A three partner-strong, dynamic architecture firm, DROM was established in 2017 by Timur Karimullin, Sofia Koutsenko, and Timur Shabaev. Bringing together architectural experiences from Russia to the United States and operating out of a main headquarters in Rotterdam, this Dutch practice is one of 20 emerging practices that comprise the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2021. 

Who: DROM

Timur Karimullin, Sofia Koutsenko, and Timur Shabaev founded DROM in 2017. The studio may be young but packs a real architectural punch, with degrees from Harvard, TU Delft, and the Berlage Institute, and professional experience at internationally acclaimed practices and organisations such as OMA/AMO under the partners’ collective belt. Indeed ‘collective’ is a key description the team uses for their work. ‘Today DROM’s team is a full-time collective of diverse international professionals and a wide network of collaborators,’ they say. 

Various design accolades, such as award wins and nominations, publications and competition wins and shortlistings, offer a glimpse of where this enterprising studio is heading. Its key built works so far have included Azatlyk, the architectural gardens and landscaping of the Central Square of Naberezhnye Chelny in Russia (created in collaboration with Strelka KB); the minimalist, scultural Tower 24, a residential high rise wrapped in white balconies in Rotterdam; and Campus, a live/work incubator for students of social interface design in Moscow (see below). 

‘The world that we aim to create is one in which the threads of complexity and interdependencies of each place are untangled, celebrated, and elevated through concrete design solutions. These places are sewn anew, bringing with them new life, the human curiosity that comes with it, and opportunity for reimagination,’ say the team, when asked to describe their vision. ‘Our projects act as catalysts to improve their existing contexts while adhering to the clients’ technical and economic constraints. We believe in the value of good design as a process, striving to achieve optimal solutions with limited resources.’

crips live work campus tower for students in Moscow

What: Campus

‘Campus is a multi-use cultural and educational space with a residential twist,’ explains the team at DROM. Built as a live/work addition to the home of founder of DesignWorkout, an educational platform for graphic design students in Moscow, this mini-tower incorporates space for working and resting – so inhabitants live, work, study, play and collaborate for a week there, inside and outside the Campus building. 

While its educational mission is serious, the project’s design is fun and playful. It was created to look ‘like a bookcase providing simple functionally designed spaces that reflect the various daily activities of the participants’, explain the architects. Made out of wood, it also showcases real craftsmanship in its structure, while providing a warm and inviting environment for the resident students. 

Just like in a ‘simple’ residence, light, orientation and the relationship of indoors and outdoors were all important. ‘The internal spatial relations and the openings towards the surroundings are carefully positioned in order to secure privacy while also allowing openness,’ explain the DROM team. ‘It is a means of curating the relationships between the participants and their daily activities on the one hand and securing the private home life of the founder of the platform on the other hand.’

timber interior at campus project for students in Moscow by DROM

Why: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2021

Conceived in 2000 as our index of emerging architectural talent, the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our magazine’s annual listing of promising practices from across the globe. The project has, over the years, spanned styles and continents, while always championing the best and most exciting young studios and showcasing inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. Now including more than 500 alumni and counting, the Architects’ Directory is back for its 21st edition. Join us as we launch this year’s survey – 20 young studios, from Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the USA, and the UK, with plenty of promise, ideas and exciting architecture.

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timber clad interior at live work student space in Moscow designed by DROM