If you happen to be in Moscow, drop everything and visit the Vkhutemas gallery, on Rozhdestvenka Street, where you can join the fight to preserve the iconic Melnikov House –
The innovative cylindrical house, designed in the late 1920s by Russian avant-garde architect Konstantin Melnikov, is at risk of destruction. A group of developers — the almost-too-perfect-to-be-real Trust-Oil company — is building a large commercial complex just behind the house, with multiple levels of underground parking; the construction is reportedly causing the house’s foundation to sink. Preservationists claim that the work has opened numerous serious cracks in the house’s load-bearing walls; some fear the structure will collapse.
Tonight’s gallery event aims to draw attention to these threats. It will include a film, an interactive performance, and a press conference about the ongoing effort to protect the Melnikov House from destruction.
If like most of us you’re not in Moscow, you can still help. First, learn about Melnikov, his house, and his larger body of work; peruse Melnikov’s models and sketches; listen to a reading of the late Bruce Chatwin’s account of a 1973 visit with Melnikov; immerse yourself in Russian Constructivism, and then — if you’re duly impressed — consider signing a petition urging the mayor of Moscow to take immediate action to preserve the Melnikov House. Or visit the Constructivist Project, which advocates for the protection of the Melnikov House and other Russian modernist buildings, and learn what else you can do.
“The eyes of the world are on Russia in this important case,” said Ana Tostoes, the head of Docomomo International, an architectural preservation group. Leading architects from around the world have rallied to the cause, urging the Russian government to protect the Melnikov House. As they point out, Melnikov was a visionary; his house is extraordinary, and many of his other works “have become paradigms of modern architecture as a whole.”