Architects: Konstantin Melnikov
Location: Moscow, Russia
Architect: Konstantin Melnikov
Project Year: 1928
Photographs: Denis Esakov
From the architect. The collapse of the old regime in Russia that took place with the Revolution of 1917 was followed by an artistic period of powerful activity in formal experimentation directed at the establishment of a creative language capable of expressing the new ideals and aspirations of Soviet Society.
Konstantin Melnikov'sRusakov Workers' Club in Moscow shows an intense fascination with dramatic structure, in this case through bold cantilevered seating constructed of reinforced concrete.
With the ascent of Stalin in the 1930's, the Soviet authorities began using architecture as a vehicle for the expression of political power. As in all European totalitarian states, experimentation was replaced by an architecture meant to be inspiring, monumental, and triumphant, as illustrated in the Ruskov Workers' Club.
The building, a cultural center for trolley workers, houses an auditorium for 1,400 people. In plan, the club resembles a fan; in elevation, it is divided into a base and three cantilevered concrete seating areas.
The ground floor is taken up by the large main auditorium with its orchestra area, over which stand the three smaller auditoriums located in three radial bodes; each of these can be divided off from the main auditorium by a system of movable walls. At the rear of the building are more conventional offices.
While the only visible materials used in its construction are concrete, brick, and glass, the reinforced concrete construction was created through the assembly of geometric volumes with sharp angles and diagonal lines that resemble an enormous mechanical gear, further exemplifying the Soviet's interests in the forces of industrialization.
To some extent, the building's function is expressed on the exterior, which Melnikov described as a "tensed muscle."