Melnikov House Дом Мельникова
AUGUST 13, 2014

It’s been one year since that infamous night when the Melnikov House was abruptly seized by the Shchusev State Museum of Architecture (MUAR), entangling it in a new round of scandals and heated discussions for many months to come. It’s been a controversial topic ever since.

It’s worth noting The Constructivist Project is an independent project, views expressed are my own.

My involvement with the Melnikov House started back in 2012, when the neighboring buildings on Arbat Street were knocked down in August, I met Ekaterina (Ekaterina Karinskaya – K. Melnikov’s granddaughter living in the house since the passing away of her father, Viktor Melnikov, in 2006) for the first time at the non-fiction book fair in November, and in December of 2012 got to visit the house for the first time. Over the last 3 years, I got to know the situation with the house from first-hand experience and documented the events that surrounded the house. The Melnikov House has been in the news a lot. Even back in 2012 when I was just beginning to investigate the situation, I had my first taste of the complexities of the situation.

Flash forward: at around 5pm on August 13, 2014 I received a call that there were strange activities at the Melnikov House, that Ekaterina’s husband who had been at the house had been forced out and ended up leaving by ambulance. Security guards were posted at the house, while earlier during the day MUAR staff had entered the house in the absence of Ekaterina who had been out of town, and now was rushing back to Moscow. I stopped by the house around 7pm to confirm the presence of security guards and then returned at 9pm when Ekaterina arrived with family members, along with a few other onlookers. From here, I’ve heard various accounts of what happened next, and some outright falsifications out to vilify Ekaterina, such as that a crowd of 30-40 of her supporters stormed the house that night (I counted, there were around 14, half of which were relatives and among them the family dog and two toddlers). I can attest to what I personally saw that night, and captured with photographs and video. After returning home after midnight, I quickly jotted down a summary of the events just witnessed and posted it along with photos on The Constructivist Project’s Facebook page.

The shock of these turn of events was widely discussed on social media along with numerous articles trying to make sense of what had happened. Many repeated the Museum’s position that finally “the first steps had been taken in establishing the Melnikov House Museum” while others were critical of MUAR’s methods. A rift appeared: those that supported MUAR’s actions, those that did not. If it’s not clear by now, I’m with the latter.

A statement by Moscow Architecture Preservation Society on August 21, 2014 clearly expressed the concern in the developing situation:


I kept my eyes on the situation, going to the house often to talk to Ekaterina through the front yard fence, which at the beginning was inexplicably “banned” by the security guards. I posted summaries and photos of what I witnessed over the course of several months. Here one can find another account of the events leading up to the opening of the house to visitors in December 2014.

Melnikov House - August 13, 2014

And every time I voiced my disbelief that such obviously unjust things can go on, I received the reply, “This is Moscow, what do you expect?” And on the other hand, several times I received the encouragement regarding my work for this project (mostly from non-Russians), “keep fighting the good fight!” Preservation of internationally renowned monuments is indeed an uphill battle, as can be seen by not only the case of the Melnikov House but also those of fellow avant-garde masterpieces, the Shukhov Tower and the Narkomfin Building, both still with unsettled, precarious fates.

And without delving too far into the unpleasantness of the whole situation surrounding the Melnikov House, I should point out I by far am not alone in my views. An open letter was published on September 15 voicing concerns about MUAR’s actions. It was signed by over 180 signatories. In response, MUAR wrote their own letter which was signed by 14 prominent figures in the spheres of culture and architecture. If anything is clear in the neverending drama surrounding the Melnikov House, as a result of the August 13 incident, the cultural community of Moscow was strongly polarized into opposing groups of “architects, art experts, and representatives of the museum community” and an “other group of art experts, historians of architecture, members of the professional architecture and museum community”. (I explain my views of the significance of such a schism in the October 13 entry).

Melnikov House Дом Мельникова

To be sure, the scandal starting from August 13 was a major PR blow to MUAR. Some have ceased relations with the museum because of this, while others still feel that MUAR’s actions were in the best interest of the house. Now a year has passed. The house has been regularly shown to visitors in small groups since December 2014. For more information regarding visiting the Melnikovs Museum, as the house is now called, see here. The tour slots quickly fill up months in advance and can only be booked by telephone, +7 (495) 697 8037. Recent news & upcoming plans for the Melnikov House can be read on the sites of the Melnikovs Museum:,

I know I have only scratched the surface of why I feel so strongly about the situation, and to make some sort of sense of it all, one needs to be familiar with all the details of the events, recent and those dating farther back in time. I only hope to convey the struggle, and the cost, of setting up the museum. Opening the house to visitors satisfies the public’s demand for access to the house and is an easy win with public opinion, but unfortunately this was done employing less than respectable methods for a cultural institution.


Since its construction in the late 1920s, the Melnikov House has always been a wonder and a curiosity, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Konstantin Melnikov created a place for family, a place for art and creativity, a sanctuary, a fortress. When I entered the house for the first time in December 2012, I had butterflies. It’s one thing to see it in pictures, read about it, and another to experience it. I remember Ekaterina telling our small group, that we need to first see it with our eyes, listen to our guide tell about the peculiarities of the house, feel the atmosphere, and save the picture taking for later.

Melnikov House vs ?

Over the years I was fortunate to visit the house on numerous occasions, stopping by to find out the latest news in the legal battles, document the construction of the neighboring multi-functional complex, photograph the freshly appearing cracks, and at times just to sip tea with Ekaterina in the small kitchen. I could see it pained her to talk about all the difficulties in preserving the legacy of the house, all the endless legal battles, the indifference of Moscow authorities towards the fate of the house. She would occasionally drift off and instead talk of fond memories of the past. They had a big family dog, and when the Melnikovs were in the kitchen and the dog was outside, he’d peer through the hexagonal window, scratching the glass with his large paws. Looking out that window, the scratches were still visible.

It’s hard for me to divide myself from all the scandalous events that happened last year, I admit. I won’t forget what I witnessed, and it will never be acceptable in my view. I still get frustrated every time I read misinformation in the news. But as a close friend recently reminded me when she shared her experience of finally having a chance to visit the Melnikov House a couple of weeks ago, the house is “pure beauty.” I was glad to hear that despite the struggles of last year, the house is still able to charm and enchant. The place has a special something that’s often hard to explain with words, but she did a great job in my opinion.

With her permission, here’s how she described her experience:

Today was a big day. Today I have visited Melnikov House.
I remember myself in 2008 and my friend telling me while we were flaneuring in hatred along Old Arbat: “Hey, d’you wanna see Melnikov House?”, as if I knew what it was. We came. I stood and watched at everything I could through the fence. This feeling was exciting because house was a mystery, it was always closed. Even not closed – it was private. Since that time I always went along that little curved street to see the House and it’s life. Sometimes a woman was smoking in the yard, sometimes a kid forgot his bike at the entrance. I was ashamed of my peeking. But I couldn’t help not doing that.

Today I’ve seen it all: from basement till the rooftop (were I got my pants torn). I was shaking with excitement. I think I even had a heart ache. I want to keep aside all the scandalous filth around this House, ‘cause I’m not a judge, I’m no one here, a passing by fetishist. I want to keep my impressions pure as a ray of light streaming through the hexahedral window. Because not everyday you see pure beauty.

I’ll start with interesting (for me) fact that for example while (virtually) studying Villa Tugendhat by Mies van der Rohe in Brno I see that architect was creating even furniture there, or Vasnetsov designed all the furniture in his house. Here I saw only house and routine life. Furniture was collected and has classic or modern design: weird heads of eagles on armchairs and a sofa with predator’s paws. Carpets here and there, beautiful bath and sinks… All the pieces are about comfort not concept.

Also curious for me was fact that while building Melnikov was very much concentrated on engineering. He made this House alive – it breathes, it get’s warm and cool with the help of very advanced for the young pre-industrial country system of heating and ventilation. Another fun\fan thing is… let’s call it intercom – 2 tubes through which people can speak to each other from first floor to the 3rd, and to the entrance (those tubes are to be reconstructed). Or numerous little openings and holes for air, water, smoke, trash, valuables and even food.

I always imagined interior as some big open space with only curtains dividing people from each other – big communal space. But it’s not exactly so. First of all your head starts spinning and I even got disoriented as the space organization inside is… how to say – curved. You enter and start a labyrinth trip, always turning somewhere, going in spiral direction as the main stairs do. Moreover there is no open space on the first floor – everything is divided – dining room, kitchen, son’s and daughter’s rooms, clothing-room (big and shared – boys from the right side, girls from the left). Second floor is also divided into living room and bedroom. Sad fact that initially house was built at perfect point from which Melnikovs and guests could see 3 churches around and Kremlin. But more importantly – insolation which was really crucial for artist (house has more than 60 windows and one huge window case on the front facade) is also ruined because of high ugly buildings around. Before it was a beautiful alive tower full of light, now it’s a hidden treasure in concrete bag.

But let’s go further – up to the heart of the building – artist’s studio. Everything changes here. As you go up even light is changing – from dark and cool first floor to a bit bourgeois pleasant and cosy second you get to bright and sacramental third floor. What to say? I was just standing with my eyes, ears, heart wide open, breathing in this light and transparency. It’s a shrine. If art is the way to speak to God, this studio is a shrine. There is huge mirror in the very centre and seeing yourself in that mirror is like looking at the altar. And it becomes a looped experience because the person reflected there is becoming a master of this sacred place. To be honest I had no guts to look into that mirror. I was afraid to spoil this crazy feeling.

I have very bad pictures and fragmented impressions – so over emotional I was. I need to digest everything. But for now I’m happy – it’s was a great day.

August 3 was the 125th anniversary of the birth of Konstantin Melnikov. Many events were put on in celebration of this. However, it’s hard not to think of all the troubles surrounding the Melnikov name. Quoting from a Facebook post by the Avant-Garde Center in Moscow,

August 3 marked 125 years since the birth of the most extraordinary, independent, and brilliant architect of the avant-garde – Konstantin Melnikov. The past year has not been the best for his legacy and his heirs. Let’s hope that for the 130th anniversary his incredible buildings will be at least be partially restored in accordance with his designs, that his name will appear in the media not in connection with conflicts, scandals and lawlessness, but instead on the occasion of the publication of books, the caring out of successful restorations, and new research. And also – may there be a real museum, not in an occupied house, not at the cost of insults and underhanded schemes.

Let’s hope.

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BIG changes are coming to The Constructivist Project!

[Текст на русском языке ниже]

Hello! My name is Natalia. I’m a photographer / designer / activist / aspiring journalist / architecture enthusiast / collector of everything related to constructivism and the Russian avant-garde – in short, the author of The Constructivist Project. I have been working on this project for 5 years ever since visiting Moscow in the summer of 2010 to photograph constructivist architecture for a master’s thesis project. You can read more about how this project got started HERE.

Natalia Melikova Наталья Меликова

Тhe project has been featured by: ArchDaily, The Calvert Journal, Russian Art and Culture, and The Offing.

And in the news: BBC, The New York Times, Motherboard (VICE), The Moscow Times, The Moscow News, and others.

Narkomfin, Pirate Flag11 April 2014

And here you can also find what the project has been up to in 2013 and 2014.

In addition to running The Constructivist Project, I am co-creator of; a member of Docomomo Russia and Archnadzor; have contributed articles to Docomomo US, Docomomo International, The Calvert Journal, and The Modernist; and have nominated the Narkomfin building for the 2016 World Monuments Fund Watch List (results announced in October 2015).

Now it’s time to make the project even better!

The Constructivist Project’s mission:
To make information in ENGLISH and RUSSIAN more accessible via an info portal – collecting in ONE place things related to the avant-garde and covering the topics of architecture, art, graphic design, cinema, music, theater, fashion, as well as the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage, restoration / reconstruction of avant-garde monuments and sites. But first and foremost, the focus will be on photography, the documentation and investigation of avant-garde architecture remaining today.


Many things are planned, but as a start, the project’s website is going to be redesigned and expanded to become a more organized, complete resource dedicated to the Russian avant-garde. The main new feature will be a searchable online MAP featuring constructivist sites with their historic and contemporary photographs, and whatever other information/resources are available. Other new sections: CALENDAR with exhibits, lectures, events, etc; SHOP; TOURS.

Currently looking for:
– a website programmer / designer
– a partner / consultant to manage the business aspects of the project
– a small team to help with various aspects of the project in its expanded form
– FUNDING (in the form of grants, donations, sponsorship, and other ideas welcome)


In preparation for all the coming changes, I would really appreciate some feedback from the project’s audience:

How did you find out about the project? (Facebook? Google search? Friend? Online article?) When?
What do you like about the project?
What can be improved?
There are several options for tours on the avant-garde in Moscow, but most them are in Russian only. I would like to start doing tours on avant-garde architecture in English! What kind of tours would you be interested in?
On Facebook, what kind of posts / content do you find the most useful? The most interesting?
What do you want to learn more about relating to the avant-garde? (History, art, architecture, artists/architects, current condition of buildings, etc)
I’m researching relevant grants and sources of funding. Recommendations very welcome!
Any other suggestions / comments?
If you would like to help, tell me how!

Please send an email with your answers to
Looking forward to your feedback!
– Natalia
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
NEW! If you would like to sign up for the newsletter, send an email to with the subject “newsletter” and a few words about yourself and interest in The Constructivist Project.

TCP logois on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube

The Constructivist Project ждут большие перемены!

Привет! Меня зовут Наталья. Я фотограф / дизайнер/ активист / журналист / энтузиаст архитектуры / собиратель всего, что касается конструктивизма и русского авангарда. Короче, я автор The Constructivist Project. Я работаю над этим проектом уже пять лет, с тех пор, как в 2010 году приехала в Москву снимать архитектуру конструктивизма для дипломного проекта. Узнайте больше, как начинался этот проект, ЗДЕСЬ.

Проект на: ArchDaily, The Calvert Journal, Russian Art and Culture, и The Offing.

И в новостях: BBC, The New York Times, Motherboard (VICE), The Moscow Times, The Moscow News, и другие.

Archnadzor picket - Shukhov Tower

Чем занимался проект в 2013 и 2014 году.

Помимо управления проекта The Constructivist Project, я со-автор; член Докомомо Россия и Архнадзор; писала статьи для Docomomo US, Docomomo International, The Calvert Journal, и The Modernist; и номинировала дома Наркомфина в 2016 World Monuments Fund Watch List (результаты будут объявлены в октябре 2015 года).

Пришло время сделать проект еще лучше!

Миссия The Constructivist Project:
Сделать доступной информацию на АНГЛИЙСКОМ и РУССКОМ языках, собрать на одном инфо-портале сведения об авангарде в архитектуре, искусстве, графическом дизайне, кино, музыке, театре и моде. Также The Constructivist Project поощряет сохранение культурного наследния: восстановление и реконструкцию авангардных памятников.  Но в первую очередь внимание сосредоточено на фотографии, документировании и поиске архитектуры авангарда, сохранившейся в наши дни.


Задумано довольно много, но в первую очередь в планах редизайн веб-сайта. Он станет лучше структурирован, более наполненным, с понятной навигацией и поиском. Главной особенностью станет интерактивная КАРТА интернет-ресурсов, посвященных конструктивизму, с историческими и современными фотографиями и прочей доступной информацией. Другие новые разделы: КАЛЕНДАРЬ с выставками, лекций, мероприятий и т.д.; МАГАЗИН; ЭКСКУРСИИ.

В настоящее время проекту необходимы:
– програмист / дизайнер
– партнер / консультант по управлению бизнес-процессами проекта
– небольшая команда для помощи в различных аспектах расширения проекта
– ФИНАНСИРОВАНИЕ (в виде грантов, пожертвований, спонсорства. Другие идеи приветствуются!)


В подготовке грядущих изменений, я была бы очень признателена за некоторую обратную связь от аудитории проекта:

Как вы узнали о проекте? (Facebook? Поиск Google? От знакомых? Статья в интернете?) Когда?
Что вам нравится в проекте?
Что, на ваш взгляд, можно улучшить?
На Facebook, какие сообщения / контент вы найдете наиболее полезными? Наиболее интересными?
Что еще вы бы хотели узнать об авангарде? (История, искусство, архитектура, художники / архитекторы, текущее состояние зданий и т.д.)
В настоящее время я исследую возможности финансирования проекта. Рекомендации приветствуются!
Любые другие предложения /комментарии?
Если вы желаете помочь, скажите мне, как!

Пожалуйста, отправьте письмо с вашими ответами на:
Я с нетерпением жду ваших отзывов!
– Наталья
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
NEW! Если вы хотите, чтобы подписаться на рассылку, отправьте письмо на с темой “newsletter” и несколько слов о себе и интерес к The Constructivist Project.

TCP logoна Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube

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ICOMOS Resolution re Russian Avant-Garde

ICOMOS wishes to again call to the attention of the authorities of the Russian Federation the urgent necessity of:
– halting the demolition of this internationally significant architectural and historical layer [Russian Avant-garde];
– providing top-level federal listing to these important heritage resources;
– ensuring the application of internationally approved conservation standards;
– taking urgent steps for the safeguarding and scientifically based restoration of internationally renowned Russian modernist treasures such as Shukhov Tower (V. Shukhov, 1919-1922), Melnikov House (K. Melnikov, 1927-1929) and Narkomfin Building (M. Ginzburg e al, 1928-1930) in Moscow.”



PDF version: Resolution_RussianAvantgarde

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A look back at 2014

Shukhov Tower, Narkomfin, Melnikov House
2014 was the year of fighting for the Shukhov Tower, Narkomfin Building, and Melnikov House – heritage at risk, with still uncertain futures.

Archnadzor picket - Shukhov Tower
After a tumultuous spring, by summer it appeared that it was agreed that the Shukhov Tower shall remain in place to be restored without dismantling. By winter of 2014, talk of lack of funds and the same ideas of dismantling and relocation again surfaced.

Various construction works began in Narkomfin and the Department of Cultural Heritage made an announcement that they had stopped these illegal renovation works, which as it turned out the works in fact continued. The man behind the renovation works, Alexander Senatorov, even boldly admitted that he will be making all decisions concerning Narkomfin. By fall the tune changed and a workshop was organized with the participation of Senatorov, specialists, and young architects to formulate ways of including Narkomfin back into the cultural life of Moscow. However, preserving the authenticity of the building shall remain a challenge considering the manner and amount of works that were already illegally and without accountability carried out in the spring.

Melnikov House - August 13, 2014
The Melnikovs Museum was created as a branch of the Museum of Architecture on March 4, 2014 and the Melnikov House received federal status on March 13. On August 13 the house was suddenly seized by the Museum of Architecture, and on December 3 the Melnikov House was officially opened to the public after 3 1/2 months of scandal.

Here’s what else happened in 2014:


Academy of Art University published:
Preserving Russia’s architectural heritage: Natalia Melikova’s photographic vision

Plans were announced for the dismantling and relocation of the Shukhov Tower. See a collection of news articles here.
Shukhov Tower, 2013
First signs of changes at Narkomfin: See news article here & blog post here.
Narkomfin, Studio at 11, 2014
February 28: SOS press conference: Narkomfin, Shukhov Tower, VDNKh


March 5: “Stop the dismantling of Shukhov Tower on Shabolovka!” petition started on

March 15-16: Shukhov Tower: SOS. Tours were organized in the Shabolovka area to educate the public about the tower and neighborhood’s history, and inform of the threat of losing an iconic Moscow sight.
Poster design by Heather Hermit

March 18:, Architects to Putin: Save Shukhov Tower, Moscow’s Futuristic Soviet ‘Eiffel’!

“‘We are trying to get as much attention on this situation as possible,’ the photographer Natalia Melikova, who runs an architectural heritage website called The Constructivist Project, wrote by email. Ahead of a press conference on Wednesday in Moscow, Melikova said she had hoped to gather more statements of support from architects, preservationists and design-lovers overseas. The potential weight that foreign opinion carries, she said, could help convince the authorities ‘that the tower should stay in its historical place and be restored without dismantling. Take the tower apart and they won’t put it back together.'”

March 26: Docomomo US, “The Campaign to Save Shukhov Tower”
Shukhov Tower: SOS
March 27: Archnadzor picket in defense of the Shukhov Tower
Archnadzor picket - Shukhov Tower


April 8: BBC, Shukhov Tower: The Eiffel of the East

“A landmark that has long helped Muscovites navigate their city, the imminent threat to the tower has struck a public nerve, says Moscow-based photographer Natalia Melikova. ‘Once, the public attitude would have been indifference. But the events of the past two months have proven that if people didn’t spend much time thinking about the tower before, then most likely they have some opinion about it now.’

Melikova’s Constructivist Project website is dedicated to Russia’s avant-garde architecture and she is involved in the efforts to protect the Shukhov Tower. She is hopeful that another solution will emerge – to develop the Shabolovka area into a cultural quarter.

Melikova’s photographs document recent activities by campaigners to raise awareness about the tower. They have been conducting historical tours and collecting public signatures in support of their cause. ‘It’s hard to think of another building that would cause so many people to actively protest against its destruction,’ says Melikova.

‘Shukhov Tower is their tower.'”

April 11: Renovation works in Narkomfin’s penthouse: photos
April 13: The Moscow Times, Constructivist Utopia Narkomfin Endangered by Renovation Project
Narkomfin, Pirate Flag 11 April 2014
April 14: The Observers – France 24, Moscow residents rally to save Soviet-era ‘Eiffel Tower’

April 15: The Calvert Journal, High risk: Moscow’s iconic Shukhov Tower is under threat

April 15: The Calvert Journal, Full exposure: The Constructivist Project is keeping the avant-garde alive one photo at a time
Rusakov Club
April 23: The Moscow Times, Police Halt ‘Illegal’ Renovations in Narkomfin



May 15: Architectones, Melnikov House by Xavier Veilhan
Architectones Melnikov House by Xavier Veilhan
The Moscow Times, French Artist Sets Moscow Landmark on Fire
May 17: Presentation of the Avant-Garde Around the Tower Guidebook on Museum Night.
дом коммуна Николаева

A portion of the guide was published online.

May 29: Shukhov Tower rally: photos


June 5: construction of the multi-functional complex on Arbat continued, despite concerns of negative effects on the nearby Melnikov House
Arbat 39-41 construction site June 5, 2014


The Modernist, House-studio of Konstantin Melnikov
July 8: translation of an interview with Alexander Senatorov re Narkomfin, “Guys, relax, you will not control us”: Narkomfin’s new life
July 13:


August 13: The Melnikov House was suddenly, forcefully seized by the Museum of Architecture, only a partial “owner” of the property, with legal proceedings surrounding inheritance issues still unsettled, while Ekaterina was not at the house. Ekaterina is Konstantin Melnikov’s granddaughter living at the house since 2006 when her father Viktor Melnikov passed away. Ekaterina is also the executor of her father’s will. The locks were broken and changed, and private security guards were stationed at the house. Read an account of August 13 here.
Melnikov House Дом Мельникова

Timeline of events since then: MELNIKOV HOUSE RECENT NEWS
Collection of news articles: MELNIKOV HOUSE NEWS ARCHIVE

August 15: Museum of Architecture held a press conference explaining their first steps in setting up the Melnikovs Museum which began with the events of August 13. Press conference VIDEO.
See the entry under August 15 in RECENT NEWS for an account of the press conference.

August 21:
The Constructivst Project 100% agrees with this statement. Unfortunately, the Museum of Architecture continued to use force and vilify Ekaterina.


Docomomo Journal 50, “HERITAGE IN DANGER: Shukhov Tower”
Shukhov Tower article for Docomomo

Shukhov Tower article for Docomomo
September 9: #домнаш – Museum of Architecture staff posted selfies inside the Melnikov House with the hashtag “our house” (#домнаш was previously used in reference to the Crimea situation), in addition with comments of how “to get rid of the old woman” (Ekaterina). In bad taste, completely unprofessional, it caused quite a stir on Facebook (512 shares & 141 comments). This proved a further reason The Constructivist Project has found the Museum of Architecture’s handling of the Melnikov House situation unacceptable.
Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 3.12.40 PM
September 11: Archnadzor rally
Archnadzor rally
September 15: An open letter regarding the Melnikov House conflict was published, signed by over 180 signatories, expressing concerns of “legally dubious actions, direct force, as well as haste”, and requesting a conciliation commission and expert council to moderate the conflict. The Museum of Architecture in turn published their own open letter on September 19, with 14 signatories, in which they justified their actions and placed blame on Ekaterina for the house’s deterioration.


October 17: Museum of Architecture got Ekaterina’s registration to legally live in the house revoked, and she was evicted from the Melnikov House. Like August 13, there were numerous security forces present.
Melnikov House Дом Мельникова
Ekaterina’s last moments at her family’s home.
More photos of October 17.

On the same day, at the Moscow Culture Forum, there was a discussion about the future of the Narkomfin building.


December 2: Museum of Architecture held a press conference regarding the opening of the Melnikov House to the public, followed by a press tour of the house.
Since December 3 the house has been open for excursions. All excursions have been booked through March – news about the Melnikov Museum is posted on its Facebook page. So, priority has been on showing off the house to the public, instead of first performing restoration works. Typical of Moscow: shortsighted for a quick gain, the opening of the house to the public is a false and misleading “victory”.

2014 – what a year! Here’s what happened in 2013.


– Completion of Narkomfin – a web documentary (see Peeking inside Narkomfin)
NARKOMFIN - a web documentary
– Write a more in depth account of the Melnikov House saga, especially since August 13
Melnikov House - September 17, 2014
– Post more photos!
MEI interior

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Dec 3 Melnikov House opens to the public. History of events.

Russian and English translations of the article “A Mosca nasce il Museo Melnikov. Sfrattando l’erede da casa sua” published in Artribune on November 6, 2014.

Text: Anna Kostina
Photos: Natalia Melikova

3 декабря Дом Мельникова открывается для посещения. История события.

Melnikov House - August 13, 2014

13 августа 2014

“Константин Мельников” – эта надпись и по сей день украшает фактически единственный в своём роде частный дом, построенный в советское время. Здание революционной, для своей эпохи, формы. Два находящих друг на друга цилиндра дают в плане округлую восьмёрку, 57 шестигранных окна и огромная стеклянная витрина центрального фасада. В период постройки своего дома в 1927-1929г.г., Мельников был в фаворе у Сталина, но это длилось не долго. Вскоре его обвинили в формализме. Остаток жизни он прожил фактически без работы. После смерти архитектор оставил дом своим детям: Виктору и Людмиле, каждому по цилиндру, разрушив таким образом единство и неповторимость концепции. Мельников не мог предвидеть, что сначала они, а затем и внучки – Екатерина и Елена – начнут оспаривать его наследство в московском суде.

Екатерина, дочь Виктора, жила в этом доме и хранила наследие отца и деда последние 18 лет. Она содержала дом на свою мизерную пенсию, била тревогу, когда рядом началось строительство нового супермаркета. Участок, как и фундамент, серьёзно просел, и образовались огромные трещины как внутри, так и на фасадах дома. Самое важное из всех творений Мельникова, едва ли не единственное, сохранившееся в оригинальном виде, находится в плачевном состоянии. Здание требует скорейшей реконструкции, которая постоянно откладывается по причине неразрешенного правового конфликта.

Фонд “Русский Авангард”, принадлежащий бывшему сенатору Сергею Гордееву, в прошлом приобрёл половину дома у наследников Людмилы Мельниковой и позднее передал её МУАР. В 2011, по прошествии слушаний и судебных разбирательств (обсуждению подвергалось завещание Виктора), другая четверть имущества перешла в собственность Государства, которое в свою очередь передало его под патронаж Московского Музея Архитектуры (МУАР). Екатерина, как исполнительница воли отца и владелица 1/8 части имущества, по-прежнему проживала в доме. Поначалу она надеялась, что с помощью Музея Архитектуры ей удастся реализовать мечту своего отца – “Музей Отца и Сына”, посвящённый работам Мельниковых: Константина – архитектора и Виктора – художника. Конечно, прежде всего необходимо было привести в порядок участок и реставрировать здание.


К сожалению, договорённость с МУАР так и не была достигнута, и руководство музея перешло в атаку. 13 августа, воспользовавшись отсутствием Екатерины, охранники, нанятые МУАР, взломали входную дверь и проникли в дом с целью инвентаризации предметов искусства. Последующие три месяца внучка Константина Мельникова жила под охраной. Екатерину не пускали на верхние этажи, чтобы она не мешала процессу насильной “музеефикации”. Деньги, отложенные ею на ремонт дома, исчезли.

“Ужасная ситуация, – обвиняет Екатерина. Дом, в котором я выросла, был захвачен. Охранники пользовались кухней, что-то готовили, разливя воду на пол, складывали мусор. Поселились там только затем, чтобы запретить мне подниматься на второй этаж”. Она не могла принимать даже родственников, изредка пропускали лишь врачей. Здание охранялось специально обученными собаками, готовыми наброситься в любой момент. 17 октября вышло распоряжение о выселении. Екатерину (75 лет) просто выгнали из дома.

Ей даже не дали возможности собрать личные вещи. Со слов Екатерины Каринской, ей передали через забор лыжный костюм, два одеяла и туфли. В момент интервью она находилась в квартире дочери. “Я осталась без одежды, без дома и без денег” – повторяет она. “Сложно отказаться. Если б не привязанность к национальному достоянию, я бы прожила жизнь иначе”.

Открытое письмо в поддержку Екатерины и ответ Музея

В поддержку Екатерины и в качестве обвинения в жёстком обращении, появилось общественное письмо, адресатом которого был Министр Культуры и Советник президента по делам культуры. “Мы, члены профессионального культурного сообщества России, искусствоведы и историки архитектуры, считаем несовместимым со статусом и миссией учреждения культуры действия Музея архитектуры им.А.В.Щусева…Считаем что на базе Дома Мельникова должен открыться государственный музей согласно завещанию В.К. Мельникова, однако вне всякого сомнения, ни один музей не может создаваться на основании сомнительных в правовом отношении действий, прямого насилия, а так же спешки. В планах Музея Архитектуры им.А.В. Щусева значится скорейшее открытие дома для посетителей ( в ноябре 2014г.), хотя это нельзя делать до проведения научной реставрации. Без реставрации дом может погибнуть в короткие сроки; такая позиция ГМА им.Щусева противоречит основной цели создания Музея Мельниковых – сохранению уникального здания”.

Ответ директора МУАР, Ирины Коробиной не замедлил себя ждать: “В отношении сотрудников ЧОПа, так взволновавших всех, то любая государственная собственность должна охраняться – либо полицией, либо ЧОПами…В 2011г. в присутствии замминистра культуры Андрея Евгеньевича Бусыгина Екатерина Викторовна клялась, что если Росимущество подпишет мировое соглашение, она покинет дом и позволит там создать музей. Два года было потрачено на разработку проекта мирового соглашения – был подготовлен безупречный документ, исключающий малейшие риски…И вот когда всё было готово, мировое соглашение было подписано серьезными государственными учреждениями – Минэкономразвития, Росимуществом, одобрено Минкультуры, “исполнительница завещания” его отвергла, несмотря на клятвенное завещание”.

Сотрудники музея теперь уже наверняка закончили инвентаризацию, составив опись около 5 000 предметов, принадлежащих Константину и Виктору. В первых числах декабря 2014г. Дом музей откроется для посетителей. Запись возможна по предварительной записи (по 5-7 человек в день). Казалось бы, мечта Мельникова близка к реальности, но какой ценой?

Melnikov House - August 13, 2014
August 13, 2014
Melnikov House - August 13, 2014
August 13, 2014
Melnikov House - August 13, 2014
August 13, 2014
Melnikov House - August 29, 2014
August 29, 2014
Melnikov House - August 29, 2014
August 29, 2014
Melnikov House - October 17, 2014
October 17, 2014

December 3 Melnikov House opens to the public. History of events.

“Konstantin Melnikov” – this inscription to this day adorns the practically one of a kind private house built in Soviet times. The building is revolutionary for its time and form. Two joined cylinders give a layout of a rounded figure eight, 57 hexagonal windows, and huge glass windows for the central facade. During the construction of his house in 1927-1929, Melnikov was in favor with Stalin, but it did not last long. Soon after he was accused of formalism. The rest of his life he lived with virtually no work. After the death of the architect the house was left to his children: Viktor and Ludmila, a cylinder for each, thus destroying the unity and uniqueness of the concept. Melnikov could not foresee that first they, and then also his grandchildren – Ekaterina and Elena – will challenge his inheritance in Moscow court.

Ekaterina, Viktor’s daughter, lived in this house and guarded the legacy of her father and grandfather for the last 18 years. She maintained the house on a meager pension, and sounded the alarm when the construction of a new multifunctional center began. The plot of land, as well as the foundations, have seriously subsided, and formed huge cracks both inside and on the facades of the house. The most important of all Melnikov’s works, perhaps the only one preserved in its original form, is in a lamentable condition. The building requires a restoration as soon as possible, which has been constantly postponed due to unresolved legal conflict.

The Russian Avant-Garde Foundation, owned by the former senator Sergey Gordeev, had bought half of the house from the heirs of Ludmila Melnikova and later gave it to the Museum of Architecture. In 2011, after hearings and trials (discussion subject to Viktor’s will), another quarter of the estate was taken over by the State, which in turn passed it to the patronage of the Moscow Museum of Architecture (MUAR). Ekaterina as executor of the will of her father and the owner of 1/8 of the property still lived in the house. At first, she had hoped that with the help of the Museum of Architecture she would be able to realize the dream of her father – “Museum of Father and Son”, dedicated to the works of the Melnikovs: Konstanin – the architect, and Viktor – the artist. Certainly, first of all it was necessary to put the territory in order and restore the building.


Unfortunately, agreement with MUAR had not been achieved, and management of the museum crossed over to the attack. On August 13, taking advantage of Ekaterina’s absence, security guards employed by MUAR, broke the door and entered the house with the purpose of making an inventory of the art works. For the next three months the granddaughter of Konstantin Melnikov lived under guard. Ekaterina was not allowed on the upper floors, so that she would not interfere with the process of forced “museumification.” Money that she had set aside to repair the house disappeared.

“A terrible situation,” denounces Ekaterina. “The house in which I grew up was seized. The security guards used the kitchen and prepared food there all the while spilling water on the floor, and accumulated garbage. They took up residence there only to prohibit me from going up to the second floor.” She could not even receive relatives as guests, only doctors were occasionally allowed in. The building was guarded by specially trained dogs, ready to pounce at any moment. On October 17 a decree of eviction was issued. Ekaterina (75 years old) was simply kicked out of the house.

She was not even given an opportunity to collect her personal belongings. From the words of Ekaterina Karinskaya, over the fence she was handed a ski suit, two blankets, and shoes. At the time of the interview, she was in her daughter’s apartment. “I was left with no clothes, no home, and no money,” she repeated. “It’s hard to refuse. If it were not attached to national heritage, I would have lived life differently.”

An open letter in support of Ekaterina and the Museum’s answer

A public letter in support of Ekaterina and with accusations of heavy-handed treatment was addressed to the Minister of Culture and to the Advisor to the President on Cultural Affairs. “We, the members of the professional architectural and museum community in Russia, art and architectural historians, consider the activities of the Schusev Museum of Architecture incompatible with the status and mission of cultural institutions… We believe that based on the Melnikov House a state museum should open according to V.K. Melnikov’s will, however, without a doubt, no museum can be established on the basis of legally dubious actions, direct force, as well as haste. The plans of the Schusev State Museum of Architecture include the speedy opening of the house to visitors (in November 2014), although this cannot be done until a scientific restoration is carried out. Without restoration the house can be lost in a short time; such a position of the Schusev State Museum of Architecture is contrary to the main purpose of the Melnikovs Museum – the preservation of a unique building.”

The response of MUAR’s director, Irina Korobina did not take long: “With respect to the private security employees that alarmed so many, it’s that any state property should be protected – either by the police or by private security guards … In 2011 in the presence of Deputy Culture Minister Andrei Busygin, Ekaterina swore that if the Federal Property Management Agency will sign the settlement agreement, she will leave the house and allow a museum to be created there. Two years were spent on drafting a settlement agreement – a scrupulous document was prepared, excluding the slightest risk … And when all was ready, the settlement agreement was signed by major government agencies – Ministry of Economic Development, Federal Property Management Agency, approved by the Ministry of Culture, “the executor of the will” rejected it, despite the sworn promise made.”

Museum staff have now certainly finished the inventory, having made an inventory of approximately 5,000 objects belonging to Konstantin and Viktor. In early December 2014 the Museum House will open to the public. Registration is possible by appointment (5-7 people per day). It would seem that Melnikov’s dream is close to becoming a reality, but at what cost?

Melnikov House  April 26, 2013

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Melnikov House Дом Мельникова

Below is a translation of the open letter which was originally published on

The letter can be signed on Facebook in the open group,

Translation of the group description:
Dear colleagues and friends, the situation with the Melnikov House, when a state cultural institution has slipped to trivial criminality seems unthinkable, yet it is a reality!
This group has been created with the single purpose to create an interactive tool so that people who are outraged by what has happened, had the opportunity to put their signature to this open letter. It’s enough to write your name and somehow present oneself here.”

To sign the letter, on fill in the “write post” box with:
first name, last name, profession


Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation
V.R. Medinsky

Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation on Culture
V.I. Tolstoy

Moscow, September 15, 2014

Dear Vladimir Rostislavovich,
Dear Vladimir Ilyich,

We, the members of the professional architectural and museum community in Russia, art and architectural historians, consider the activities of the Schusev Museum of Architecture incompatible with the status and mission of cultural institutions, whose employees on August 13, 2014 seized the house-studio of the world famous Russian architect Konstantin Melnikov, an architectural monument of federal significance. Without waiting for the final execution of a court decision on the full transfer of the house to state property in order to create on its basis a branch of the Museum of Architecture, withdrawing the house out of the housing stock, resolving the conflict with the heirs of the architect, the museum staff entered the house, using the absence of the legally residing there E.V. Karinskaya – granddaughter of the great architect, executor of V.K. Melnikov’s will, thus violating the principle of inviolability of the house. Further actions of the Museum of Architecture – changing the locks on the house, installing round-the-clock security at the house (by a private security company) with dogs, regular rounds of the premises, a ban on visits to E.V. Karinskaya by her family, and restricted access to her even by doctors, the forced inventory of memorial items interspersed with personal belongings – we consider unacceptable.

We believe that based on the Melnikov House a state museum should open according to V.K. Melnikov’s will, however, without a doubt, no museum can be established on the basis of legally dubious actions, direct force, as well as haste. The plans of the Schusev State Museum of Architecture include the speedy opening of the house to visitors (in November 2014), although this cannot be done until a scientific restoration is carried out. Without restoration the house can be lost in a short time; such a position of the Schusev State Museum of Architecture is contrary to the main purpose of the Melnikovs Museum – the preservation of a unique building.

Due to the fact that the Schusev Museum of Architecture now is incurring a serious loss of reputation and thereby destroying the reputation of the future Museum of K.S. and V.K. Melnikov, as well as due to the fact that the management of the museum has been incompetent in reaching a peaceful end to the complex inheritance case and carrying out negotiations (for which much had been done in previous years by the former director of the Museum of Architecture D.A. Sarkisyan and the architectural community), we consider it imperative as soon as possible to:

1) Suspend any activities in the Melnikov House, except for urgent measures for the conservation of the monument; remove the private security. Evaluate from a legal point of view the actions of the Schusev Museum of Architecture and all parties of the conflict, and make appropriate staffing decisions.

2) Assemble a conciliation commission with the participation of lawyers representing the parties of the conflict and museum experts to work out a compromise plan for a phased creation of the Museum of K.S. and V.K. Melnikov.

3) Create an Expert Council, which should include experts on twentieth century architecture, restorers, museum experts and designers, who will evaluate the concept of the museum and will be able to make adjustments to it based on the recent developments.

The Melnikov House is a world heritage site; the entire architectural community currently is observing the situation around the monument with alarm and amazement. We ask you to see to the peaceful settlement of the conflict, thus preserving the cultural heritage of the country and the reputation of the cultural and architectural community in Russia.


Eugene Asse, architect, artist, rector of the architecture school MARSH

Andrei Batalov, Doctor of Arts, Professor, Honored Artist of Russia, member of the Presidium of the Scientific and Methodological Council for Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation

Alexander Brodsky, architect, artist

Anna Bronovitskaya, Ph.D., associate professor of the Moscow Architectural Institute, a member of the section on the legacy of the Soviet period, the Federal Scientific and Methodological Council on heritage

Nikolai Vasilev, art historian, general secretary of Docomomo Russia

Eugene Hershkowitz, art historian, journalist

Yuri Grigoryan, architect

Maria Gulida architect

Alexandra Danilova, art historian, curator, deputy director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts department of 19-20th century art

Natalia Dushkina, professor of the Moscow Architectural Institute, a founding member of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on 20th Century Heritage

Valentin Dyakonov, critic, curator, Kommersant columnist

Egor Egorychev, architect

Yulia Zinkevich, General Director of «Правила общения»

Anastasia Izmakova, architect

Olga Kazakova, PhD, Senior Researcher at the Scientific-Research Institute of the Theory and History of Architecture and Urban Planning

Oleg Karlson, architect at “ASB Karlson and K”

Anna Karneeva, architect

Maria Kachalova, architect

Evgeniya Kikodze, art historian, curator of the Museum of Moscow

Natalia Kopelyanskaya, museologist, expert at “Museums Solutions” creative team

Olga Kosyreva, design critic, co-founder of Design lecture

Maria Kravtsov, art historian

Victoria Kudryavtseva, architect

Fedor Lavrentiev, director

Olga Lebedeva, leading architect at Wowhaus

Irina Mak, art critic, journalist

Lyudmila Malkis, creative director of ARCHiPEOPLE, General Director of “Communicative Bureau Malkis”

Anastasia Maslova, architect

Anna Medleva, architect, member of the Union of Architects of Russia, laureate and winner of Russian and international competitions

Natalia Melikova, photographer, author of The Constructivist Project

Mikhail Molochnikov, artist

Anna Muravina, decorator, design bureau MUGU Interiors, executive director of AID (Association of Interior Decorators)

Sergei Nikitin, Assistant Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Head of Moskultprog

Elena Olshanskaya, filmmaker, journalist

Igor Palmin, photographer

Yuri Palmin, architectural photographer, teacher at MARSH and the British Higher School of Design

Maria Panova, architect

Boris Pasternak, certified expert of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, Deputy Chairman of the Scientific and Methodological Council for Cultural Heritage at the Department of Cultural Heritage of Moscow, the chief architect of the Center for Urban Research

Alexey Petukhov, art critic, senior fellow at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

Maria Podyapolskaya, architectural historian, tour guide

Anna Proshkuratova, architect

Grigory Revzin, art historian, architecture critic, professor at the Higher School of Urbanism at National Research University – Higher School of Economics

Anna Rodionova, architect

Evgeny Romanov, architect

Tatiana Romanova, architect

Denis Romodin, local historian, secretary of the Moscow branch of Docomomo Russia

Edward Rusenko, Wowhaus, artist

Natalia Samover, historian

Vladimir Sedov, Doctor of Arts, Professor, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Alexandra Selivanova, Senior Researcher at the Scientific-Research Institute of the Theory and History of Architecture and Urban Planning, curator of the Museum of Moscow Lectures

Evgeniya Sidorova, architect

Tatiana Skibo, architect

Olga Soldatov, architect, artist, designer

Evgenia Stakhanova, cultural specialist, co-author of Discover Moscow

Yulia Tarabarina, art historian, journalist

Nikita Tokarev, member of the Union of Moscow Architects, Director of MARSH

Natalia Tolstaya, senior fellow at the Moscow Center of Museum Development, member of the Presidium of ICOM Russia

Natalia Troskina, art historian, member of the Moscow branch of ICOMOS

Maria Troshina, art historian, editor in chief of Project International

Valentina Fedotova, architect-restorer

Bella Filatova, architect

Olga Khokhlova, architect

Marina Khrustaleva, architectural historian, member of the Coordinating Council of the Public Movement Archnadzor

Alexandra Chertkova, architect

Tatiana Efrussi, art historian, researcher at the Museum of the Moscow Architectural Institute

Alexander Yakut, artist, curator, gallery owner, architect

Marina Yarmarkina, architect

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Melnikov House Дом Мельникова

«С тревогой и изумлением»

Letter originally published on

можно подписать письмо ЗДЕСЬ

Министру культуры Российской Федерации
В.Р. Мединскому
Советнику президента РФ по культуре
В.И. Толстому
Москва, 15 сентября 2014 г.
Уважаемый Владимир Ростиславович!
Уважаемый Владимир Ильич!
Мы, члены профессионального архитектурного и музейного сообщества России, искусствоведы и историки архитектуры, считаем несовместимыми со статусом и миссией учреждения культуры действия Музея архитектуры им. А.В. Щусева, сотрудники которого 13 августа 2014 года вторглись в дом-мастерскую всемирно известного русского архитектора Константина Мельникова, памятник архитектуры федерального значения. Не дожидаясь окончательного исполнения судебного решения о полном переходе дома в собственность государства для создания на его базе филиала Музея архитектуры, вывода дома из жилфонда, разрешения конфликтной ситуации с наследниками архитектора, сотрудники музея проникли в дом, воспользовавшись отсутствием законно проживающей там Е.В. Каринской — внучки великого архитектора, исполнительницы завещания В.К. Мельникова, тем самым нарушив принцип неприкосновенности жилища. Дальнейшие действия Музея архитектуры — смену замков на доме, установку круглосуточной охраны дома ЧОО (частной охранной организацией) с собаками, регулярные обходы помещений, запрет на посещение Е.В. Каринской родными и ограничение доступа к ней даже врачей, принудительное проведение описи мемориальных предметов вперемешку с личными вещами — мы считаем недопустимыми.
Считаем, что на базе Дома Мельникова должен открыться государственный музей согласно завещанию В.К. Мельникова, однако, вне всякого сомнения, ни один музей не может создаваться на основании сомнительных в правовом отношении действий, прямого насилия, а также спешки. В планах Музея архитектуры им. А.В. Щусева значится скорейшее открытие дома для посетителей (в ноябре 2014 г.), хотя это нельзя делать до проведения научной реставрации. Без реставрации дом может погибнуть в короткие сроки; такая позиция ГМА им. Щусева противоречит основной цели создания Музея Мельниковых — сохранению уникального здания.
Вследствие того что Музей архитектуры им. А.В. Щусева несет сейчас серьезные репутационные потери и тем самым уничтожает репутацию будущего Музея К.С. и В.К. Мельниковых, а также из-за того, что руководство музея оказалось неспособным к мирному завершению сложного наследственного дела и ведению переговоров (для чего было многое сделано в предыдущие годы прежним директором Музея архитектуры Д.А. Саркисяном и архитектурным сообществом), считаем необходимым в кратчайшие сроки:
1) Приостановить любые действия в Доме Мельникова, за исключением неотложных мер по консервации памятника; убрать ЧОО. Оценить с правовой точки зрения действия Музея архитектуры им. А.В. Щусева и всех участников конфликта, вынести соответствующие кадровые решения.
2) Собрать согласительную комиссию с участием юристов, представляющих стороны конфликта, и музейных экспертов для выработки компромиссного поэтапного плана создания Музея К.С. и В.К. Мельниковых.
3) Создать Экспертный совет, куда должны войти специалисты по архитектуре ХХ века, реставраторы, музейные эксперты и проектировщики, которые оценят концепцию музея и смогут внести в нее коррективы исходя из сложившейся ситуации.
Дом Мельникова — всемирное достояние; за ситуацией вокруг памятника с тревогой и изумлением сейчас наблюдает все архитектурное сообщество. Просим вас проследить за мирным урегулированием конфликта, сохранив тем самым культурное наследие страны и репутацию учреждений культуры и архитектурного сообщества в России.
С уважением,
Евгений Асс, архитектор, художник, ректор архитектурной школы МАРШ
Андрей Баталов, доктор искусствоведения, профессор, заслуженный деятель искусств РФ, член президиума научно-методического совета по культурному наследию при Министерстве культуры РФ
Александр Бродский, архитектор, художник
Анна Броновицкая, кандидат искусствоведения, доцент МАРХИ, член секции по наследию советского периода Федерального научно-методического совета по наследию
Николай Васильев, искусствовед, генеральный секретарь Docomomo-Россия
Евгения Гершкович, искусствовед, журналист
Юрий Григорян, архитектор
Мария Гулида, архитектор
Александра Данилова, искусствовед, куратор, заместитель заведующего отделом искусства XIX—XX веков ГМИИ имени А.С. Пушкина
Наталья Душкина, профессор МАРХИ, член-основатель Международного научного комитета ICOMOS по наследию ХХ века
Валентин Дьяконов, критик, куратор, обозреватель ИД «Коммерсантъ»
Егор Егорычев, архитектор
Юлия Зинкевич, генеральный директор агентства «Правила общения»
Анастасия Измакова, архитектор
Ольга Казакова, кандидат искусствоведения, старший научный сотрудник НИИ теории и истории архитектуры и градостроительства
Олег Карлсон, архитектор «АСБ Карлсон и К»
Анна Карнеева, архитектор
Мария Качалова, архитектор
Евгения Кикодзе, искусствовед, куратор Музея Москвы
Наталья Копелянская, музеолог, эксперт творческой группы «Музейные решения»
Ольга Косырева, дизайн-критик, сооснователь Дизайн-лектория
Мария Кравцова, историк искусства
Виктория Кудрявцева, архитектор
Федор Лаврентьев, режиссер
Ольга Лебедева, ведущий архитектор «Ваухауса»;
Ирина Мак, искусствовед, журналист
Людмила Малкис, творческий директор ARCHiPEOPLE, генеральный директор ООО «Коммуникативное бюро Малкис»
Анастасия Маслова, архитектор
Анна Медлева, архитектор, член Союза архитекторов России, лауреат и дипломант российских и международных конкурсов
Наталья Меликова, фотограф, автор проекта The Constructivist Project
Михаил Молочников, художник
Анна Муравина, декоратор, дизайн-бюро MUGU Interiors, исполнительный директор ОДИ (Объединения декораторов интерьера)
Сергей Никитин, доцент факультета культурологии НИУ ВШЭ, руководитель Москультпрога
Елена Ольшанская, кинематографист, журналист
Игорь Пальмин, фотограф
Юрий Пальмин, архитектурный фотограф, преподаватель МАРШ и Британской высшей школы дизайна
Мария Панова, архитектор
Борис Пастернак, аттестованный эксперт Министерства культуры РФ, заместитель председателя научно-методического совета по культурному наследию при Мосгорнаследии, главный архитектор Центра градостроительных исследований
Алексей Петухов, искусствовед, старший научный сотрудник ГМИИ им. А.С. Пушкина
Мария Подъяпольская, историк архитектуры, экскурсовод
Анна Прошкуратова, архитектор
Григорий Ревзин, искусствовед, архитектурный критик, профессор Высшей школы урбанистики НИУ ВШЭ
Анна Родионова, архитектор
Евгений Романов, архитектор
Татьяна Романова, архитектор
Денис Ромодин, краевед, секретарь Московского отделения Docomomo-Россия
Эдуард Русенко, ГАП ООО «Ваухаус», художник
Наталья Самовер, историк
Владимир Седов, доктор искусствоведения, профессор, член-корреспондент РАН
Александра Селиванова, с.н.с. НИИ теории и истории архитектуры и градостроительства, куратор Лектория Музея Москвы
Евгения Сидорова, архитектор
Татьяна Скибо, архитектор
Ольга Солдатова, архитектор, художник, дизайнер
Евгения Стаханова, культуролог, соавтор проекта «Узнай Москву»
Юлия Тарабарина, историк искусства, журналист
Никита Токарев, член правления Союза московских архитекторов, директор МАРШ
Наталья Толстая, старший научный сотрудник Московского центра музейного развития, член президиума ICOM России
Наталья Троскина, искусствовед, член Московского отделения ICOMOS
Мария Трошина, искусствовед, главный редактор журнала «Проект International»
Валентина Федотова, архитектор-реставратор
Белла Филатова, архитектор
Ольга Хохлова, архитектор
Марина Хрусталева, историк архитектуры, член координационного совета Общественного движения «Архнадзор»
Александра Черткова, архитектор
Татьяна Эфрусси, искусствовед, научный сотрудник Музея МАРХИ
Александр Якут, художник, куратор, галерист, архитектор
Марина Ярмаркина, архитектор
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The Modernist: House-studio of Konstantin Melnikov

Published in THE MODERNIST #11: DOMESTIC, July 2014


House-studio of Konstantin Melnikov,

Natalia Melikova

On a small side street in the busy centre of Moscow, stands a peculiar looking white cylindrical house. Adding to its unusual appearance are numerous hexagonal windows making the house look like a round honeycomb. On the front facade the inscription reads, “Konstantin Melnikov – architect.” It would be fitting to add, “family man”.

Melnikov House The Modernist Magazine, #11 - Domestic

In 1917, when Konstantin Melnikov received his diploma in architecture, he was already married with two children. The international success of his Soviet pavilion at the Paris Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Art in 1925 put him in good favor back home in Moscow. Long hoping to build his own dwelling that combines his two passions, architecture and family, he was given a plot of land to realize his dream, and began the construction of his house-studio at 10 Krivoarbatsky Lane in 1927.

Family atmosphere particularly promoted the work of Konstantin, stimulating creativity. Therefore, it was decided to build not just a house, but a house-studio.

In designing his home, Konstantin was the client and customer, and was able to design the house exactly as he wanted. The construction of the house was very much an experiment in both ideology and design; every detail of the house was thought out and designed with purpose, incorporating Melnikov’s outlook on life.

The house is in the shape of two interlocking cylinders, with a front glass facade and over 60 hexagonal windows covering the remaining volume. The ground floor contains all the essentials of everyday living: it begins with the entryway corridor, and then going left to right, the dining room, kitchen, bathroom, two children’s rooms, a dressing room and a study for his wife.

Going up to the second floor, the living room is on the left and the family bedroom on the right. The 50 square meters’ worth of living room has ceilings of 4.85 meters high, and the large floor-to-ceiling window that makes up the front facade provides ample light for this spacious area.

Melnikov was a firm believer in the importance of sleep, so particular attention was paid to the space he created for where his family would rest. Everything in the bedroom is “soft” – the light from a row of hexagonal windows, the comforting honey-yellow color of the walls and ceiling, the rounded corners of the walls and window openings. The result makes for an ideal environment for sleep.

Melnikov House The Modernist Magazine, #11 - Domestic

Leaving the family portion of the house by going further up the spiral staircase to the third floor, the place of work is located. Also 50 square meters like the living room, the studio feels even more spacious due to the airy atmosphere created by the 38 hexagonal windows that are arranged from floor to ceiling. Melnikov worked in this area and later so did his son Viktor, who was a painter. From a small mezzanine balcony, there is access to the roof terrace, used for enjoying some tea or sunbathing in the summer.

The Melnikov House is striking in its space-volume composition, the many new plastic and color decisions of the interior, layout, design, functional discoveries and inventions and in its dissimilarity from any other building in the world. But, oddly enough, it is very cozy and comfortable. The house has a unique atmosphere and energy. Paintings by Konstantin and Viktor, father and son, architect and artist, still hang on the walls. And it feels as if the house still “breathes” art.

Since 1929 when the house was completed, it has attracted much attention and continues to draw curious visitors to its doorstep. To this day, the Melnikov House remains a family home. Konstantin Melnikov’s granddaughter, Ekaterina Karinskaya, currently lives there, fighting to ensure that the house is taken care of and becomes a proper museum as was wished by her family.

Melnikov House The Modernist Magazine, #11 - Domestic

Used as reference for this article: Egorychev, Egor. (2013). The Melnikov’s House: Konstantin and Viktor, Moskva Kotory Net.
Photos © Natalia Melikova

Reproduced from the printed version in


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Jean-Louis Cohen Comments on Narkomfin

Jean-Louis Cohen comments on the current situation surrounding the Narkomfin building

Жан-Луи Коэн комментирует текущую ситуацию вокруг дома Наркомфина

See photos of the renovation works going on inside the Narkomfin building in the past several months HERE.

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Narkomfin’s new life

(Translation from original article in Афиша-Город + photos/comments by Natalia Melikova in response)

“Guys, relax, you will not control us”: Narkomfin’s new life

Apartments in the Narkomfin building will be bought by friends of the owner, instead of preparing borscht will need to go to Coffeemania, and better to rebuild Shukhov Tower in New Moscow: “Gorod” talked with Alexander Senatorov, head of Kopernik, about the future of monument buildings.


Narkomfin is well on the way to its “new life”… – photo: April 11, 2014

In 2007, when you were involved with the Narkomfin building, then you wanted to do a boutique hotel, and now what will be there?

In the new concept we are keeping the function of Mosei Ginzburg’s original design. The residential block will remain residential, private apartments will be there. The communal block will remain as a public space: there, where the dining room was — will be a restaurant; where the kindergarten was planned — will be a children’s play center. And of course, we will return the original appearance to the building, which it lost because the first floor was built up. In addition, practical people attached garages and an upper floor to the communal block, and the joined windows they divided into normal windows — well, so that they opened. Plus the façade was badly damaged, which was made of the so-called kamyshit (cane fiber) — the last syllable of the word, “shit,” best describes this material.

One can say that kamyshit (cane fiber) was innovative for its time, but not a durable material.

Well, how to explain to you in a literary way? Eighty years ago out of shit they tried to sculpt something. We don’t have any delusions that we will be able to a large extent restore the facade out of the original material. But in terms of the exterior, the new facade will look like the same. In reference to heritage discourse – the one who does not sacrifice the small things, loses everything. The key value of the building is in its unique layout designs – this we will keep. But kamyshit will become history.

In 2007, your team of experts, including the architect Ginzburg’s grandson, prepared a restoration project. It was approved by Mosgornaslediya. Why did you decide to change the design and bring in another architect?

We rejected the idea of doing a boutique hotel because it is not very convenient to do it here. These apartments are good for living, but absurd as hotel rooms. Such large apartment would have cost about $1500-2000 a day for the hotel to be profitable. Nobody will pay that kind of money — not to mention the fact that we do not comply with any standards for people with disabilities, simply in each apartment there are stairs. Since we started this project, we went through a crisis, we went through a period of fruitful cooperation with the red banner Alfa-Bank (Senatorov was in litigation with the bank for several years. — editor’s note) — so we have had enough time to understand ourselves, the building, and what is worth doing here.

The current architect of the project is Nikolai Pereslegin, Advisor to the Head of Mosgornaslediya. That is, the contractor and controlling body are closely related. Will there be, as demanded by activists and historians of architecture, any independent monitoring expert committee?

The most important regulators of this project — it is our common sense and conscience. There should be one person who makes the decisions. That will be me.

(article from April 15, 2014:
Nikolai Pereslegin on saving the Narkomfin building / Николай Переслегин о спасении здания Наркомфина

“I became aware of the work currently being carried out at Narkomfin. I am fundamentally opposed. It is illegal. As far as I know, the work being carried out has already been stopped by an inspection by Mosgornaslediye.

It is my deep conviction that the potential restoration project should be as much as possible open, and public. It is very important to involve in the process of restoration, both professionals and the public. After all, Narkomfin is more than just a building. It is an icon of its time, a whole world for many people. Strange that this is not remembered.”

It is wonderful when there is good will and conscience. But even better when there is a system that can regulate itself.

In our country, there is no system. Institutionalism — this is not about our country. And what is the fright here that during the restoration of Narkomfin we need to build some kind of system that, you know, would protect this great monument from the investor, who already has invested in it many years of his life, and several million dollars of his money? A couple of months ago we met with this concerned public. People came, in varying degrees of aggression, asked questions and got answers to all of them. I showed them the concept and described everything in detail. But they have already embarked on a warpath, and some time later sent a letter with the question: “How are we going to control you?” Guys, relax, you will not control us in any way. And without your public control we have rather formal procedures with Mosgornaslediya. No one in our country has experience with the restoration of constructivism. And in the world, those who made this era are only maybe a couple of people. The basis of success is my common sense and my experience. I built a lot in Moscow. I understand how to solve problems that no one has yet solved.


Part of the “formal procedures” with Mosgornasledie – a letter from May 5, 2014 saying:
“Design documentation for review and approval has not been received by Mosgornaslediye, the permission to undertake works and any conclusions about the acceptability of the conversion of the interior and [or] nonresidential redevelopments has not been issued.”

From The Moscow Times article on April 13, 2014,
Constructivist Utopia Narkomfin Endangered by Renovation Project

“Senatorov says that he will welcome any outside help with the project, but eventually, all must go ahead as planned. ‘I am ready to accept any help if they want to help us,’ he said. ‘If you want to help us with advice, with money, with work, everything — everyone who wants to help, help! But we are owners, and we have to do the restoration. We can’t wait to see whether somebody will help us but if somebody wants to help us we are willing to accept it,’ said Senatorov.”

Preservationists complain that already old radiators have been illegally removed and windows are being changed to glazing (стеклопакеты).

I especially like this claim: “Ah! You are sawing off radiators!” So what? Well it’s a radiator. Let’s without fanfare and without this squeaking: “There’s no beer!” It can be said calmer — simply, there’s no beer. What is the value of engineering equipment, which represents old stinking sewer pipes? We need to preserve the layout. As a result of the restoration we will be able to keep most of the materials. Old pipes have no value.


“Old pipes with no value” – archival photo

And what about the windows?

Everyone already has come to photograph our new windows to post it on social networks, and to raise a tantrum. Well hello, guys, I did say at the meeting that this is a temporary solution. The result will be double glazing as before, but one of the layers will be glazing (стеклопакет). On the outside everything will look like as it did before, but in function we will get a quality noiseless glazing.

Narkomfin, new windows, west facade

New windows – western facade

Narkomfin original windows

Original windows intact – April 2014

For expensive housing an elevator is needed. And there were only two stairwells. You are not allowed to change the layout. What will you do about this?

We will carefully incorporate the elevators into the stairwells. This is the only change of layout that we are going forward with. Currently there is an ugly elevator adjoined to the far stairwell — we will remove it. But we cannot do without any elevator.

Narkomfin stairwell with elevator

March 17, 2014

Narkomfin stairwell with elevator

April 1, 2014

In reality, Narkomfin is a residential project. It is a Soviet utopian experiment on people, who were to live in cells with minimal household functions. From the point of view of modern man, a disturbing experiment. How can we reconcile our understanding of individual comfort with a careful restoration? How can a 30s dormitory be converted into luxury?

You know, perceptions change: what seems to be comfortable today will cease to be comfortable tomorrow. And then at some point, everything turns back — this is a cyclical process. And surprisingly, the housing that was invented in the 30s under the inhuman arrangement of society and daily life, today uncomfortable housing is becoming very practical. Ginzburg saw it the same way — they are all communists, they have a common table, laundry, in the morning they are supposed to go into these long corridors and do exercises there, and then go together to the cafeteria. But this was his idea of how life should be constructed, and in Soviet times it was uncomfortable. And people lived in these apartments without much pleasure. But today, the level of the development of services has reached such a state that to live in this format suddenly has become comfortable. Today this building more than meets the current ways of society. These city apartments present a small, but very hip in its architecture, two-level space. Ideal for one or two people. There are all services here — parking, restaurant, laundry and a recreation area on the roof. Yes, there is a small kitchen. Well, why does modern man need a big one — to boil a kettle and reheat pizza? In the communal block we will build a restaurant, presumably we will invite our friendly Coffeemania. Step out to eat or order home delivery. What else is needed? To cook borscht, to use a frying pan? Well it’s clear, the one who wants to cook borscht, will not get an apartment here.

And who are the people who will get [an apartment]?

Here there will be 42 apartments. Sales will be closed — a determined set of people on a list will be offered to buy them. Six months ago we moved here, and I have already brought various friends here. And many people come and say, “Awesome! Leave me one.” There are enough people like these, I have a large circle of friends. We do not have the idea to sell it more expensively, it is more important for us to restore the idea of communal housing in the modern sense. It will be a home for a determined set of people, pleasant to us.

What will happen to the roof?

Ginzburg originally planned to build a house with a flat roof. But after the project was already completed, the People’s Commissar of Finance Milutin said: “Where will I live?” Ginzburg threw up his hands in the air, and Milutin gestured: “Build it!” Besides, he was fond of architecture, which was at that time a quite fashionable pastime. So he himself designed the penthouse — a kind of button on the roof. With the Commissar one cannot really argue, so in front of it Ginzburg designed five more small one room apartments on the roof — to visually smooth out this bump. Out of these, we will create a mini-hotel with five rooms. We are thinking about organizing some kind of social life, about bringing in different interesting lecturers, to conduct exhibitions on the rooftop. Therefore, a hotel will come in handy, so that our guests could always stay there.



PHOTOS from April 11, 2014 of the roof and penthouse renovation

How much you have spent and how much more will you spend on this story? And how much will you potentially earn?

We have already spent about $18 million and plan to spend another $10-12 million plan to purchase the remaining areas and on restoration. We will sell the apartments and all public spaces will remain in our property to rent out for different services. This will be enough to make back everything.

View the apartments & prices:

Narkomfin, K apt renovation

one of the larger K apartments undergoing renovation – photo: April 22, 2014

Do you still need to buy up a lot?

In the building there are four apartments left with former tenants. Plus 1,300 meters belong to Moscow. Actually, out of it more than half needs to be destroyed — this is the illegally added on first floor and all sorts of additions in the utility block. If Moscow had removed all that is subject to demolition, then in fact, nothing would be left to it in the building. But it will not do this for anything. Can you imagine the official, who was entrusted with 1,300 meters in the building, and he went and destroyed half? Well he’s the enemy, and he should be shot. So we will buy up a lot and then break it — we are private owners, we can allow ourselves to do this.

What is the timeframe?

Timeframe depends on how quickly we will go through all the stages of negotiating the new concept. We hope to go through this procedure within a year and a half. And for the work itself much time is not needed — a year is enough.

How do you feel about what is going on with the monuments of constructivism in Moscow? For example, what do you think about the Shukhov Tower?

The Melnikova Research and Design Institute of Metal Construction, the former “Shukhov Workshop” — belongs to us. This is the main expert in the matter of what you can do with the tower. And anything can be done — it all depends on political will. We do not have established conceptions in our culture of what is actually valuable in architectural monuments. There is, for example, the Dutch system of preservation — they preserve all the materials and structures. But the British have a more pragmatic and utilitarian view of life. To them, it is the human idea and the design that is valuable: “A man thought up that this looked like this and stands like this? Very well then, let’s demolish all this trash and with new technologies we will build it in the same way.” We haven’t yet defined what to regard as valuable — we jump from one extreme to another.

And what do you personally think it’s worth doing with the tower?

Personally I like most of all the concept that we came up with. It may sound harsh and unpleasant. But in the current state of the tower to preserve it in the same place is impossible. The Ministry of Communications does not need it there. Now begins the endless correspondence — the Ministry of Culture will write: “Restore it!” And the Ministry of Communications will respond: “We have no money”; — “Restore it!”, “We have no money,” … And like this it will crash down. Metal rivets are already flying from it. At the same time the lowest estimates to restore it at the same place are 400 million rubles. And to build a new, exactly identical one — 80 million. Feel the difference.

Well, in addition to the high cost there are such aspects as authenticity and the memory of the place.

These things have value, but not for the Shukhov Tower, because it is a symbol of engineering. This is not architecture. I understand — the Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, where all stroll. And what is here? It is not even visible from most places. It can be relocated to any other place. As for authenticity, in its present state with the restoration in place, for 400 million rubles under the most optimistic estimates 25% of the materials can be kept. And what kind of historical authenticity can one say about this? We propose a radical design, a bit rowdy. After all the initial project of the Shukhov Tower was supposed to be much higher — 350 meters high, that is the highest at that time. But during the Civil War it worked out to make it only 148 meters. And that’s what we are proposing: we cut it down, all the old, authentic material melted, add to it new metal, and then from this mixture in a new location build a tower in its initial 350-meter form. In this case its function of a transmitter is returned to it. I would have it built in New Moscow so that the tower became an attraction and a symbol — a combination of old and new. In the end, something is lost, but something is found. Well, this old tower is lost at its former place — on the plus side a new, even better one appears — a tall, beautiful tower, which had never been built before.

Shukhov Tower

“a new tower is better than this (^above pictured) old one”

There is a feeling that monuments of constructivism here are particularly unlucky. They are adored by foreign art historians and architects, but here they are in a wildly derelict state and not appreciated. Home come?

Because in the 1930s they experimented and built out of shit. And current statesmen do not understand the charms of these strange angular shapes. And the fact that out of this emerged all of modern and functional design, such as Ikea — that they do not care about: “And where are the soft sofas, where’s the gold plating?” This judgment call is associated with the level of education and culture. I have a funny story about a real monument of architecture, which is seen out of our window — Novinsky Passage. At the opening ceremony Mayor Luzhkov in his flashy style commented on the neighborhood: “What a joy that in our city such wonderful, new shopping centers are appearing — not such junk” — pointing in the direction of Narkomfin. Because — well, that building is old, not a palace, who needs it? Neither lions nor reliefs for you. Minimalism — this is generally a philosophy that is quite difficult to understand.

Already eight years that you have been involved with this building. Have you regretted that you got involved in this story?

Of course I regretted, and not once. At some point you think: “Dang, I have put in there so much money, and it would have come in so handy now.” But the money is gone, and so there’s nothing to regret — moving on. I just love this house. It has a fantastic force of energy.

Check out the response to this interview:

“To treat Narkomfin as his own dacha is presumptuous”: response to Senatorov

The interview with Alexander Senatorov about the future of Narkomfin caused a strong reaction in the professional community. Former representative of the Narkomfin Foundation and chief editor of Moscow Heritage, Yana Mirontseva told Gorod what the “concerned public” wants from Senatorov.

(Full translation of the response in progress)

«Зарядочка — а потом в столовую»
Глава группы «Коперник» Александр Сенаторов — о том, кто и как будет жить в Доме Наркомфина после реставрации

Восстановление дома Наркомфина начнется в обозримом будущем

Дом Наркомфина — варварское освоение вместо реставрации

Дому Наркомфина требуется полноценная реставрация, а не косметический ремонт

Police Halt ‘Illegal’ Renovations in Narkomfin

Ремонтные работы в доме Наркомфина продолжаются несмотря на заявление о том, что они остановлены

Власти Москвы пресекли незаконные строительные работы в Доме Наркомфина

Николай Переслегин о спасении здания Наркомфина

В доме Наркомфина продолжается незаконный и разрушительный ремонт

Constructivist Utopia Narkomfin Endangered by Renovation Project

Александр Сенаторов вернулся в конструктивизм
“Коперник” обновил проект восстановления дома Наркомфина

->Collection of news articles about Narkomfin starting from 2000

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