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About architectural project Primorsky Aquarium

Research and Educational Centre «Primorsky Aquarium», peninsula Zhitkova, Russkiy Island in Vladivostok.

Summary: ​ Research and Educational Centre «Primorsky Aquarium» in Vladivostok was designed by the order of Federal State Unitary Enterprise "Management of the construction in the Far East," the Russian President's administration.
General Manager: Andrey Poplawsky.

General Project Company: ​  OJSC Primorgrajdanproekt
​CEO: Evgeniy Melnikov

Project Leader: Igor Moskalenko
Author: Yulia Otlyachkina
Author of the night light and landscape: Sergey Skobelev
Main Architects: Igor Moskalenko, Yulia Otlyachkina, Victor Zaycev, Anna Ushakova, Sergey Skobelev
Master plan: Nadejda Ponomareva​
Architects who also worked on the project: Alina Mizevich, Elena Maximova, Irina Baruzdina

Engineering company: NPO MOSTOVIK, Ltd.
CEO: Oleg Shishov

TEAM OF DESIGN ENGINEERS is about 25people
Technical Lead: Nikolay Khokhlov
Main design engineers: Anatoly Baal, Shakrt Sultanov, Svetlana Pyazing, Margarita Churkina and others

Life support system/ Design exposition: Huang's Green Country Industrial Co., Ltd.

General contractor: NPO MOSTOVIK, LTD.
CEO: Oleg Shishov

The complex is located in Vladivostok on Russkiy Island, peninsula Zhitkova. It includes the main, research and supporting buildings. The land area of the complex is 94.7 Hectares.
The landscape includes an artificial river with a waterfall, a lake with lotus flowers, parks and small architectural forms. The main element of the complex is the main building which is formed of two parts. There is an aquarium on the south-west side and a dolphinarium on the north-eastern side.

General specification of the main building:
Total floor area: 34,539.41 m2
Building volume: 358,862.0 m3
Building area: 13,704.0 m2
number of storeys:
aquarium 5
dolphinarium 4

A bit prehistory.
The first project of the Primorsky aquarium. Patrokl Bay:
​Primorsky Aquarium had several projects. Initially it was planned to build near the Patrokl Bay on mainland of Vladivostok in 2004. This project was also made by architects of OJSC PRIMORGRAJDANPROEKT, but another department with project leader Victoria Dzyuba. There were designed a conceptual stage, design development and approval documents. At that time OJSC PRIMORGRAJDANPROEKT made a contract with New Zealand company Marinescape for their participation in the project of the Primorsky aquarium.​

In 2006 the documentation development of the first project stopped at the approval documents stage. In early 2007 it was officially decided to move the object on Russkiy Island.
The client refused Marinescape’ participation and signed an agreement with Taiwanese company - Huang's Green Country Industrial Co., Ltd.

The second project of the Primorsky aquarium. Russkiy Island:
According to the contract the entire project must have been designed by Huang's Green Country Industrial Co., Ltd. And OJSC PRIMORGRAJDANPROEKT should have done the adaptation of the Taiwanese design for the Russian Inspection and construction.
The first concept by the Taiwanese architects of Huang's Green Country Industrial Co., Ltd was introduced in July 2008:

The client understood that the Taiwanese company could have delayed the documentation release and gave the task to OJSC PRIMORGRAJDANPROEKT to design the project because the company was the General Project Company.

For me it all started with a sketch in September 2008 when the Manager of our department Igor Moskalenko came to the architect's room and gave the job to Alina Mizevich, Andrey Bazhan and I to think up the concept for the aquarium. Each of the options could have been developed, but after discussion my version was the preferred choice. It looked very different from the final result.
My concept:

Work was continued.
The Taiwanese architects developed their project a bit more by December 2008:

The agreement meant that the project should have been a joint work of the Taiwanese and Russian companies. The client ordered to base on the Taiwanese plans of exposition and develop them according to the task. By April 2009 our company released conceptual design of the Primorsky aquarium which was made by myself and was absolutely different from the Taiwanese project.
Conceptual design of the Primorsky aquarium by OJSC PRIMORGRAJDANPROEKT:

In Regional competition of the best architectural works - 2010 in Vladivostok we took 4th place.

Far East Festival of Architecture -2010 Khabarovsk 1st place for the main building of the project

Grand prix 'Master' for the built 'Primorskiy aquarium' in Far East Festival of Architecture, Khabarovsk 2016.

I also made sketches of the auxiliary research building to match the complex, but the client preferred the Taiwanese architecture.
Once again time came up to show the results of work on plans and facades in August 2009
Taiwanese project at that time:

All this time our work was going as a contest, two architectural projects were being developed by Russia and Taiwan at the same time. The client required us to work on plans and shape, because OJSC PRIMORGRAJDANPROEKT, general project company, was responsible for the deadline of project documentation. Taiwan delayed the release of actual materials for own reasons, however time to give tasks for structural engineers was running out and the contractor had almost prepared the construction site.
There was no time for a standard designing. In this situation the Taiwan company turned out to be incompetent in most questions: architectural, structural, heating and ventilation systems and other related parts of project.

During the design process one of client's wishes was for a sea shell in the image of the building as it was in first project in Patrokl bay. But this concept seemed to me bad idea because the dolphinarium would be the north-faced where would not be enough sunlight. Then I decided to turn inside the shape to avoid the huge dark cold overhangs. However, the Taiwanese architects used previous idea from the first project as far as they could.
Also the client liked my solution of main entrance and Taiwanese architects were forced to use this method.

By December 2009 there were done two projects of one building with similar plans for municipal architectural council.


My main aims were views from human height, from landscape, views from the sea, because basic spectator would be on the ground, not on a helicopter. For me there was no sense to impress the audience of Google map’s photos by roof size and its multi colouring.
At the same time with search of the shape there was work on plans. The building area of 35000m2 was divided into five fire compartments. Each of architects developed the compartment. Architects on this stage: Igor Moskalenko, Victor Zaycev, Anna Ushakova, Yulia Otlyachkina, Alina Mizevich. My compartment included research laboratories, administrative part and part of exposition and this was located on two floors.
The complexity of this project was that it consisted not only of the exposition of the marine world, but also scientific, educational, recreational, administrative parts which had to be placed under one roof not in any order, but according to our complicated and important Building Codes.
Perhaps this is why the Taiwanese architects were unable to cope with the architectural problems, not only with harmonic form of a building, but also with the plans, as they did not realize how important a clear division into fire compartments, the sunlight in rooms and offices, large areas for ventilation chambers, conformity of plans with the statement of work, not intersected flows of audience, staff, researchers, etc.
 All these problems were being solved by our architects according to our building code and the unique climate of Vladivostok, while the Taiwanese designers continued developing the exposition design and life support systems, thereby setting the outline of plans.
As it turned out none expert who did not live in a cold climate, had no idea how to design in such locality.

Approval documents stage was developing into construction documentation. NPO MOSTOVIK, LTD., became not only the general contractor, but also, as an engineering company, it is one of the largest Russian design and construction companies. The only one at the time, which had had the necessary resources to design and construct such a significant building.
The main team of design engineers were about 25 people led by Nikolay Khokhlov.
By the summer of 2010
the client and the Deputy of CEO of NPO MOSTOVIK, LTD., Dmitry Mingalev chose the Russian version of the building, as the best of the represented. And construction documentation of the project was being developed in one variant since then.
In October 2011 OJSC PRIMORGRAJDANPROEKT sent the project to the competition in Moscow, but we did not win any prizes there:

Another difficulty was the design during construction.
Overall, the work was complex because of the uniqueness of the project: huge building with lots of functions inside, a harsh climate outside and unusual form.

5 March 2013

© Yulia Otlyachkina, 2005—2016