The New Face Of Office Space: Crystal City, Moscow


Modernism is a thing of the last century. We’ve learnt what we needed to learn (empty space is nice, boxes are a bit dull, and so on) and we’re ready to push our architecture in a different direction.

And what’s the direction? Learning from the best. Although many modernist designers were keen to utilise natural lighting, ventilation and heating, the look of modernism is all about rebellion against ornate traditional styles (Gothic, for example). You rebel by standing out – as with Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye – and the best way to stand out is to look unnatural. The rebellion against that kind of thing came in the form of organic architecture, as championed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

But if we look around our cities today, the big winner has been modernism – mainly for practical reasons. Maybe there’s the occasional Gherkin here and there, but our skylines are still decidedly artificial-looking. Now, that’s about to change”¦because you can’t get much more organic-looking than Crystal Island. Rising 450 metres from street level like a pulled cobweb, this structure will house apartments, offices, a school, shops, exhibition and conference rooms, and of course people – up to 30,000 of them, estimates Justin Thomas of MetaEfficient.

Power will come from solar and wind energy, and airflow will be carefully regulated to cool in the summer and insulate in the winter. With over a million square metres of floor space, it will be the largest building in the world. It’s fun to speculate that within our own lifetimes, business architects will have to come up with a new phrase for office buildings – because block won’t fit anymore.

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.