Culture

Vladimir Putin and Sergei Sobyanin opened the GES-2 House of Culture on Bolotnaya Embankment

Vladimir Putin and Sergei Sobyanin opened the GES-2 House of Culture on Bolotnaya Embankment
Press Service of the Presidential Executive Office of the Russian Federation
GES-2 will become one of the main points of attraction for Muscovites and guests of the city.

The GES-2 House of Culture was opened on Bolotnaya Embankment. The ceremony was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and project investor Leonid Mikhelson.

"A large number of pipelines and utilities were moved, the embankment was expanded, the descent to the water was arranged, the Patriarshy Bridge was reconstructed, several objects were handed over to the project ownership for further reconstruction and demolition. In general, the fresh ground was broken and this year the island improvement was carried out," Sergei Sobyanin noted. “90 percent of the embankments were landscaped. This was a huge systematic work. Now it's not just one object, it's located in a large cultural space."

Leonid Mikhelson noted that in search of a suitable site for creating a new cultural space, he studied many places in Moscow, and when he saw the building of the former Hydraulic Power Plant (GES-2), there was no doubt it was exactly what was needed.

The GES-2 restoration has become the largest project regarding transformation of the former industrial building into an open cultural space that has been implemented in the world in recent years. The GES-2 House of Culture will become the most important cultural center on the map of Moscow.

The building history

The central electric generating station of the city tram (later — GES-2 Mosenergo) was built in 1904-1908 by architect Vasily Bashkirov and engineer Mikhail Polivanov at the Maly Kamenny Bridge on the Vodootvodny Canal bank.

In his work, the architect often turned to the motives of the neo-Russian style, elements of which he used in the processing of the facades of the power plant. A unique feature of the building was the zenith skylight of the boiler room. In its original form, the power plant complex was preserved until the late 1920s. Then its appearance was partially changed: new buildings, technological premises were added, the decorative design of the facades and the turret in the office part were partially lost.

The decision to remove GES-2 from operation was made in 2006. The reason was the equipment wear and tear and the high cost of energy produced. In addition, the station closure has improved the environmental situation in the center of Moscow.

 

The electrical load of the closed station was redistributed to the Bersenevskaya substation built nearby, and the thermal load was transferred to the TETs-20 thermal power plant.

From the Power Plant to the House of Culture

In 2009, the GES-2 building was awarded the status of a cultural heritage site of regional significance.

In 2014, Mosenergo PJSC sold the GES-2 asset complex to the investor GES-2 LLC (owner - L.V. Mikhelson) for creating a House of Culture here. His customer was the Foundation for the Development of Contemporary Art V-A-C founded by Leonid Mikhelson. Besides the GES-2 historic building restoration, the project also included the creation of a high-quality urban environment: the reconstruction of the pedestrian Patriarshy Bridge, the improvement of the Bolotnaya Embankment part and the arrangement of the descend to the river.

The architectural concept of the GES-2 House of Culture was developed by the international architectural bureau Renzo Piano Building Workshop under the guidance of the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano, the author of the Georges Pompidou Center building in Paris, as well as other important cultural structures in different countries.

The restoration of GES-2 has become an excellent example of international cultural cooperation. In addition to the project authors, the work was controlled by the Russian company Apex — the facility general designer.

The complex total area is more than 35 thousand square meters. The GES-2 building became the complex central element with an area of about 16 thousand square meters. Experts have restored the original appearance of the former power plant. They cleared out of late layers and extensions, recreated the most expressive element of the building — the clock tower. Now, as 100 years ago, the zenith skylight of the boiler room fills the building with natural light. In addition, for better lighting, the entire roof over the main building was made of translucent material with built-in solar panels, which will provide up to 10 percent of the energy needed to operate the House of Culture.

The pipes of GES-2 with a height of 70 meters are used for air intake and purification. The building also has a system for collecting and cleaning rainwater. The collected water can be used in technical rooms and for plants irrigation.

The GES-2 House of Culture sets up a claim to receive the LEED gold certificate (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and is included in the rating system of environmentally friendly and sustainable buildings.

There are no floors in the building in the classic sense. On four levels of open space connected by stairways, there are exhibition halls, classes of educational programs, a library, a playground, a bookstore, a cafe and a restaurant.

Art residences and an assembly hall for theatrical productions, concerts, performances, film screenings and other events have become part of the building.

There is an ability to accept up to 60 classes per month. Both one-and-a-half-hour classes and full-day programs prepared jointly with teachers at the individual request of each class are provided for. This will allow schoolchildren to get deeper knowledges.

"We have a lot of experience working with such projects We simply direct classes or recommend teachers to come with students to such cultural spaces, museums, technoparks and so on. We allocate special transport: buses, escort cars. We deliver children to such events for free," Moscow Mayor said.

The House of Culture acoustics was done by a group of international specialists, some of whom created the sound system of the Paris Philharmonic.

An underground storage area of 2.8 thousand square meters is provided for the fund collections.

Part of the former power plant, a detached building called Svody, is allotted for the art production center. This two storey (one — at ground level, the other — underground) building with an area of about two thousand square meters with vaulted ceilings formerly housed a workshop of the Smirnov vodka factory.

The Svody Art Production Center supports the creative ecosystem of the Russian capital, providing the creative industry representatives access to modern equipment for the projects implementation. There are 13 workshops where it will be possible to experiment with materials — wood, metal, plastic, ceramics and textiles, create projects in photo, audio and video studios, 3D printing laboratories, silkscreen studios, finishing workshops, use a library of materials and actively interact with other participants in the coworking space. The workshops are equipped with the up-to-date equipment. Svody will become a unique platform for a wide range of creative specialists — a new creative cluster in Moscow.

A birch grove has been planted on the roof of the underground parking lot — 620 trees and more than 80 thousand shrubs, which harmoniously fits into the surrounding space.

The main focus in the work of the GES-2 House of Culture is put on the development and awakening of interest in modern culture.

The new cultural space is designed to be visited by up to 750 thousand people a year. It will provide about 800 new jobs.

The House of Culture will accept first visitors on December 4. It will be possible to enter the building by pre-registration after presenting a QR code and observing the face-mask requirements.

Pedestrian bridge and descend to the water

The new pedestrian zone, which runs from the Cathedral of Christ the Savior to the Yakimanskaya Embankment, has become an seamless continuation of the GES-2 House of Culture.

To create it, the Moscow Government carried out the reconstruction of the pedestrian Patriarshy Bridge on the section between Bersenevskaya and Yakimanskaya embankments with the cantilevered stands (amphitheaters), staircases and elevators for mobility impaired people installation.

A comfortable area for rest and meetings has been created under the bridge.

On the Bolotnaya Embankment adjacent to the Patriarshy Bridge section, landscaping works have been carried out and a descend to the water for recreation and walks has been made.

The public space around the GES-2 House of Culture will become one of the main points of attraction on the pedestrian route along the embankments of the Moskva River.

Opening program

The GES-2 House of Culture opens with an art season, which includes three exhibition projects:

— "To Moscow! To Moscow! To Moscow!" is a curatorial project of the invited Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson;

—  continued performance "’Santa Barbara’. The living sculpture of Ragnar Kjartansson";

— exhibition "I take the gondola motors apart: carnival in four acts".

A rich publishing and educational program is also provided for.

On the Prospekt (the central part of the building), the production team recreated the film pavilions, in which 98 episodes of the popular American TV series "Santa Barbara", first shown in Russia in 1992 and were on parade for 10 years, will be remade in Russian.

The exhibition "I take the gondola motors apart: carnival in four acts", the name of which was given by a line from the song "Carnival.net” of the Mumiy Troll group, consists of new works by Russian artists addressing carnival culture today, as well as individual works of 30 years ago — images, costumes and staged photographs.

Curators of the exhibition "To Moscow! To Moscow! To Moscow!" builds a dialogue between the works of Ragnar Kjartansson and the works of other authors on topics that are key in his creative work. This is the music and dramaturgy force of impact, the role of repetition and the potential of art's influence on the world. The title of the exhibition refers to the famous phrase from the Three Sisters play by Anton Chekhov, an author with whose works Kjartansson has been familiar since early childhood.

Next to the Prospekt there will be an Atelie — a playground and workshops for children of any age. Here you can engage in creativity independently or with employees and invited artists, develop fine motor skills and gain new knowledge.

In addition, educational events are also planned — meetings with artists and experts dedicated to understanding and developing a critical perception of modern culture.