The renewed Estonian Embassy in Moscow opens today. Four and a half years of intense designing and construction supervision for a site of such historic and political importance as the Moscow Embassy was an intriguing challenge.
The slate was not clean, neither spatially nor mentally. Estonians have been using this building for nearly a century. Notional and physical layers from different periods are fascinatingly recognisable. The spaciousness of what used to be a rich merchant’s mansion (the older section, designed in 1903) juxtaposes itself with the low ceilings in a former Soviet-era guest house (i.e. the newer section or the annexe, completed in 1982).
The building was already there but it needed to be modernised in spatial terms with emphases on highlighting the dignity and grandeur of the older section and creating a space where Estonia’s representatives in Moscow could do their work. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is an expert client who knows the exact functions of the building, the exact needs and requirements.
The building stretches through the entire block, the old section being situated at Malyy Kislovskiy pereulok while the annexe extends towards Kalashnyy pereulok. Our job was to provide a more detailed solution for the interface between the two volumes and to bring more light and roominess into the central part of the building. The two sections are now interconnected with a new broad staircase, large panelled doors worthy of Moscow’s scale and an airy skylighted space.
Classic buildings at Kislovskiy street in Moscow are traditionally painted light blue. However, on the basis of historic paint sampling and analysis, we decided to make the old section’s exterior ochre, which matches up with the dolomite façades of the new part and the natural oak window frames throughout the building.
The interior architecture is rendered warm and lively by herringbone oak parquet used on the walls. The numerous art gems and furniture preserved in the building are like a cross-section of the embassy’s history, which is now thematically reflected in the interior design in the form of different environments where period details serve to represent former systems of rule and social circumstances. For example, we have pieced together stylistically authentic rooms here on the model of those of the early days of the Republic of Estonia. A playful approach of such kind has resulted in narrative rooms that can respectfully exhibit the preserved furniture and works of art while meeting the requirements for a modern working environment. The truly festive and beautiful ballroom will be used to host Estonian Independence Day receptions with nearly 300 guests every year.
Our thanks go to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Riigi Kinnisvara AS and Nordeo E AS.