Architectural landmark Matrex joins Moscow’s Skolkovo tech park
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.
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’. §