Architects: Robin Monotti Architects
Location: Crimea, Ukraine
Design Team: Robin Monotti Graziadei, Fannar Haraldsson
Structural Engineer: Gennadiy Gyrushta
Main Contractor: Igor Shutkin
Area: 875 sqm
Photographs: Ioana Marinescu
London based Robin Monotti Architects completed ‘Yacht House’ in September 2012. The 875 sq m contemporary building creates an outstanding feature on the Crimean shoreline. It houses four rental apartments arranged around tall yacht storage at ground level, and connected by a staircase tower. The apartments provide spectacular views across the sea and the mountains, and a direct and immediate connection to the coastal environment that surrounds them.
In 2011 Robin Monotti’s Ukranian client acquired the site which lies within the Foros Shore resort owned by the Donetsk Steel Group. With a Mediterranean-like climate and dramatic scenery, the Crimea is known as the Russian Riviera. Foros is located at the southernmost tip of the Crimea, along the most sought after 30 km band of coastline in the Ukraine. Because of its enduring popularity, the area has a rich political and architectural heritage. Neighbours include the dachas of former USSR president Gorbachev and current Ukrainian president Yanukovich, and close by are magnificent palaces and churches from the Tsarist era.
Yacht House is a contemporary response to Russia’s dacha tradition. Robin Monotti’s design is uncompromisingly modern, but also open, playful and people focussed. This is important for a country that remembers the repressive Soviet regime and its association with brutalist architecture.
The client initially required winter storage space for his 13 metre yacht. The client then decided to add three rental apartments and captain’s accommodation to make the most of the outstanding site. A significant challenge was how to design the building so that the apartments were not overpowered by the massive door required for the yacht. Other challenges were presented by a steeply sloping site in a seismically active area, and its proximity to the sea which in bad weather could drench the house in corrosive salt water.
The design commenced with a yacht room 7 metres wide, 15 metres deep and 6 metres high on the ground floor giving access via a 25’ door to a railed slipway in front. To balance the 25’ door and enable dramatic, unrestricted views across the Black Sea, Robin Monotti proposed three distinctive volumes above and beside the tall boat house. By offsetting the volumes, the design provided a variety of terraces at different levels, extensive views and outdoor access.
“Yacht house is an organic composition” explains Monotti. “We started with the box for the boat, then added accommodation alongside, terraces, and finally the stair tower. But ultimately the building is about the nearness of the sea and the huge skies. We wanted people to experience their surroundings – the sound of the water, the sea winds, the changing light and moods, the changing temperatures, even the salty taste in the air – as if they were already on a yacht”.
The outside is brought inside by 9 metre wide floor to ceiling windows in the main apartments which provide almost seamless seascapes. When the bi-folding doors are fully open the interior living spaces feel like shaded outdoor spaces. Porthole windows continue the marine theme.
Glass railings to all balconies and terraces allow for uninterrupted views, and a shared 135 sq m solarium terrace on the fourth floor provides 360 degree views of the sea and the Crimean Mountains behind. A variety of different outdoor terraces and balconies offer contrasting views over the surrounding landscape.
A tall stair tower links the floors and, with its slit-like windows, recalls the nearby defensive Genoese fortifications of Balaklava. The narrow windows restrict light and views so that surprise and delight is enhanced when the main living areas, with their astounding light and views, are entered from the tower. The slit windows also provide privacy on the side of the building that faces the resort.
The captain’s accommodation and the first floor flat provide studio accommodation, with two bedroom apartments on the third and fourth floor. The flats are fully furnished with high quality white Italian furniture.
The building is constructed of reinforced concrete throughout to make the structure capable of withstanding earthquakes and to provide additional protection against winter storms. There was a conscious effort to reduce light pollution in the outside areas. It was important that the focus for guests at night time would be on the natural landscape, in order for them to witness the reflection of the moon, stars and sea. An influx in outside lighting would restrict guests from engaging with nature and the surrounding landscape. Off-white paint was chosen for the exterior of the building in order to absorb the least amount of solar radiation possible, as well as to enhance the visibility of the building. Porthole windows to the sides of the building provide cross ventilation.