Russian architect Alex Nerovnya: modern housing begins with a location

February 9, 2021

"Structum" Editorial office.

Alex Nerovnya architecture from Russia will participate in the conference “DNA of Modern Homes” in February 11th. His designs are guided by fundamental principles of honest minimalism, alliance with the environment, energy efficiency and universal accessibility. 

Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did architecture come into your life?

My name is Alex Nerovnya, a leader of a team of 5 designers and architects of various specializations based in Moscow, Russia. Our main focus is in conceptual design of private villas and country houses. Sometimes we take up projects of small office and apartment buildings up to 3 floors.

Since a very young age I’ve enjoyed sketching imaginary houses, roads and cities. There was never anything special or genius about these drawings, but it surely was my favorite topic for art.

I can’t say that figuring out my passions and the professional direction I want to go in happened quickly and effortlessly. I have always enjoyed the general professional sphere of architecture and construction, when I was in high school, I would spend hours watching massive construction sites in Moscow.

It was not until I enrolled into one of undergraduate programs in the Moscow Architectural Institute that I managed to solidify my passions into a somewhat definite direction of architectural design.

Maybe you can single out some of your projects? What architectural principles do you follow when designing a house or dwelling?

We have a few favorite projects, many of which were included in our first artbook, released at the end of 2019 – SOL House, AMBER House, YUKON House. Also, apart from the artbook, we enjoyed working on a proposal to rebuild the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral and on the TESLA House, which was largely inspired by the design thinking of Tesla Cybertruck.

What is a modern, modern house for you? How do you think the perception of modern, smart housing in the world is different? For example, in the west and east?

A modern house in our understanding is the simplest structure, assembled according to the canons of minimalism, without unnecessary forms, details and historical methods of facade decoration. We also believe that natural lighting should play a large role in modern houses, and therefore, they should have a large glazing area in order to use natural light in the interior as much as possible. If we conditionally divide the world into Western and Eastern countries, then we can say the following:

– In the west, a modern house is, first of all, a smart, technologically advanced and energy-efficient house, which has some transformable elements, maybe movable elements of the roof and facades. Also an important element is its ability to be energy efficient through the use of modern thermal insulation solutions and alternative energy sources.

– A modern house in the east has similar characteristics in terms of technological construction and functionality of the house. However, in many countries, mainly in Asia and the Middle East, this thinking is complemented with a series of privacy and climate considerations, which influence the way the modern technologies are used to not only make the house stylish and energy efficient, but also to adapt it to unique climate conditions and cultural demands.

Let’s talk about modern architecture. Do you think that the design of housing does not pay too much attention to technology? Or vice versa – people still think too little about home innovation?

Ultramodern architecture in general and the principles of designing modern residential interiors are not for everyone. The reason for this is a special look at interior and facade decor, the distribution of the interior space of the
house and the principles of interaction with the environment. Those 3D renderings of beautiful modern houses that we see on Instagram and at architectural exhibitions look so good only because the environment is individually selected for them, and the interior is designed for a specific audience of residents. In the real world, the overwhelming majority of people who would like to live in such a modern house do not have the opportunity to build it in such a picturesque environment, they need a different layout, the same energy efficiency solutions cannot be used in their climatic zone, etc. For example, in my house I deliberately did not use practically any “smart home” technologies. I feel that the automation and digitalization of everything in my life relaxes me too much and allows me to be lazy when it’s not worth doing. For example, I am in favor of automating some household processes, but rather against controlling lights, shutters and locks on doors from a smartphone.

What should you think about first in order to install a modern home? What must be in our home today? And what should be avoided?

Modern beautiful housing begins with a location. The stylish environment itself does most of the work in creating the correct aesthetics of the future building, and it is thanks to it that it will be possible to use some of the principles of modern architecture – a large glazing area, visual connection with the environment, an abundance of natural light.

When choosing the type of construction, foundation, frame, glazing, thermal insulation, one should pay attention to innovative solutions at each stage of design. Their implementation will make the house lighter, more energy efficient, and easier to maintain. One of the principles of modern minimalism, which we adhere to, is the absence of unnecessary areas and spaces inside the house, as well as open spaces in the interior. These decisions, of course, are influenced by the climate and the tasks of a particular owner, however, in almost any conditions it is possible to develop well-thought-out solutions that keep up with the times.

Do you think that housing in 50 years will be very different from the current ones?

I don’t think it will differ much. Over the past thousand years, people have practically not changed the basic forms and ergonomics of their homes. The form factor and functionality of private housing will remain the same, but the technologies that implement this form factor will change. We expect that super-thermoregulatory films, light plastic glasses that are not inferior in their ability to insulate walls of a house, as well as further automation of home functions and a deeper introduction of the “Internet of Things” will come into use.

What projects are you currently working on?

We are simultaneously working on a number of projects around the world – these are private villas in Luxembourg, Canada, Saudi Arabia, an eco-hotel in Kazakhstan, and a luxury rental in California. Whenever possible, we try to use the principles that we talked about above in each of the projects. I must say that the different climatic zones, mentality, outlook on life and financial capabilities of our clients are a great opportunity to train in creating modern solutions adapted to any task.

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2022 February 2

David Mami

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