Photo: Goga Mamasakhlisi

Pharamaceutical HQ

This building works like an architectural lever -- along both horizontal and vertical planes. The design relies upon the principle of juxtaposition -- but results in a singular body of architecture. The plot and context are wildly complex and the building is highly responsive to these.


The building is located on a very tight site, surrounded by residential blocks, a music school and a nursery school, in Moscow’s historic city centre, off Arbat Street, which is the main, pedestrianised shopping street running for almost one kilometre through the city.

Architects of Invention's work involved the complete demolition of an existing 4-storey office block, replacing it with a new 7-storey office building with a single level underground car park and public space at the base of the building.

The site boundary defined the shape of the building in plan, suggesting two rectilinear volumes - that are merged with an angular rotation and served by a common lift, occupying the liminal angular space between volumes. The façade responds to and emphasises the meeting point of the two blocks with an altered, diagonal rhythm of  Jura marble fins that covers the building.  Window panels are recessed from the fins by 40cm to give privacy and deflect solar glare.

The different heights of the buildings’ volumes create an interesting visual tension, as well as ensuring observation of local rights of light and showing sensitivity to local context in terms of the surrounding buildings.  Thus the 7-storey volume responds to the higher blocks behind it, while the lower invites access via the courtyard, drawing attention to the entrance as there is no direct street access. Sunken terraces to the east and the west of the building can be accessed from the lobby.

A double-height lobby features an eight-metre long reception desk with a hot-desking facility area. There are sunken terraces to the East and the West of the building with access from the lobby. AI designed ‘Pringle’ light fittings in lightweight, translucent acrylic, which diffuses and reflects the downlighting above. The stairs, floor surfaces and reception desk are finished in Jura marble; the walls are finished with white, back-painted glass panels.

The first floor office cantilevers over the lobby.  The four floors above are for the main staff body.  The seventh floor is dedicated to senior management and has an outdoor terrace with views over Moscow.


The building refers to the values of ancient Greek canonical architecture with its simplicity, modesty, regularity, repetition and the singularity of its materiality. The building is arguably neo-classical but at the same time very contemporary in its setting and context.

The building's beauty is in its plan and its appearance. It is a singular "mass" of stone responding to the very tight conditions of the typologically and materially different buildings around it. It has very strong, but at the same time very subtle, presence. The architectural expression is dispersed by its uniform rythmic marble facade grid, emphasised by diagonal breakpoints at the juxtaposition of the building volumes. The breakpoints  accentuate the dynamic relationship of the volumes suggesting organic transition of the facade grid.

The building uses an innovative facade system of Jura marble veneer fixed to ceramic tiles. This system is used here for the first time in Russia.

The building is appealing to the local architectural community,  who value the cohesive nature of European architectural culture and expression (such as Mies van de Rohe's aphorism 'Less is more'). The building shows the strength and integrity in its design, materials and quality of collaboration.

Project Details
20a Zemledelcheski per. 119121 Moscow
7000 m²
Engenuiti, Fioravanti
EUMiesAward2019 Nominee, Golden Section 2019
Luis Fernandez Bautista, Dominykas Daunis, Davit Canava, Carmen Gallano, Magdalini Giannakidi, Bathilde Hamonic, Inaki Hernandez, Nikoloz Japaridze, Anton Khmelnitskiy, Ivane Ksnelashvili, Daniel Lareau, Nikita Tsymbal