Tchoban Voss Architekten transforms a former and historic factory building and creates Russia’s first corteen steel covered office building

Saint Petersburg, Russia

“Before embarking on a new construction project, we always approach the specific urban situation as something unique and valuable in itself. This is what produces unique architectural solutions. The surrounding urban context guides us to the best possible result, which may be contrasting or discreet, massive or light and delicate,” explain Sergei Tchoban and Ekkehard Voss, founders of Tchoban Voss Architekten.

Ferrum 1 by Tchoban Voss Architekten

Tchoban Voss Architekten’s Ferrum 1 is a seven-story business center standing on the historic site of the former Rossiya factory in St Petersburg’s Polustrovo district, whose name derives from the material used in the structuring of the façade, but is also a reference to the history of the former industrial site on which the new building was erected.

Ferrum 1 has recently been awarded a 2022 International Architecture Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

For more than ten years now, the former industrial site has been undergoing extensive redevelopment under the direction of the development company Teorema.

Ferrum 1 by Tchoban Voss Architekten

Tchoban Voss Architekten has already realized the multifunctional commercial campus House Benois (2008), the office complex Seasons-Ensemble (2013), and the residential complex Five Stars (2016) on this site. Opposite Ferrum 1 (Block 16), Ferrum 2 (Block 17) is being built with an identical façade solution and a landscaped inner courtyard.

This corrosion-resistant and extremely durable building material with its characteristic rust-red patina and velvety texture give the building a particularly striking, expressive appearance.

The theme of materiality, one of the most important aspects of architecture, was the focus when designing the façade.

The name of the office building is “Ferrum,” from the Latin word for iron.

Ferrum 1 by Tchoban Voss Architekten

The sculptural façade is constructed in a geometric grid and presents itself as a coherent, dynamic, organically flowing fabric of loose “warp and weft” threads.

Three-dimensional stripes span the rectangular building both horizontally and vertically.

The alternation of flat and protruding modules creates the illusion of a plaiting.

Viewed from the side, the horizontal lines at the intersections of the strips sometimes seem to dive beneath the vertical lines and vice versa.

At the corners of the building, delicate structural glazing alternates with the sharp-edged folds of the Corten, thus the steel seems to play around a body of the glass.

Ferrum 1 by Tchoban Voss Architekten

The building is crowned by a band of golden aluminum panels, whose sheen visually offsets the intense coloring of the main façade cladding. 

“Rust on the outside, gold on the inside” is Ferrum’s central design theme.

The building’s main entrance is marked by a large portal, and the central foyer features double-sided structural glass that fills this space with light and visually connects it to the surrounding park. 

The color design of all foyers follows a two-tone concept, with the theme of ‘gold on the inside’ coming into play.

Thus, shiny gold lift portals alternate with metal surfaces in cold grey.

The wall coverings are made of printed glass.

Project: Ferrum 1
Architects: Tchoban Voss Architekten BDA
Lead Architects: Sergei Tchoban and Ekkehard Voss
Design Team: Valeria Kashirina, Natalia von Kruechten, René Hoch, Puk Paludan, and Evgenia Sulaberidze
General Contractor: Teorema
Business Park Polustrovo Ltd.
Client: Teorema Business Park Polustrovo Ltd.
Photographers: Ilya Ivanov