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Read the article for what happens if you mix concrete and reeds, which makes the same house look different and where to find a movie star house in Moscow.

Many monuments of constructivism have survived in Moscow. And these are not only world famous Shukhov tower, House of Narkomfin or the work of an avant-garde architect Konstantin Melnikov… There are more than 40 residential quarters in Moscow, built in the late 1920s – early 1930s. They are characterized by rigor, utility, geometric and laconic forms – the architects focused on expressive volumes.

Over the past decades, houses have fallen into disrepair, in some of them there have been no major repairs for many years. We will tell you how Fund for capital repairs of Moscowrenews the legacy of constructivism and what it manages to preserve in houses for the construction of which the most unexpected materials were used.

For quality of life and impact work

Residential quarters of the epoch of constructivism bear the conditional name “workers’ settlements”. The explanation is simple: in the first half of the 20th century, industry developed rapidly and factory workers needed housing. So the idea was born to create settlements for workers near the production site. The architects took the task seriously – it was not a typical building, but full-fledged neighborhoods created according to an individual project. Almost each had its own infrastructure: a canteen, a kindergarten, a club, a laundry – everything you need for a comfortable life, which means shock work.

However, at the end of the 1920s – beginning of the 1930s, there was a shortage of building materials and workers. This was the reason that reeds were periodically used for the walls – a mixture of reeds and concrete. Due to the fault of this fragile and short-lived material, many houses of that time are under threat of destruction.

“Among the most famous quarters of the constructivist era are Dangauerovka, Khavsko-Shabolovsky, Budennovsky, Usachevka and Dubrovsky. In total, these are almost 300 apartment buildings. And the task of the Fund for Capital Repair of Moscow is not only to put these buildings in order and make them comfortable for life again, but also to bring them as close as possible to the historical portrait, ”said Artur Keskinov, General Director of the Fund for Capital Repair of Moscow.

Over the decades, workers’ settlements have noticeably changed their appearance. Some houses have been added and the number of floors has increased. Unfortunately, some of the houses were not preserved, and some were included in the list of cultural heritage sites. Today, major repairs are underway in almost all workers’ settlements.

House from the movie

There are real movie stars among the workers’ settlements. We are talking about the residential area Dangauerkovka, which was named after the German businessman Heinrich-Karl Dangauer. In 1869, he founded a nearby boiler and foundry (today it is the Compressor plant).

In 1928, Dangauerkovka was conceived as a workers’ settlement for 45 thousand people. After the October Revolution, this was one of the very first large-scale construction projects. Of the more than 40 houses that were designed by architects under the leadership of Mikhail Motylev, only 24 were built. Half of them are now recognized as cultural heritage sites. If the plan had been fully implemented then, the village would have become the largest in the country.

It is in Dangauerovka on Prud-Klyuchiki street that house 3 is located, where Sergei Zhuravlev lived – the protagonist of Marlen Khutsiev’s painting “I’m 20” (“Ilyich’s Outpost”).

Major repairs in a residential building – a monument of constructivism were done only in 1956, so the building was in a deplorable state. And in 2021, the house was thoroughly renovated. Experts have repaired the facades, replaced windows and doors, and communications. They also repaired stairs, basements, and put in order the entrances.

By the way, during the work, the builders found railway rails in the basement instead of a channel (support part, lintel. – Ed.). The unusual find is explained by the shortage of metal, which was during the construction of the house in the 1920s – 1930s.

Completed renovation of the facade of the house from the movie “I’m twenty years old”

For officers of the Red Army

This year, the facade of the house in Budennovsky town (Bolshaya Pochtovaya street, house 18/20, building 3) was also transformed. The custom-built, four-story apartment building, built in 1926, had cracks and chips on its walls, and its brickwork was dilapidated.

The facades of the house are decorated with window sills and cornices, the entrance groups are highlighted by projections. These decorative elements protrude from the main part of the building and run along its entire length.

The village in Budennovsky town was intended for the officers of the Workers ‘and Peasants’ Red Army. The team of authors of the project was headed by the same Mikhail Motylev. An original feature of the layout is a curved internal passage that crosses courtyards of various shapes. This gave the houses better insolation, and passers-by were able to perceive the architecture inside the residential area in dynamics. The same house is perceived differently depending on the angle of view.

With pilasters and arched vault

In the village of Vostochny this year, overhaul was completed at two facilities. In the 1930s, housing was built here for the workers of the waterworks, which was launched in 1937 and provided the capital with water from the Volga. The house at the address: Vostochny village, Main street, house 5 was built at the same time, in 1937. There are 28 apartments in a three-storey building. You can get into them through four entrances decorated with columns. But the main attention is attracted by the terraces – there are nine of them in the house, they are decorated with an arched vault and pilasters. And the outer walls of the first floor are marked with rough hewn stones.

For almost 85 years of operation, the physical wear and tear of the facade amounted to 60 percent, the basement plaster cracked, the brickwork was dilapidated. Experts thoroughly cleaned and renewed all surfaces, put in order structural, engineering and decorative elements.

A three-storey house at 3 Main Street was also built in 1937. It has an unusual broken shape. There are three entrances to the building, the side entrance groups are decorated with a row of columns. Here, too, the facade was repaired and all communications were replaced.

In the avant-garde style

Until the end of 2021 overhaul will be completed houses 31, building 1 on Bolshaya Serpukhovskaya street. The six-story building, built in 1926, is part of the Zamoskvoretsky Rabochy ensemble. Some of the houses have not survived to this day, but for the rest it was recommended to issue a protection status.

Architect Valentin Bibikov designed the ensemble in an avant-garde style. The buildings are distinguished by austerity and laconism of forms, in some of them you can distinguish small triangular projections with miniature windows. They are also located near building 1 of building 31. Bay windows are also located on the main facade. The first floor from the street side is decorated with rustic wood; there is a crowning cornice and interfloor belts along the perimeter. The windows are decorated with platbands. The brick facades are painted white and yellow.

Under the overhaul program, the heating, water supply and sewerage systems have already been replaced in the house, and a new power supply network has been installed. Experts cleaned the facades of old plaster, treated them with antiseptics and painted them. Work is being completed at the entrances of the house.

The neighboring second and third buildings of house 31 are waiting for their turn, project documentation is now being developed. And work in the fifth building will begin in 2022.

ZIL, Shukhov Tower and Khlebozavod: Discover Moscow will tell about the monuments of constructivismOverhaul with history: how to renovate residential buildings-monuments in Moscow

The program of the Fund for Overhaul of Moscow Apartment Buildings includes 383 cultural heritage sites. The task of specialists is to preserve the pristine beauty and architectural features of such buildings as much as possible. Now work goes in 114 residential buildings-monuments, in 14 of them – restoration.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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