The avant-garde artist-architect Alexander Konstantinov is better known in the West than in Russia. One of his latest bright projects is bus stops in Japan. There will be 53 in total, the first ones have already been built
May 21, 2018Facades made of metal slats play in the sun. At the slightest change in lighting – a tiny cloud in the sky – static forms change like trees in the wind, only without moving.
A mathematician by education, an artist by vocation, an architect by work realized in Russia, America and Europe. Alexander Konstantinov knows how to make the unreal real and vice versa.
Whatever he creates – giant paintings from strips of colored tape or houses made of metal, the result is the same: a material object turns into a mirage filled with philosophical meaning, from which it is impossible to look away.
One of the master’s latest bright projects is bus stops in Suzu, Japan.
A modern structure with a hinged metal profile façade, pagoda-inspired tiled roofs appear to float in the air.
ELLE DECORATION The façades of these stops evoke the slanting lines of rain slicing through the sky. “The artist who paints the rain” – is this about you?
ALEXANDER KONSTANTINOVRather, an artist who paints a forest. The Russian public often takes my facades for scaffolding (laughs). The starting point of this project was the famous prints of Hiroshige. There will be fifty-three stops in total. Four have already been built on the Noto Peninsula, which is washed by the Sea of Japan. The geometry of the facades reflects the elements of rain, fog, wind and travel; image of trees, grass and light. I took the existing stops as a basis, then painted them black with my own hands and the hands of local artists, creating a background for “shading”.
The artist strokes the sky with metal like drops of slanting rain, this is how avant-garde architecture is born.
How did you get this order in Japan?
The Tokyo Art Front Gallery invited me to take part in the Oku-Noto Triennial held in Suzu. I expressed the idea of making not just an art object, but something useful for local residents. For example, bus stops.
Who do you consider yourself an artist or an architect?
Also a landscape designer. In Turn Park, Massachusetts, a park and the Gate House building were built according to my project, and now sculptures are being created.
Remind me of your other high-profile projects.
I don’t know about the “loud” ones, I haven’t built a concert hall yet. The most “energy” project is the ECSO power plant. The longest is a two-kilometer railroad fence. The youth hostel. All three projects were implemented in Luxembourg in cooperation with BENG Architects.
What determined choice of materials and technologies?
The name of the area – Suzu – is formed by two hieroglyphs “coral” and “pearl”. The stops are made of aluminum held together with tens of thousands of rivets. The edges of aluminum profiles catch and reflect light even in the darkness of the night and shine like mother-of-pearl shells.
It is often said that the most relevant objects of world design and architecture are rooted in the art of the Russian avant-garde. Do you feel this connection?
Of course. My first foreign exhibition, held in the Austrian Liechtenstein Palace in 1994, was called Direct and Reverse Perspective of Russian Minimalism. Lyubov Popova – Alexander Konstantinov.
And finally, when can we expect your projects in Russia?
Now the construction of a residential complex in Obninsk is being completed, for which I made a drawing of facades and a landscape as part of the Yauzaproekt architectural bureau. And the construction of the “House with a mezzanine” begins in a grove on the Volga.