New East Digital Archive

Melnikov House competition winners say leave building alone

17 July 2013

How would you turn Moscow’s iconic Melnikov House into a museum? Buy more slippers, say the winners of a competition to transform the cylindrical-shaped building into a museum. The young architectural practice, CitizenStudio and Nina Fedorova, won over the jury with their suggestion to leave the building alone.

Instead, they propose saving the building from decay by using professional engineers and restorers. “We, as architects, see only one way to participate in the life of this building: there aren’t enough slippers,” they said lightheartedly in an interview with RIA Novosti. To accompany their proposal, the team has designed a special slipper in the shape of the building. Wearing slippers provided at the entrance is common practice when visiting some Russian museums and galleries. The winning concept stands in contrast to other proposals, one of which involved encasing the building in glass and concrete. Another suggested creating an exhibition space beneath the house.

Melnikov House, an avant-garde symbol of early Soviet architecture, was designed by architect Konstantin Melnikov and completed in 1929. The double cylindrical structure with 60 hexagonal windows is said to be under threat from nearby construction sites, which have led to large cracks throughout the building. The competition was organised by Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, which in May launched an online petition calling on Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin to immediately halt all construction in the surrounding area.