White City gem: Restoration of Alexander Metochion

September 11

Preparations have got underway for the renovation of the historical Alexander Metochion building. This architectural landmark is also known as the chambers of the Dormition Convent in the Aleksandrovskaya village. The landmark was constructed in the historical district of Bely Gorod (White City) in the late 17th‒early 18th century. The convent used the chambers for its own purposes.

Today it is the Arbat District area (23 Starovagankovsky Pereulok, Bldg 1). The purpose, layout and even partly the look of the building has changed over time. The chambers are currently a cultural landmark of federal importance, and their layout, location, interior and exterior are protected by the state. Any works done on the building must be approved by the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage. The place hasn’t been renovated for over 40 years.

“It is a rectangular two-storey building with a cellar and a mezzanine. It has Gothic style red brick walls reinforced with iron. The technique was commonly used in residential buildings in Moscow 300 years ago. The facades are painted white. On the ground floor and in the cellar, there are two rooms with a large entrance hall between them. The building initially had a front porch which did not survive. The décor of the facades is rather simple although the hipped roof (with four slopes) and the V-shaped roofs over the mezzanine on the eastern side and the dormer window on the south side look rather out of place. The windows and arched entrances in the chambers that were initially parts of the facades, were partly covered up and only reopened in 1978 during the restoration works,” said Head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov.

The area has been cleared; the structure is being damp-proofed and the foundations are being reinforced by using heavy-duty resin and microcement. The facades will be stripped and repainted white again. Quite a lot of work is necessary to remove dents and other damaged spots on the walls and foundations. A new roof is required and the door and window frames have to be restored. The steps need repairing too as well as the marble floors in the cellar. The utility cables must be taken care of and replaced. The central heating system and the water pipes, plus sewage and ventilation system will all have to be replaced. The walls will get a waterproof coat of paint and fungi treatment.

According to Alexei Yemelyanov, the chambers are one of the few preserved public buildings in Moscow dating back to the second half of the 17th century with the interior design and laconic facades typical for this type of structures. The place had been a convent metochion until the early 19th century, and then was let out to private renters. Moscow historian Alexei Martynov resided there in the 1980s. Before the events of October 1917, the former chambers housed the metochion of the Frolishchi Holy Dormition Monastery. The chambers are currently being used as offices.

The restoration project will be overseen by Department of Cultural Heritage experts.

Preserving and restoring landmarks is an essential part of the department’s work. Many architectural landmarks have been restored for modern purposes while maintaining the historical feel of central Moscow. Since 2011, over 1,400 cultural heritage sites have been done up in Moscow.

Source: mos.ru

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