SNEAK PEEK: The Constructivist Project is in the process of being redesigned – the new website is planned to be launched in early 2017.
SNEAK PEEK: The Constructivist Project is in the process of being redesigned – the new website is planned to be launched in early 2017.
On September 14 the discussion Saving Constructivism: Theory and Practice including the presentation of the Constructivist Moscow Map was held at the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow.
Photographs from the event can be found here.
Photos by Gleb Leonov / Strelka Institute
Next planned presentation of the Constructivist Moscow Map will be at the Pushkin House in London on October 19. More info will be posted as it becomes available. See you there!
The map can be ordered online via Blue Crow Media.
This dual language (English and Russian) guide features over 50 remarkable examples of Constructivist architecture from celebrated architects and engineers such as Melnikov, Ginzburg, Shukhov, the Vesnins and others. Buildings such as Melnikov House and Narkomfin are included along with Shukhov Tower and the Izvestia Building. Details for each structure include the location, years built, and architects responsible along with photographs by Natalia Melikova, author of The Constructivist Project.
Two sided, with a map on one side and text and photos on the other, it opens to 42cm x 60cm and folds down to 21cm x 15cm, and is protected by a wide band.
This two-sided, dual language, folding map features over fifty leading examples of Constructivist architecture in Moscow, from Melnikov House and Shukhov Tower to the Narkomfin and Izvestia Buildings. The map celebrates the avant garde landmarks of the early Soviet era, including workers’ clubs, garages, communal housing, factories, headquarters and more. The reverse side of the map features an introduction to Constructivism by Natalia Melikova and Nikolai Vassiliev, photos by Melikova and details about each building in English and Russian.
Perfect for a walking tour or framing, this map measures slightly larger than A2 open, folds to slightly larger than A5 and is protected by a wide band.
The map will be shipping from 5 September 2016.
See a preview of the map here.
Announcing: the month of March as Shukhov Month!
March 19th is the tower’s birthday: 94 this year! To celebrate and take advantage of the tower’s inclusion in the 2016 World Monuments Watch list of 50 at-risk cultural heritage sites around the world (#2016WMWatch) – The Constructivist Project is making the month of March Shukhov Month (#ShukhovMonth) dedicated to Vladimir Shukhov and his many contributions to science, technology, and engineering, and the star of the show – the Shukhov Tower!
Check out the program for Shukhov Tower Watch Day on March 19 and 20.
Two years ago, the shocking plans to dismantle and relocate the tower that were announced by the Ministry of Communications instigated an intense international campaign calling for the preservation of the tower in its historic location and restoration without dismantling. These plans that would have meant the effective destruction of the tower were cancelled, and in spring of 2015 the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage tasked the Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network to conduct emergency works on the tower to be completed by the 4th quarter of 2016. At present, the top section that was added to the tower in 1991 has already been removed, and a support structure has been constructed inside the tower. However, the question of a comprehensive scientific restoration is still up in the air and demands prompt attention.
For its part, The Constructivist Project is happy to being working with The Shukhov Tower Foundation, Avant-Garde Center, and Docomomo Russia to highlight the many achievements of Vladimir Shukhov during Shukhov Month, and invites anyone interested to contribute to this celebration. For more information, please write to email@example.com.
To kick off Shukhov Month, check out:
Archive of articles about the Shukhov Tower:
Shukhov Tower in the news
Bird’s eye view of the Shukhov Tower:
Recent photographs of the Shukhov Tower (February 2016):
The Constructivist Project Poster/Prints is a body of work that documents, transforms and brings attention to avant-garde architecture. The 27 x 35 inch silk screened posters feature a photographic image of architecture, originally captured on black and white film, with text that informs of the name of the architecture, the architect(s) and year(s) of construction. Inspired by avant-garde graphic design of the 1920s, in the signature constructivist color palette of red, black, grey, and white, the posters draw attention to the uniqueness and importance of such architecture. Additional multi-colored PRINTS were created to further transform the underlying photograph into a variety of images.
See the full inventory of prints for sale HERE.
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.
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.
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).
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: http://muar.ru/dom-melnikova, https://www.facebook.com/melnikovmuseum.
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.
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 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,
[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.
In addition to running The Constructivist Project, I am co-creator of narkomfin.net; 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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to your feedback!
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NEW! If you would like to sign up for the newsletter, send an email to email@example.com with the subject “newsletter” and a few words about yourself and interest in The Constructivist Project.
Помимо управления проекта The Constructivist Project, я со-автор narkomfin.net; 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).
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Я с нетерпением жду ваших отзывов!
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NEW! Если вы хотите, чтобы подписаться на рассылку, отправьте письмо на email@example.com с темой “newsletter” и несколько слов о себе и интерес к The Constructivist Project.
PDF version: Resolution_RussianAvantgarde