“The largest modern integrated district of the country will be created in Dnipro city” – interview with Mykola Kabluka about the “Ermolaev Center” project
Информатор  30 March 2021

As you know, the construction of the magnificent multi-purpose complex “Ermolaev Center” started in the heart of Dnipro city in 2020. Even now there is an opinion that this complex will turn the central part of the city into Ukrainian City like in London.

Moreover, it will become the new achievement of the modern architecture not only in our city, but in Ukraine in general. The project of this complex is implemented by the developer Alef Estate which announces the start of the complex sale in May 2021.

The architects of the project, Serhii Filimonov and Natalia Kashyrina told us before that the “Ermolaev Center” project was created by the example of the Scandinavian architecture which is well-built, high-quality, and laconic.
Now we referred to the company which is the author of the project of multi-purpose complex illumination. We had a talk with the founder and the chief light designer of the Expolight company, Mykola Kabluka in order to find out how the architectural and light design will help to emphasize the ideas developed by the authors in the architectural project.

 How do you estimate the “Ermolaev Center” project and which approach was used in the creation of the illumination project?

 Good architecture is distinctive in that it has some sense and social message. This is not about the form of the facility; this is about its emotion; it thinks in terms of the categories “be happy” and “be comfortable” in order to make “noisily and joyfully” or “cozily”, or “meditatively and aesthetically beautiful”. The architecture creates certain environment. And the light is its catalyst and enhancer of the environment. And the correctly created illumination interacts with the things formed by the architect in the architecture. It may “wipe off” the architect`s idea or enhance it vice versa.

 Like the architects of this project, we also love Copenhagen, Danish culture and architecture very much. We like this style. And we like the fact that “Ermolaev Center” is the entire complex with its pedestrian spaces. Currently there is a common situation, especially in Kyiv city, when the absolutely similar facilities are constructed as parts of the large complex; they differ only in the way that they are either turned variously or there are somewhat less/more storeys. And this looks like “stuck” similar facilities. And “Ermolaev Center” is interesting; it is well-developed. The common ideology of the building was elaborated but they are still different.

There is certain “standard” and level set by the environment created by the investor Vadym Iermolaiev and the architectural bureau “Dolnik and Co”. This is probably the favorite boulevard of the city, Katerynoslavskyi boulevard. It is surrounded with the high-quality modern architecture – “Cascade Plaza”, “Bosphorus”, and “Enigma”. And “Ermolaev Center” will be its continuation. We are very pleased that this is the true center of Dnipro city. Probably this will be
the most large-scale modern integrated district in Ukraine with high-quality modern architecture, with understanding of urban planning and the pedestrian boulevards rather than just “buildings with the square meters”. I am very proud and glad of it due to the fact that these are the particular places because of which people stay to live in Dnipro city.

Though this sounds like spiel of the place where we live but I see certain parallels with the City in London. This is the quote of the modern real estate development impressing and containing various interesting facilities. There they are – large, high-quality, and well-arranged. This is the place where it is nice to work, to live, and to relax. It is the great advantage for Dnipro city.

It is nice to observe certain “renaissance” in Dnipro currently when the trends of the early noughties revived (Dnipro city was ahead of the average level of the modern architecture in Ukraine, including Kyiv city in those days). Our city served as the example in many aspects. It was time when Alef Estate created Katerynoslavskyi boulevard and the facilities located there. Vadym Iermolaiev was the ideologist and the first person who was ready to invest into such modern architecture rather than to make more profit with the use of the square meters.

Currently, this place turns into the entire full-scale district attracting the interest of the other developers who look to this level already. It will be very interesting to come here at least from all over Ukraine in five year. I hope that Dnipro will also get the modern airport in the same time interval, and even more foreign guests will fly here. I think that Dnipro will become authentic and stylish.

алеф естейт ермолаев центр

 When the Expolight company joined the work on the project? Which was your cooperation with the architects?

 Due to the fact that we have been cooperating with Alef Estate and Vadym Volodymyrovych (editor’s note – Iermolaiev) over a long period of time, theinvestor appreciated already the importance of the architectural light, and we start to work together as early as at the stage of the conceptual design. This is as it should be. Currently the illumination of the buildings becomes much popular in Ukraine. However, the inexperienced developers go back to it when the face is almost ready. They are excited with this idea and they think: “We made such a beautiful building, let`s illuminate it as well?”. Naturally, they can not do it so “perfectly” due to the fact that the good architectural illumination shall go deep into the facility ideology and details; you should “live” with it.

When we work at the stage of the conceptual design, we are still able to influence on some subtle aspects, units, details, even the materials in some cases. We took part in three or maybe even five iterations of the face changes in cooperation with Serhii Filimonov and Natalia Kashyrina. And the illumination was changed as well. We tried to find and to understand this ideology together with them. And everything was fine after all these iterations, verification of the solutions, throwing-away of necessary things which are not very organic and complex. You can not paint a good “picture” after first
iteration. The pictures are usually painted bit by bit; the artists start from the large elements and switch to small parts. The same situation is with the illumination. This is the same progressive work from global understanding of the facility and landmark elements to subtler ones standing out the particular big picture and creating the impression that the building could not be illuminated in a different way. It always happens, and the illumination of such facilities as Cascade Plaza, “Bosphorus”, “Enigma”, “Katerynoslavskyi-I” was developed as early as at the stage of even not approved design of the face. The same situation was with “Ermolaev Center”.

 How will the “Ermolaev Center” project be complemented with the illumination and how will the illumination harmonize with the architectural ideas of this project?

 The illumination concept is the continuation of the architectural one. We emphasize that these are “true” and traditional materials, high-quality Dutch brick but in the modern interpretation. The facility has rather big stained-glass windows, panels from the metallic elements, with combination of metal and brick. We had to emphasize the feeling of good quality, stylishness, modernity, and purity of the decisions with the use of the illumination.

As we usually try to do it, all illumination is integrated, i.e. hidden on the face. We are attentive to the fact how it looks like during daylight hours, and all decisions were developed in the integrated manner in order to “hide” them somewhere and to overshadow them on the face in the daytime.

Our task was to show the large scale of the facility and to find new solutions and not to repeat those which were applied by us at the facility Cascade Plaza and the residential complex “Katerynoslavskyi-I” before. Moreover, we tried to achieve some continuance and to make sure that it looks like the entire complex and district at the same time. We emphasize the unique solutions of particular this facility; the fact that there is even more brick; the plastics of the faces is rather complicated than in “Bosphorus”; there are more public spaces – yards, boulevards, and this is also the separate and large part of work.

We make major efforts to roof top public spaces accessible for all city residents. And when it comes to the territory illumination, we always try to avoid use of some lighting poles and columns and to use to the full the light reflected from the faces, plants, and minor forms.

There is also some moment that we do not want to make uniform illumination. The uniform illumination does not mean “good illumination”. The eye-pleasing illumination for promenade areas is often elaborately contrast, with low total illumination and with certain emphasis on the individual details and plants. This means that even small spaces become more interesting; you can not read them at once, at first glance. The emphasis is placed on the certain trees, minor forms, and sculptures provided for in the main idea. It is much interesting to perceive and to be there.

As the architects say, the landscape gardening will become the “heart” of the project. How it will be related to the illumination project?

 The landscape gardening is very important element which evokes the sensation of “life”. It makes the impression that these are not just the walls but something organic. So, we make such special picture with the use of illumination due to the fact that we emphasize the presence of these green elements. Even if there will be not so many green elements, the illumination will become the indicator for our attention when it will be emphasized. We set eyes on the plants and we see
them, and we make the illumination in such a way that it creates shadows. The shadow presence creates further impression that this is the “garden city” rather than brick labyrinth. The illumination enhances the feeling of naturalness and balance of organic and alive in order to make this place more interesting for wandering. The illumination is irregular in a way different from Soviet times when the light fixtures were located 20 meters apart from each other. The current trends do not need the straightness, literalness, regularity, and uniformity. It is much interesting for people to see more complicated and alive picture, and we followed this trend.

How many people work on the project of “Ermolaev Center” illumination?

 The project team consisted of five persons at the stage when we dealt with the conceptual part, design, sketches, 3D-models of face and visualization. I suppose the project team was equal to the architects’ team. Another four persons joined our team at the “working” stage of the project. They were the engineers who develop the feeding schemes, control boards, cables, fixing brackets etc. We have been working on this project about two years already.