One more Nirnzee masterpiece: Klimov’s rental building under state protection

December 20, 2020

The building of the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (RATI GITIS) on Zemlyanoi Val Street has become a listed cultural heritage site. Building 66/20 was constructed between 1910 and 1913. It once housed flats that were rented out. Now a number of faculties of the famous theatre academy are located at this address.

“The rental building on Zemlyanoi Val was built between 1910 and 1913 in a late Art Nouveau style. The design was drawn up by famous architect Ernst-Richard Nirnzee, and the memorial value is associated with aircraft engine designer, Vladimir Klimov. The building was commissioned by his father. Now it has become a listed landmark and is under state protection,” said Alexei Yemelyanov, Head of the Department of Cultural Heritage.

A building with this status cannot be taken down, and the owners and tenants are not allowed to carry out any work without the local government’s approval.

The ground floor seems monumental. It acts as a stylobate, which appears to be holding up the upper floors, that seem rather "light" and "airy."

The façade design is represented by simple crowning and interfloor cornices, platbands, decorative latches, profiled window frames and aprons. The major feature  is the bay window on the corner of Teterinsky Pereulok. The main entrances are emphasised by portals with pilasters and curved awnings.

The walls of the house are plastered and painted. The ground and top floors are finished with rustication (plaster imitating masonry).

Inside the building, floor tiles, as well as wrought iron banisters, pilasters, cornices and ceiling moldings have survived to this very day.

Architect Ernst Nirnzee chose a typical layout for rental buildings at the onset of the last century, which were affordable for the middle-class. The flats consisted of four to six rooms and were equipped with running water and electricity. Each of them had its own exit to the back stairs from the kitchen. The spiral stairs were unlit and faced the courtyard of the building, while the front ones were lit with lanterns and led to Zemlyanoi Val Street. It was assumed that such housing could be rented by people with a stable income, who had servants. They earned enough to ensure a comfortable life for themselves, but were so far not in a position to build their own house or rent a mansion.

After the nationalisation in 1917, the building was turned into communal flats.

By the end of the 20th century, people living in communal flats were offered new housing, and the building then housed the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (RATI GITIS). In particular, the faculties of scenography and musical theatre.

The memorial value of the building is associated with famous aircraft engine designer, Vladimir Klimov (1892-1962), the son of Yakov Klimov, who was the one that commissioned the building to be constructed. Vladimir Klimov lived with his parents in one of the flats when he was a child.

Ernst-Richard Nirnzee (1873-1934) was a Russian architect and tenant who designed a number of rental buildings including the first "skyscrapers" in Moscow, stepping over the mark of eight floors.

Nirnzee’s houses were built in the central part of Moscow: in the districts of Tverskaya and Tverskiye-Yamskiye streets and on Zemlyanoi Val Street; almost all the buildings are rented out. The most famous of his creations is his own house on Bolshoi Gnezdnikovsky Pereulok (Nirnzee’s House).


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