Grain trade and Lenin’s speeches: The unique Moderne Theatre building

May 31

Experts have confirmed the special value of the Moderne Theatre building in Moscow. Located on 9/1 Spartakovskaya Square, it has cultural-heritage landmark status.

This three-story building, shaped like the Russian letter Г, features projections, (decorative walls) and basements. A spherical rooftop dome and a two-story ceremony hall with two rows of windows, wooden doors at the main entrance with a carved décor are its distinctive characteristics. The hall’s walls are not divided by floors and ceilings. The building’s two sections overlook Spartakovskaya Square and Perevedensky Pereulok.

“Experts have approved the building’s protected architectural landmark status. Any work, including restoration work, can now be conducted in strict compliance with their findings. The building’s protected status includes the number of floors, the size and shape of the windows and doors, their location on the façade, pilasters, vertical protruding wall sections, decorative and inter-floor cornices and a belt of modillions (S-shaped architectural elements resembling brackets),” Head of the Moscow City Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov said.

He also added that the building’s internal and external plasterwork, including ornamental friezes, bas-reliefs, rosettes, festoons and halos, was also considered valuable. The structure’s load-bearing structures, floors and ceilings, interior layouts, premises and staircases, construction and facing materials are all under protection.

This modernist building was completed in 1911 and was designed by its architect, Kapitoly Dulin, to accommodate the Bread Exchange. The House of Communist Education was established there after the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and was later renamed the Baumansky House of Culture for Children. From 1918 to 1920, Vladimir Lenin addressed various rallies and meetings there. For many years, theatre and choreography, sewing, aircraft modelling, choir singing and drawing hobby groups came together at the Palace of Culture. The building now houses the Moderne Theatre.

Kapitoly (Kapiton) Dulin (4 March 1876-26 August 1933) was a Russian and Soviet architect and engineer. He designed buildings in the Moscow modernist style and was among the most outstanding architects preferring this style. Dulin mostly designed rental buildings as well as mansions. He also designed the Goznak pavilion for the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris.

Moscow prioritised the modernist architectural style, also called the Style of Individuals, in the early 20th century. Architects embodied the boldest and most eccentric requests of their clients and were able to fully express themselves. The appearance of buildings blended nicely with their interiors, and the Inside-Out principle. Merchants, entrepreneurs, patrons of the arts and artistic figures commissioned such buildings, for the most part.

The modernist era is renowned for asymmetrical façades and non-rectangular buildings that looked unusual because of their rounded corners and fluid décor shapes. They riveted the eye with their picturesque window frames and windowpane arrangements, plant and animal images, mosaic, ceramic tile and artistic metal elements on their façades. All Moscow modernist-style buildings looked completely dissimilar.


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