Creating a digital duplicate of the building: how to restore the Moscow’s historical housing stock

April 3

House 21 in Bolshoy Drovyanoy Lane is a typical example of the XIX century’s Moscow Art Nouveau to which the famous architect Peter Drittenpreis gave his hand. The three-story building has a classic design for its style but its fate is rather bright.

Unlike many restored houses of that period this one is not a tenement but a manor house. It was built not for rent, but for one of the old merchant families of Moscow to live in. Initially, the building belonged to the tradeswoman Olga Kiryakova, and then was passed over to the tradesman Pavel Krasheninnikov — it was he who ordered to add the third floor to the house and rebuild its facade.

Today the mansion has the status of the identified cultural heritage site. Learn how the capital repair and restoration of the building, while people stay in, is being carried out, in the article.

The return of pre-revolutionary interiors

The building in Bolshoy Drovyanoy Lane was nationalized after the revolution and according to eyewitnesses was turned to be...a maternity hospital. At some time it was separated into communal flats, and since then the former mansion became a residential house.

The building is included in the capital repairs program. Most of the work has already been completed and the final stage — the end of the restoration — is approaching, said Sergey Krasnov, Head of the Department for Cultural Heritage Sites of the Construction Quality Control of the Capital Repair Fund.


Inside the merchant's manor house, on the contrary, work is in full swing — specialists are saving the pre-revolutionary interior. The original window frames, stairs, and railings survived to nowadays. The stucco molding that decorates the entrance walls was cleaned of long-term layers of paint. It was a real stroke of luck that the ornate wooden transom above the front door was still in good condition. By the way, this door will also be made according to the original patterns.

A separate pride of the residents is the common-house wooden cabinet-refrigerator under the window sill that was preserved since pre-revolutionary times. However, new LED and energy-efficient lamps are already shining over the artifact of the century before last in the repaired entrance — all according to the best standards of capital repair.

As Sergey Krasnov stressed, most of the work is carried out at the expense of the Moscow budget and not at the owners’ expense — they pay the same fee for capital repairs as residents of other apartment buildings.

Sacrament of renovation

Specialists take special care of the smallest element of the interior. The main task is to restore everything to the maximum. So, in place of the rich stucco, until recently one could see only shapeless mass of paint. Workers, like real surgeons, are engaged in prosthetics — of railings, not joints. If a piece is knocked out somewhere, a new one made of the same material is pasted in.

The dolomite steps of antique staircase are well preserved only in the main entrance, and in the next one they will be restored using special dolomite composition. Almost the same fate awaits the missing balusters — they will be cast from cast iron according to the original patterns.

A complete list of works is unlikely to be one-page long: it begins with the putty of the walls and ends with the installation of floor slabs. Head of capital repairs section Maxim Yemelyanov notes that only 30 percent of the total work is carried out in the house itself — the remaining 70 are performed in workshops, where they prepare forms and patterns. For example, to recreate the original doors in the entrances.


Of course, you can only entrust such time-consuming work to professionals. The contractor receives a permit from the Department of Cultural Heritage Sites. The document allows you to carry out works in the building and confirms that specialists have the required qualifications.

On average, about 15-16 people work on the site, and 10 of them are restorers. Since the main focus is on restoration work, the house in Bolshoy Drovyanoy Lane is restored by specialists with extensive experience.

"Some of our guys have up to 15 years of experience in restoration. They were engaged in the restoration of monuments in the Yaroslavl, Rostov, Moscow regions and, of course, Moscow. Not every specialist can do restoration: this requires experience and understanding of working with certain materials. Stucco molding is rather a complex type of work, to say nothing of balusters, doors, restoration of carpentry materials — this is a very scrupulous process, " Maxim Yemelyanov pointed out.

According to head of the section, one of the main difficulties when restoring the house was the replacement of utilities. The fact is that often old houses are uneven due to their advanced age. As a result, water supply pipes are not vertical but aslant therefore workers have to make additional holes in the floors.

Despite the scope of renovation and restoration the contractors managed to find contact with the residents of the house. According to head of the section, they see the result and are ready to wait — to continue living in beauty and comfort. The work in the entrances is planned to be completed in April, and the restoration of the facades will be finished by July.

Digital Twin

Future technologies help specialists restore the architecture of the past. To restore even the most complex objects as accurately as possible, 3D laser scanning methods are used. This type of examining reveals all architectural losses. On the basis of the preserved decorative elements, a virtual drawing is made that helps recreate them at any time: print a pattern on a 3D printer, make a shape and cast an item in plaster. Thus, the preservation of the historical facade is also guaranteed because all work is carried out remotely.

"Special equipment — 3D laser scanner on a tripod — reads in points from the facade and then builds a three-dimensional model, a detailed drawing, that is to say, a digital twin of the building. The design is carried out on the basis of this model. The project for this house is made using the digital method as well. Thanks to BIM technologies we get accurate drawings, dimensions, parameters, defects list and estimated cost. Additionally, the software package allows it to identify conflicts during design. For example, when utility networks intersect each other or communication lines pass through the decorative elements. Ordinary drawings do not reveal it at once but the digital image indicates problem points automatically. If the designer suddenly makes a mistake, the architect will correct it", adds Sergey Krasnov.

The advantage of a virtual drawing over a physical one is that it will not be lost or torn. All files are stored in a special database, so specialists will be able to study them in decades to come.


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