Architecture is timeless: This year’s best restoration projects

18 December 2017

This year saw a record number of submissions, 100, for the award of the best cultural heritage site restoration project. Find out more about the restoration projects selected by the jury and Muscovites favourites in this article.

Moscow is a city where skyscrapers and modern business centres rest happily beside centuries-old buildings and mansions that used to be the homes of merchants and princes. Much work is under way to preserve the city’s unique heritage for future generations and adapt historical buildings for modern use.

More than 900 buildings and other landmarks have been renovated since 2011, with 182 of them completed this year. As usual, the best projects have received awards in the Moscow Restoration competition. The projects included: Baron von Rekk’s estate mansion on Pyatnitskaya Street, monuments to Alexander Pushkin and Maxim Gorky, the flower beds of the VDNKh, the Ostafyevo estate, and many others.

They competed in the Best Project, Highest Quality and Best Organisation of Works, and Best Research Work categories.

House with lions: late modernism mansion

Baron von Rekk’s estate mansion, also known as the House with Lions, was voted best restoration project in 2017 by Muscovites on the Active Citizen website.

The mansion on Pyatnitskaya Street was built in 1897 on commission from Wilhelmina Rekk, the wife of Yakov Rekk, the head of the Nikolskiye Ryady Partnership and the founder of the Moscow Trade and Construction Joint-Stock Company. The building is generously decorated with mouldings and has a monumental portico, columns, and a front window with two caryatids. The left part of the building is an octagonal tower with round windows and a scaled dome of a sophisticated shape.

The mansion received its unofficial name due to the sculptures of lying lions on both sides of the front portico.

Several finely decorated great halls inside the building have been preserved: the mirror hall, the Mauritanian hall, the baroque hall, the music hall, and the entrance hall. The restoration work included taking down the partitions between them, renovating the windows, doors, parquet, moulded plaster décor with gold and silver plating, and the paintings on the cartouches and under the dome in one of the halls.

Ostafyevo estate

This is one of the few remaining Russian country estates in the Moscow region from the turn of the 19th century. The property belonged to Princes Vyazemsky and their heirs for a long time. Ostafyevo was also home to Nikolai Karamzin, the author of The History of the Russian State, who lived and worked here for a long while.

The estate has changed a lot over the 200 years of its history, with the interior almost completely dilapidated. In 2011, the restoration began. The belvedere above the main house was rebuilt, which gave back the palace-style look to the architectural complex.

The stoves were covered with ceramic tiles; the architectural detail of the ground and first floors was recreated; and columns of the smaller order were installed in the bedroom and the sitting room. Renovators used photographs from the early 20th century to restore the geometry of the vault, the cultured marble, and the semi-circular window in the oval hall.

The building was also adapted for modern use. A conference hall was designed into the semi-basement; and the stairway addition of the eastern risalit was fitted with a hydraulic platform for visitors with disabilities. The main bulk of the restoration was completed in 2016; the park with the Temple of Apollo gazebo was renovated in 2017.

House with mouldings

The house in Denezhny Pereulok, which was home to the merchant Nikolai Bol and the owner of one of the biggest music publishing companies in pre-revolution Russia, Karl Gutheil, was rebuilt in 1887. It had previously been a one-storey Empire-style wooden structure.

As designed by architect Vladimir Gavrilov, the main entrance was built from the street side with a mezzanine and a balcony above it, and the façade was decorated with somewhat classicistic mouldings.

Composer Sergei Rakhmaninov would often come to this house in the 1890s to see his friend and publisher Karl Gutheil. After the revolution, the mansion housed the New Moscow publishing company, and later—communal flats. By the 1960s, the balcony on the façade was gone, and the stoves were disassembled. In the late 1980s, the building was refurbished and transferred to the Foreign Ministry but within 20 years, the mansion needed emergency repairs. The reconstruction began in 2016. The façade, roof and floors were restored; the mouldings and interior finishing renovated; and a new electrical and a ventilation system installed.

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