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#25 - JRL 9135 - JRL Home
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2005
Subject: Ninth bulletin from the Moscow Architecture Preservation Society (MAPS)
From: Clem Cecil <clemm@dircon.co.uk>
28.04.2005 00:26
Ninth bulletin from the Moscow Architecture Preservation Society (MAPS)

In this bulletin there are shocking new statistics obtained by MAPS about the extent of demolition undergone by Moscow’s built heritage in the last ten years. There are about 10,000 historic buildings in Moscow, compared to 30,000 before the 1917 revolution. These buildings need to be protected. This is more important than rebuilding 17th century wooden palaces as Mayor Luzhkov proposes to do at Kolomenskoye (see below). The Manezh has been restored in record time with much fanfare from the authorities and indignation from preservationists. An important complex of Constructivist housing is under threat of demolition. Meanwhile, some better news about the future of Nikolaev’s Constructivist hostel which may set a precedent for sensitive conversion of buildings of the Constructivist period. Putin has stepped into the debate over Russia’s listed buildings for the first time, saying that only privatisation can save them. The alarm was sounded at an ICOMOS confere! nce in Moscow for the future of Mayakovsky metro station, which is under threat of collapse according to experts, and the famous sculpture to Minin and Pozharsky on Red Square is due to be moved following a survey that revealed 2,000 flaws. The Conference “Heritage at Risk” is postponed to April 2006.

1. Shocking new demolition statistics!

2. Manezh Completed!

3. Under Threat!

4. Luzhkov to resurrect 1667 wooden palace at Kolomenskoye

5. Putin speaks out in favour of the privatisation of listed buildings

6. ICOMOS Conference, Moscow

7. Mayakovsky Metro Station under threat of collapse

8. Putin quickens work on the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theatres

9. A new precedent for the restoration of Moscow’s precious Constructivist legacy?

10. Moscow’s first monumental sculpture to be dismantled!

11. Conference “Heritage at Risk”

Shocking new demolition statistics!

MAPS has received shocking new statistics that reveal the extent of the destruction of old buildings in Moscow over the last ten years. Approximately 1,150 buildings have been demolished over the last five years. 267 buildings were knocked down with the permission of the Demolition Commission in 2001, and 312 in 2002.

There are 9,000-10,000 pre-revolutionary buildings in Moscow and about 3,500 listed buildings. (This includes monuments, gardens and parks etc). About 150-200 of these have been demolished, reconstructed or completely distorted, over the last 10 years. Between 2005-2010, the city government intends to declare 650-700 buildings in the centre of Moscow unsound, and therefore due for demolition. According to our source, the City government is also preparing to reconstruct hundreds of residential buildings with wooden partitions, and to replace them with reinforced concrete. This is not to prevent fire, but to increase the number of investment projects, as demanded by a new programme for housing construction in the centre of town. This policy will also apply to listed buildings.

How decisions on demolition are taken in Moscow: The Demolition Commission (official name Commission for Questions of the Conservation of Buildings in Moscow’s Historic Districts) meets every two weeks, and at every meeting about ten cases are considered, and as a rule 70 % of the proposals for demolition are approved. The commission has two levels: the basic commission under the chairmanship of V.I Resin and a working group which works under the auspices of GKON, (the State Committee for the Preservation of Heritage, the new name for GUOP). The working group meets approximately every 2 weeks depending on how many buildings need to be dealt with. Resin’s commission deals with the more scandalous and ‘important’ buildings, and it meets rarely, depending on demand.

2.Manezh Completed!

It must be one of the fastest restoration jobs in history. Thirteen months after the fire that gutted one of Moscow's most famous buildings, the 1817 Manezh, it has reopened among much pomp. The former Imperial Riding School lost its roof in last year’s fire, an extraordinary structure of 45 meter larch beams. When the building was completed it was the biggest single space in Europe (45m by 150m). During Soviet times it was used as a garage and then an exhibition hall.

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov announced that he wanted work finished in time for the 60th anniversary of the victory over the Nazis. Work is estimated by Ivestiya newspaper to have cost $50 million and restoration experts are fuming at the speed of the work and the sloppy restoration of the building, originally built to honor the fifth anniversary of Russia's victory over Napoleon.

Indeed some doubt whether the work done on the Manezh can actually be called restoration (see MAPS news section).

3. Under Threat!

The ‘Hostels of the Red Professor Institute’ (1929-1932) by D.P.Osipov and A.M.Rukhlyadev, a complex of experimental Constructivist housing, is under threat of demolition. These seven elegant buildings were constructed to house trainee military teachers and hold a key position opposite the Novodevichy Monastery in southern Moscow. Osipov is a well-known Moscow architect of the period and the complex was under consideration for listing until earlier this year. Its dilapidated condition was the justification for removing it from the list, but it is more likely that it was pressure exerted by the developers, one of Moscow’s most powerful companies, who have shown an interest in the site. The complex is now unprotected and is under imminent threat of demolition while the developers work on plans for an elite housing complex to replace it.

4. Luzhkov to resurrects 1667 wooden palace at Kolomenskoye.

Moscow’s Mayor, not content with plans to ‘complete’ the ruin at Tsaritsyno (see MAPS bulletin 6) has decided to rebuild Kolomenskoye palace, the wooden palace of Alexei Mikhailovich, father of Peter the Great. The palace was built in 1667 and demolished on the orders of Catherine II in the late eighteenth century. Luzhkov announced that the reconstruction will be completed by 2007. “It will be the real palace ensemble of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich,” he said. The project is estimated to cost 10million roubles ($350,000).MAPS feels that it is wrong that money is being spent on reconstructing the past while thousands of Moscow’s authentic historic buildings are in dire need of conservation and maintenance (see also interview with A. Batalov on http://www.regnum.ru/news/440103.html).

5. Putin Speaks out in favour of the Privatisation of listed buildings

President Putin has taken an unprecedented interest in the future of Russia’s listed buildings. At a joint session of the State Council Presidium, and the Presidium of the Presidential Council for Culture and the Arts on March 23, Putin said that the future of Russia’s built heritage depended on private capital. "We shall certainly not cope without private investment," he said, citing the statistics that only 35 per cent of Russia’s listed buildings are in a satisfactory condition. This statement is likely to quicken draft legislation concerning the privatisation of Russia’s listed buildings.

6. ICOMOS Conference, Moscow

MAPS attended the conference, “Conservation of cultural heritage. International and national experience,” which marked the 40th anniversary of The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). MAPS gave two papers, drawing on German experience of regulation in historic zones, and on the British preservation society, SAVE Europe’s Heritage, which is presently gathering information for a report on Moscow. As well as being a celebration of ICOMOS’s work, the day was full of alarming news. In his opening speech, Director of Moscow’s Art Research Institute, Alexei Komech, told of plans for an archaeological dig beside St Basil’s cathedral and the construction of a shopping centre between the Kremlin and Pashkov House. He also said that the Kremlin Embankment is to be developed, with an extra platform constructed over the road for traffic or pedestrians. Following these developments Komech suggested lobbying for the Kremlin to be removed from the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites since the entire Kremlin zone is being transformed into a Disney World of replicas of old buildings and shopping centres.

7. Mayakovsky Metro Station under threat of collapse

Nina Alyoshina, head architect at ‘Metrogiprotrans’ sounded the alarm on the future of Mayakovsky metro station. A second vestibule is to be built on to the metro station, adding to pressure on the station. Alyoshina said that water is gathering on top of the pillars, threatening their collapse. She said rot and corrosion had taken hold of the station and that the internal structure needs to be stripped and dried out. Alyoshina said that surveys on the station were not thorough enough. Mayakovskaya metro station was built in 1937-38 by Alexei Dushkin, with exquisite mosaics by Deineka. This light and graceful station was one of the deepest stations on the metro at the time of its construction. In November 1941 Stalin held a meeting here to mark the anniversary of the 1917 revolution, when the Nazis were on the edge of Moscow.

8. Putin quickens work on the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theatres

Mid March at a press conference in the Bolshoi Theatre, Putin gave his approval to the reconstruction projects for Moscow and St Petersburg’s leading theatres and urged work to commence without delay. For the first time, Putin displayed his awareness of the corruption within the construction world, saying: “The constant increase of the budget for reconstruction indicates that everyone involved wants to make money out of this. This is not surprising. But the important thing is that their profit and state financing remain within the framework of existing world norms.” The president also urged workers not to rush, saying that the situation in the country was stable enough to allow work to be funded steadily over the years.

The Mariinsky is planning to use the Alexander Theatre in Helsinki as its temporary home while Dominique Perrault’s extension is constructed. Perrault's building is estimated to cost 220 million Euros and the controversial golden ‘wrapping’ that was to cover it is now to be transparent. The Bolshoi theatre troupe will use the Kremlin Palace for its performances while an estimated 1 billion dollars is spent on its reconstruction (for details see MAPS bulletin 7).

9. A new precedent for the restoration of Moscow’s precious Constructivist legacy?

Hope that the authorities are waking up to the necessity of conserving Moscow’s Constructivist legacy has been encouraged by a new restoration project for Nikolaev’s ›Hostel for students of the Textile Institute’ (1929-30). The state is funding this project and the curator of the restoration project is Alexander Kudryavtsev, President of the Russian Academy of Architecture and Building Sciences. This enormous complex of student accommodation and significant Constructivist building has lain in a semi-ruinous state for decades. The developer proposes to preserve function of the building, keeping it as a hostel. One third of one of the floors is to be preserved in its original state as a ‘museum’, and the other parts of the building are to be adapted. Boris Pasternak, member of the Scientific-Methodical council in the the State Committee for the Preservation of Heritage is happy with the compromises suggested so far and said, “if the project continues in the same vein! then it will be an important precedent. Detailed restoration of the building is to be conducted and the basic structure of the building will be untouched.” Kulishch is the architect behind the project. The preliminary project was approved by the scientific-methodical council in February 2005.

10. Moscow’s first monumental sculpture to be dismantled!

Restorer, Elena Bakalyarova spoke at the ICOMOS conference about the recent survey of the famous monument to Minin and Prince Pozharsky on Red Square. Two thousand defects have been found in the sculpture. A piece of the relief fell off in 2001 and killed a passer by. It has been suggested that it be moved inside, where it can be kept in a to an regulated atmosphere. Ms Bakalyarova said that it had been suggested to create a museum dedicated to 17th century Moscow with the monument as its central exhibit in which case the original in Red Square would be replaced with a copy. The sculpture was erected in 1818 by public subscription and marks the victory over the Poles in 1612. Prince Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin rallied the Russians against the Poles. Minin was a butcher from Nizhny Novgorod whose citizens funded the volunteer army. The monument stood opposite Lenin’s Mausoleum until it was moved in the thirties to make way for parades.

11. Conference Alert!

The Conference, “Heritage at Risk: Preservation of 20th Century Architecture and World Heritage” originally planned for September this year is now to be held 17-20 April 2006. It is being organised by The Russian Academy of Architecture and Building Sciences, the Moscow Committee for Architecture (Moskomarchitektura), the Shusev State Museum of Architecture and many other Russian national organisations with support of the ICOMOS International and DOCOMOMO International. The conference will be dedicated to the fate of buildings of the Soviet Avant-garde, recognised throughout the world as masterpieces, many of which are today in a ruinous condition. The principles and methods of the preservation of 20th century architecture will also be discussed. The conference will be held in English and Russian. If you would like the take part in the conference, write to the President of The Russian Academy of Architecture and Building Sciences, Alexander Kudryavtsev: rector@marhi.ru (send copies to Natalya Dushkina ndushkina@mail.cnt.ru and Anke Zalivako zalivako@baugeschichte.a.tu-berlin.de) The deadline for abstracts for papers is 30 June 2005.

The Moscow Architecture Preservation Society (MAPS) was set up in May 2004 by a group of international journalists. We work in close cooperation with preservationists, architects and historians within Russia and abroad to raise awareness about the present destruction of the city's historical buildings.

Through these contacts, we are working to give Russian preservationists and Muscovites a greater international voice. We believe that every effort should be made to preserve certain buildings. We invite experts to advise on more sustainable approaches to the historic built environment. Through such work MAPS hopes to convince the Moscow Government, developers and architects that the unchecked demolition of old Moscow is not in the city’s long-term interest.