In Russia, hundreds upon hundreds of buildings are endangered. The work of making sure they don’t become extinct? That’s in the hands of a tireless few.
One of these crusaders is Natalia Melikova, the author of The Constructivist Project, an on-line web site that seeks to preserve the memory – and hopefully inspire the protection of – Russia’s avant-garde architecture. Although it began as her thesis project, it’s steadily become one of her life passions. In Melikova’s words, “By sharing photographs (my own and others), articles, events, exhibitions, and other resources on the topic of the avant-garde, The Constructivist Project unites common interest and appreciation of Russian art and history and makes it accessible to an international English-speaking audience. This is a way to initiate discussion not only of the perilous situation of Russian avant-garde architecture but also of cultural preservation and urban development in general.”
See 10 of Melikova’s images, snapshots into a part of Russian history quickly being forgotten, with her descriptions, after the break.
This poster is dedicated to the only building built by Corbusier in Russia. The poster designs were my thesis work which combined photographs with text, designed in the style of Russian avant-garde aesthetics (this poster is from my first set of designs).
Rusakov Workers’ Club
The first of five clubs built by Konstantin Melnikov. The design fulfills the goal of functional architecture as one space can be converted for many uses. Restoration work on the building began in February, but those in the architectural community have their doubts about the quality of the restoration work.
The last of several garages built by K. Melnikov, the facade resembles the front of a car, but only one of the “headlights” was built.
This is another garage by K. Melnikov. This poster is from my final set of posters, hand printed using the silk screen method.
Bread Factory No.9
One of several bread factories built by the engineer G. Marsakov, this one is still in operation. However, Bread Factory No. 5 built in the same circular design is abandoned and gutted. It is awaiting a reconstruction project to turn it into an business center.
Designed by Alexei Shchusev, Lenin’s mausoleum was first built out of wood as a step pyramid. It was later rebuilt out of black and red granite, where Malevich’s influence on Shchusev’s works can be clearly seen.
Started after but finished before Corbusier’s Tsentrosoyuz, the influence of Tsentrosoyuz can be seen in the VEI building. A science research facilty, after WWII it became a student facility which it continues to be today. The building is more or less preserved.
The design for the library began in the late 1920s but the building was finished only a decade later. Built near the Kremlin, it was an important building. With the changing tastes in style, what began as a constructivist design ended up being built in a transitional style of postconstructivism, with elements of Art Deco.
Designed by K. Melnikov in the shape of a horseshoe with engineering by V. Shukhov, it still functions as a garage.
The student commune house is currently undergoing a massive reconstruction project that began in 2008, and still has about 2 or so years to go. When completed, it will resume its orginal function as student dormitories. The first federally funded project, it could serve as a precedent in the reconstruction of constructivist buildings.
See more of Melikova’s images at The Constructivist Project