Complex and contradictory in its programme, a mixed-use building combining offices, exhibition space, a conference centre, restaurant, fitness complex and other facilities demands simplicity in form. All these are housed in MATREX, the main public building at the Skolkovo Innovation Centre, designed by BERNASKONI with a consortium of leading world specialists.
Built in a form of a truncated pyramid with a matryoshka-shaped internal void, MATREX’s symbolic architecture embodies power (the pyramid) and art (the Russian nesting doll, or matryoshka). Its name is a synthesis of the words matryoshka, matrix and rex (Latin ‘king’).
The external envelope of the pyramid conceals a space within with the contours of a matryoshka. These two forms comprise a large array of functions. The matryoshka contains a 500-metre long museum spiral and a transformer hall. The body of the pyramid houses start-up offices, a café, foyer and other functions. By day, the monolithic geometry of the outer pyramid is what most strikes the eye about MATREX. By night, internal lighting reveals the minimalist form of the doll within.
The combination of matryoshka and pyramid proclaims the building’s programme and a succinct idea. While the pyramid is a global symbol of power and rationality, with its harsh geometry and functionality, the matryoshka is a national arts and crafts motif, and thus irrational, soft, and less geared towards the purely functional.
Symbolically and structurally, the two forms work as two envelopes, supporting and leaning on each other. Their interface constitutes the chief difficulty engineering-wise, but is most interesting in terms of space and building programme. Informal places arise at their juncture, midway between the office-factory square and the arena of art exhibitions.
The pyramid itself is the most simplified form of matryoshka, and the least complex form of rectangular prism. It is the matryoshka of modern architecture.
Additional Credits: Boris Bernaskoni BERNASKONI
Credits: - BERNASKONI - Head Architect - Boris Bernaskoni