Marshal's House: how to restore a historical residential building on Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya Street

July 20

On Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya Street there is a seven-story dark gray building with high arches and turrets on the roof. This is the so-called marshal's house, built in 1947 for the Higher Command Personnel. Here, the descendants of military leaders who received apartments after the Great Patriotic War, as well as the architects who built the house, live. In 2019, the restoration of the ground floor was completed in the house, and this year the restoration of the entire building began.

Correspondent of visited the Marshal's house, saw how restorers work, and talked with those who return the building to its historical appearance.

Preparation for restoration

Now, the grandeur of the Marshal's house is difficult to assess - it is completely surrounded with scaffolding. If you look closely, you can see decorative elements, balconies, arches and massive numbers ‘1947’.

The house on Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya is the cultural heritage site. Therefore, the Overhaul Fund is engaged not only in its comprehensive overhaul, but also in restoration.

"The standard restoration procedures are always the same. It doesn't matter who the customer is - the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage, the Moscow Overhaul Fund or the owner. They are regulated by federal law and the relevant GOST standards. The difference in the case with the Marshal's house is that the Overhaul Fund performs work throughout the entire house, and work in the premises of the ground floor was previously carried out by their owner in the person of the Russian Ministry of Defense. It is worth noting that both these and other works are carried out under the supervision of the Department of Cultural Heritage of Moscow," Sergey Krasnov, Head of the Department for Cultural Heritage Sites work of the Construction Quality Control of the Overhaul Fund, explains.

Restoration begins with measurements, sampling of materials, laboratory tests. Architects also study archives, photographs, drawings, and descriptions of details. All this is necessary for drawing up a project, the scope of which can reach 30 volumes.

Sergey Krasnov. Photo by M. Denisov.

The finished documentation is undergoing a historical and cultural examination. Then it is placed in the public space, and everyone can make their comments. If they were not received (and there was no criticism of the Marshal's house), then the project is coordinated by the Department of Cultural Heritage. If there are comments, they are checked for correctness and changes are made. Then a contractor is selected through a tender, he receives a permit and begins working. The restoration is carried out under the supervision of the scientific supervisor who developed the project, among others.

Modern technologies play an important role in preparing for restoration.

"We use laser scanning of building elements, a copter flyby, which takes several thousand high-quality photos. Then a special computer program processes the images, then a digital model is built and design is carried out on the basis of it. BIM-design is also used," Sergey Krasnov says.

With the approval of the dwellers

An important feature of the restoration of residential buildings is the discussion with the dwellers. Sometimes they want, for example, to paint the facade or put double-glazed windows. But it is forbidden to do this at cultural heritage sites. According to Sergei Krasnov, there were no such problems with the Marshal's house.

A dweller of the house, Yevgeniya Vorontsova, notes that no decisions were made without the approval of the dwellers. In addition, people shared their preserved documents with specialists.

"We provided everything we had at the project development stage. The dwellers have practically no old photos of the building, because then they mostly took pictures of the Garden Ring itself, streets, trees. No one usually took photos of the house, they could have captured the entrance," she says.

Evgenia Vorontsova. Photo by M. Denisov.

Evgeniya Vorontsova has been living in the Marshal's house for 50 years. Her great-grandfather Konstantin Smirnov, an aviation Lieutenant General in the Russian Army, received an apartment here. Before moving, he and three members of his family huddled together in a 14-meter room in a communal apartment near the Kiev railway station. "We have such a legend in our family that when my great-grandfather got into a new apartment for the first time, he said: "My God, I can walk in my underwear!” But I remember him always dressed up - in ironed trousers, shirt, with a tie and with a walking stick," Yevgeniya tells.

Designed by three architects

The Marshal's House stands out not only for its architecture, but also for its history - it was built by captured Germans. It is noteworthy that before the war, another building stood on this site, destroyed during the Nazi bombing.

"There are not so many ‘German’ houses in the center. The Marshal's Building is a rare exception. There are houses built by captured Germans, for example, on Alabyan Street, in the area of Oktyabrskoye Polye. And captured Japanese also built houses in Krasnogorsk, " the guide Georgy Makeev says.

The house on Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya was designed by three architects - Lev Rudnev, Vladimir Munts and Viktor Ass. They often worked together. So, all three are the authors of one of the buildings of the Ministry of Defense on the Frunzenskaya Embankment.

Georgy Makeev. Photo by M. Denisov.

Georgy Makeev emphasizes that houses intended for some professional group were not uncommon. "For the Soviet era, houses with a peer group are generally characteristic - the house of NKVD employees, the house of writers, and there is a three-story mansion on the Patriarch's Ponds but in fact, a six-apartment house for generals."

Preserve historical elements as much as possible

The electrics have already been completely replaced in the Marshal's house, other engineering communications are now being put in order, the facade, interiors and roof are also being restored.

Restorer Vladimir Brizhinsky restores doors, portals, railings, elevator openings, windows - everything that is inside the building. He shows the doors of the entrance space of one of the entrances.

"Each entrance has an entrance space in the form of a portal. All the doors are now under restoration - after the repairs of the 1990s, many details have been lost. For example, the brass grilles on these doors are irretrievably lost and they will have to be cast again. This is a very voluminous work, but I think that by August the portal will get a historical appearance. We do our best to preserve everything that is possible," the restorer emphasizes.

However, not everything can be preserved. One of the reasons is time. So, it will not be possible to leave the original window frames. According to the restorer, they are almost 80 percent destroyed. And with the wooden railing, which is now carefully wrapped in a film, everything is fine, only small connecting elements are missing. Vladimir estimate the railing preservation as solid B.

Vladimir Brizhinsky. Photo by M. Denisov.

The pride of each entrance of the Marshal's house is mosaics on the floor. They have reached us in good condition and are waiting for their turn for restoration.

"There are unique mosaics on the floor in the entrances. Each entrance has its own drawing - somewhere a floral, somewhere a small dragon. Now they are closed so that construction dust does not fall, but they will also be restored, there are only few lost elements in these mosaics," the restorer assures.

This is a painstaking job

One of the most difficult stages of restoration is the restoration of the turrets (pinnacles) on the roof of the house. They have been badly worn out, destroyed and are in an emergency state. The sculptor-restorer Arman Simonyan is engaged in their restoration. His summer workshop is located right in the courtyard of the house on Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya. Under the green canopy there is a table with a yellow colorful lamp and tools. Around, there are models and ready-made samples.

Arman Simonyan. Photo by M. Denisov.

"I am engaged in the manufacture of lost elements. First, a plaster model is made, then a form, and after that there is a casting in concrete. Right now I am restoring the arched element, some parts are lost here," the sculptor says.

Arman Simonyan emphasizes that the Marshal's house is unique for its concrete masonry, which resembles ceramic. It is reinforced with wire, and inside it is hollow, like tiles. This is quite rare.

The job of the sculptor is painstaking, it is associated with small details, therefore it requires a lot of time and attention.

Restoration and overhaul of the house on Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya are promised to be completed by the end of the year. Overhaul Fund, carrying out such work, tries to keep within one warm season, in order not to create unnecessary inconveniences for dwellers.


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