Melnikov House at risk of collapse, warn
architects and heritage experts

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Melnikov House at risk of collapse, photo by dbasulto

News: the iconic 1920s Moscow home of Russian avant-garde architect Konstantin Melnikov is showing signs of serious structural damage as work continues on a large complex next door, warn heritage experts and international architects including Rem Koolhaas and Ɓlvaro Siza.

The cylindrical Melnikov House, located on Krivoarbatsky Lane off the Arbat pedestrian strip, has developed "numerous new cracks" and accrued damage to its foundations as a result of the construction of a mixed-use scheme nearby, according to an appeal addressed to Russian president Vladimir Putin and posted on the website of Moscow-based preservation watchdog Archnadzor last week.

The risk of losing the "masterpiece of twentieth century world architecture", which was designed by Melnikov as a home and studio, had "grown significantly" said the post, as reported in the New York Times.

Melnikov House at risk of collapse, photo by qwz

The architect's granddaughter and current occupant of the house, Ekaterina Karinskaya, believes the greatest threat to the physical condition of the house is the three-level underground parking garage for the building planned behind the house.

The walls of the garage would block the path of groundwater and flood the Melnikov House, she explained in a report posted on the US website of international heritage watchdog Docomomo.

"All of this is being done in order to simply destroy the house," said Karinskaya. "They cannot just knock it down because it will draw a widely negative response. So they haveĀ dug from two sides, setting off processes underneath in the soil.

"Now they will build a dam so thatĀ the houseĀ would crumble down by itself. And once that happens, they will say 'well, what did you expect, [the house] is oldā€¦ it'sĀ over now,Ā it's dead'."

Another open letter called for the preservation of the house as a public museum to house all Melnikov's archival material, most of which is currently inaccessible to researchers.

The letter, whose signatories included architects Rem Koolhaas, Ɓlvaro Siza and Arata Isozaki, also demanded "fair compensation of the Melnikov family for their efforts to preserve it".

Architects Peter Eisenman, Kenneth Frampton, Steven Holl, Alberto PĆ©rezā€GĆ³mez and Bernard Tschumi were also among the letter's signatories.

Moscow's expansion continues apace with a proposal to build a new district around manmade waterwaysĀ and the recently completedĀ skyscraper Mercury City, which last year usurped Renzo Piano'sĀ The ShardĀ as the tallest building in EuropeĀ ā€“ see all news and architecture from Moscow.

In New York this week the Museum of Modern Art announced plans to demolish the American Folk Art Museum next door, just 12 years after it was completed by US architectsĀ Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.

Top photograph is by dbasulto and lower photograph is by qwz.

  • http://www.zazous.co.uk Kate Austin

    Same thing happens in Margate. The listed scenic railway that was the last remaining part of Dreamland was mysteriously burnt down when the owners had been trying to get permission to demolish and build a housing development for years. Now there is a state of impasse but there will hopefully be a compulsory purchase of the site and Dreamland will rise again! Unfortunately if the local government in Moscow also wants this beautiful house destroyed I don’t see how it will be saved.

  • LaureR

    That sounds outrageous! It is indeed an amazing work of art. Dictators don’t like culture, they see it as a threat. That’s why this type of building should be protected by laws above particular governments.

  • Asbjoern Andresen

    Indifference is a big threat to culture.