo Innovation Centre

Shaped like a giant pyramid, the structure was designed as a key focal point for the Skolkovo Innovation Centre.

(Image credit: Olga Melekestseva)

Overlooking a circular auditorium.

Its strong, hard exterior shape is contradicted by its softer, curvier interior, a contrast that echoes the huge variety in uses that it houses.

(Image credit: Bernaskoni)

A corridor with a grey colour scheme.

Part of the interior will be dedicated to offices for business start-ups.

(Image credit: Bernaskoni)

An elevator with the stairwell on either side.

A clean and easily legible circulation area in naked concrete connects the different parts of the building.

(Image credit: Olga Melekestseva)

INFORMATION

For more information visit the Boris Bernaskoni website (opens in new tab)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).