In 2006, Russian businessman and philanthropist Vladislav Doronin commissioned Zaha Hadid to design his private house on a remote plot of land in the Barvikha Forest just outside Moscow. Now, more than 10 years on, the Capital Hill Residence, the only private home designed by Hadid, is finally complete.
Doronin, who runs property companies Capital Group and OKO Group, and is also the owner of luxury hotel and resort brand Aman recalls: “I told her: 'I want to wake up in the morning and I want to just see blue sky. I don't want to see any neighbours and I want to feel free’ and she told me 'Do you realize you have to be above the trees?' and she just took a napkin and drew the sketch. I looked and I said I liked it and this is how we started on the Capital Hill project."
The residence is set into the north-facing hillside in Barvikha where natural vegetation such as pine and birch trees grow up to 20m high. Within this stunning setting, the scheme for the villa is divided into two main components. The first is strategically placed to merge with the sloping landscape, while a separate volume floats 22 metres above the ground to benefit from the vibrant views of the Barvikha forest over the trees.
The shape of the villa is informed by the natural topography. With its fluid geometries, the building emerges from the landscape while remaining partially embedded in the hillside, bringing together the existing surroundings and the artificial landscape, and making for a continuous integration of interior and exterior spaces.
The residence is vertically arranged, on four levels. The lower level or basement is envisioned as leisure space with massage and fitness areas as well as sauna and hammam baths. The ground floor contains the main living room, dining, kitchen and entertainment spaces and an indoor swimming pool. The residence’s entrance foyer, library, guests’ and children’s rooms are on the first floor, while the master bedrooms and a lounge with outside terraces occupy the upper level above the treetops.
The two main components of the house are connected by three legs. These concrete columns set up a powerful dialogue between the levels while functioning as structural elements. The vertical shafts required to house all the mechanical elements and services connecting to the upper level are contained within the legs. Incorporated within the space between the legs is the vertical circulation of the house, where a transparent glass elevator and staircase are situated, providing a direct connection between the lower and upper levels.
The main entrance to the house is located on the first floor. Within this space, the three concrete columns intersect the main roof, creating skylights and a double-height space. The view from the living room, following the grand staircase located in the entrance lobby, is framed by double-curved cast concrete structures. These concrete structures serve both a structural purpose and a functional purpose, by creating divisions between the main living room, dining room and indoor swimming pool. The main materials used in this project are pre-cast and in-situ cast concrete, steel and glass. To give the interior spaces a sense of fluid continuity, these materials are employed throughout the villa.
Hadid's former business partner Patrik Schumacher, who took over the reins of the company following her death in 2016, describes the project as a dream commission. "It's a dream house. No architect would refuse such a commission. Zaha knew Vladislav – a very stylish man – she always compared him to the Russian James Bond who had taste, wealth to create something extraordinary. This project is an absolute testament to Zaha's genius – Vladislav's genius if you like – of somebody who develops new levels of enjoying life on this planet."