Kievskaya station, Berg’s House and Levenson’s print shop: winners of the Moscow Restoration competition

Kievskaya station, Berg’s House and Levenson’s print shop: winners of the Moscow Restoration competition
More than 700 cultural heritage sites have been restored in Moscow over the last six years, including mansions, cathedrals, train and metro stations, archaeological sites, haut-reliefs and even burial sites. The Moscow Restoration competition celebrates the best renovation projects and their implementation. reports on this year’s winners.

The year 2016 saw the completion of restoration work at the A. Siu & Co Confectionary, the Ordzhonikidze Community Building, the Kazansky railwaytrain station, the cathedral of the Donskoi Monastery and other landmark sites. In its efforts to preserve Moscow’s cultural heritage, the capital ranked first among Russian regions in terms of effectiveness in safeguarding the cultural heritage in 2015.


Historical buildings start a new life after their renovation. Many of them become part of the City Outing project and are ready to welcome those eager to see the capital’s cultural heritage with their own eyes. For example, the Levenson print shop will offer tours.

The most outstanding nominees in this year’s competition include the smaller cathedral of the Donskoi Monastery, the Zimin mansion, an 18th century manor in Pervomayskoye, the Kievsky and Kazansky railway stations, the Kievskaya metro station of the Filyovskaya and Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya lines, the Plekhanov Institute building, the Community Building and Vuchetich’s haut-relief at VDNKh.

Moscow Restoration 2016 competition winners

Glass light fixtures with a diamond pattern on the Kievskaya metro station

Location: Kievskaya metro station of the Filyovskaya Line

The architecture of the Kievskaya metro station on the blue line is quite simple. A slab rests on two rows of 23 columns with stairs on both ends of the stations. While the overall structure may not be overly complex, the station is very richly decorated.

The marble floor is one of the main design features of the station. In the centre of the platform it recalls a carpet made of coloured fragments. Unconventional materials were used in decorating the station, such as porcelain for column caps and onyx in column cladding. However, at a certain stage the marble mosaic and onyx were replaced by granite, while faience replaced porcelain.

The walls of the platform were restored, as well as the basement, mouldings, column cladding, ceramic column heads and ceramic tiles bearing the name of the station. Although the faience column heads were in a very poor state, they received a facelift and were preserved. The central part of the platform floor was restored as per the 1930s designs, with granite colours selected to match the colour of the stone on the columns and wall tiles. The light fixtures posed the greatest challenge, since they were made from two-layered glass with a diamond pattern. This technology was widely used in the 1930s, but was since almost lost.

The station did not close during renovation, with work carried out only at night. Some restoration work was carried out in restoration shops.


Windows dating back to the 16th century in Donskoi Monastery

Location: 1 Donskaya Square, building 19

The Donskoi Icon of the Mother of God Cathedral was built in the 16th century and is the oldest cathedral in the Donskoi Monastery. This year it celebrates two major events: 425 years since its founding and the end of restoration. The cathedral’s current composition dates back to the 17th century, when a refectory and a bell tower were added to the original structure. The cathedral was reconditioned on multiple occasions, with every epoch leaving its own trace and concealing the building first designed under Boris Godunov.

Restoration was launched in 2013. Removing the plaster made it easier to tell the difference between the original details and later additions. On the refectory’s attic, windows made in the 16th century were discovered with brick casing. Specialists decided to hide the passageways made in 18th and 19th century and restore the original design.

In addition, portals in side altars and the refectory were restored, as well as the metal cross, and the tiles on the bell tower. The forged cathedral dome structure also benefited from repairs, and structures on the roof were restored to their original appearance. The cathedral domes were covered with copper and gold plating.


Majolica garlands of the Belarus Republic pavilion

Place: 119 Prospekt Mira

The appearance of the Belarus Republic pavilion was created after the war. The original building, dating back to 1937, was made of wood and resembled a peasant village house. At the time, it was named the pavilion of the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Zapadnaya, Kalinin, Ivanovo and Yaroslavl Regions.

By 1954, the building had been re-built in stone. In 2002, it was handed over to Belarus for a long-term lease, and in 2007 the building restoration began. Since then, the pavilion recovered its original appearance, its historical interiors were reconstructed, the architectural molding decorations were revived, the balcony was painted with frescos and electric lights were installed.

The Rodina (Motherland) sculpture, which crowns the cut tiered tower on the pavilion’s roof, had lost nearly half of its decorative mosaic and was in desperate need of restoration. Experts cleaned the statue and restored the smalt covering layer. The figure of a girl wearing a long dress and holding a stack of wheat and a wreath in her hand is glowing again in various shades of gold.

The decorative weaving of vegetables and fruit around the columns encircling the semi-circle courtyard has also been restored. The front row of the columns has been decorated with colourful majolica in the national Belarusian ornamental style. The Workers of Belarus sculpture composition has been reinstalled on the roof. It includes 2-metre tall figures of the Milkmaid, Agriculturist, Farmer Lady, Hunter and Machine Operator. The restoration artists recreated five copies of the historical figures based on moulds (casts).


Oak windows and parquet floors in Berg’s House

Location: 5 Denezhny Pereulok, Bld. 5

The house at 5 Denezhny Pereulok, Bld. 1 has an interesting history. The mansion burned down, and was rebuilt and changed owners several times. In 1918, it housed the German diplomatic mission, where German Ambassador, Count Wilhelm von Mirbach, was assassinated in the same year. Later, the house became the headquarters of the Communist International until the Italian Embassy settled here in 1924, where it remains to the present day.

The house was one of the first Moscow houses to have electricity and a doorbell. The first ball lit with electric bulbs was held here. Ladies whose makeup was meant for gas lighting were in for an unpleasant surprise.

The current building was built when the land was purchased by engineer and gold miner Sergei Berg. To begin with, he built new one-storey stone houses with modest facades resembling countryside houses, and put four wooden gazebos in the garden. Two of them were designed in the Russian style, and the other two in the oriental style, with elegant twining lines topped with domes, portal frames and sheds. The engineer later decided to rebuild the mansion. The wooden house was pulled down to be replaced with a large stone mansion.

The lavish interiors featured luxurious ceilings, wooden panels, carved portal frames in gothic shapes and arches. Over 60 window frames were repaired, and those that could not be restored were replaced with new stained oak frames. The historical parquet was restored, filled with oak shavings, polished and covered with wax oil.


Coins and trade seals on Sofiiskaya Embankment

Location: Sofiiskaya Embankment, Blds. 4, 6, 8, 10;  Bolotnaya Square, Bld. 14

A cross made out of a silver coin, a key, a belt buckle and part of an iron knife, lead bullets, a silver hand-minted coin, buttons and a copper alloy ring, a fragment of a relief ceramic tile – this is only part of the treasure archaeologists found on Sofiiskaya Embankment. The discoveries were made after the site of Gustav Liszt’s large 19th century factory was gradually stripped of soil layers: from the 18th–19th century, the second half of the 16-17th centuries, the first half of the 16th and the end of the 14th–15th centuries. Some finds date back even earlier.

In all, the excavations uncovered nearly 350 items made of various materials and over 5,000 ceramic fragments. A range of early (14th–15th centuries) coins and lead trade seals of the same period are particularly interesting to experts, as it means that trade was quite lively here. As for numismatic discoveries, the rarest and most unusual were Russian medieval coins, with the earliest of them minted under Dmitry Donskoi’s son Vasily the First. There were also coins minted under the Golden Horde, and the silver Golden Horde dirhem, which was used for making the Orthodox cross.


Artistic tombstones at the Morozov family burial site

Location: Rogozhskoye Cemetery, 31A Section 1, Staroobryadcheskaya Street

Many representatives of Moscow merchant circles were buried at the Rogozhskoye Cemetery, which was long a centre for the Old Believer community. In the second half of the 19th–early 20th centuries, the cemetery became the burial ground for prominent Russian industrialists, factory owners and merchants such as the Shelaputin, Rakhmanov, Soldatenkov, Pugovkin, Kuznetsov, Rabushinsky, Morozov, Kapyrin, Ryazanov and Tryndin families. Few of the graves can now be identified, as granite tombstones were used for construction in the 1930s. But one of the Morozov burial sites has been preserved.

The family burial complex, which has remained to this day, was established in the second half of the 19th–early 20th centuries. It included gravestones at the graves of the first, second and third generations of the Morozov family, who died before 1917, and also their offspring, who died in Soviet times.

The memorial cross at the section was put up most likely in 1861, soon after the death of Savva Morozov, the founder of the dynasty. In 1889, a private crypt-chapel began to be built here for Timofei Morozov, which became the dominating feature of the necropolis composition, and the cross was moved here. This tombstone in the shape of a chapel pillar, designed by Fyodor Shekhtel, stands out in the Morozovs’ section for its shape, scale and sophisticated plasticity. The Byzantine-style structure is crowned with a lacy iron tented roof covered in duo-pitched sharp-bent roof tiles.

Restoration experts cleared and washed the tombstones, cleaned and repaired the seams, filled cracks with paste, and recreated the lost elements. The fence and the ciborium were cleaned and painted, and the net on the copper tiles thickened. The inscription on the tombstones was toned and gold-plated, and the tombstone itself was polished and covered with wax.


Jellyfish lamp at Levensons printing office

Location: 9 Tryokhprudny Pereulok, Bld.1

The city has renovated Levenson’s printing shop, one of the most successful publishers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, restoring its original appearance and lavish interior. Designed by Fyodor Shekhtel, the universally recognised master of the Moscow Modernist Style, this building resembles a medieval castle.

Experts have rebuilt the mansion’s stained-glass dome on top of its façade and the main staircase’s marble banisters, and they have installed a jellyfish-shaped lamp on the upper twisted column. The reception hall’s sconces and ceiling lamps look exactly like their equivalents in old photos. Walls and ceilings have been repainted in every room, and stucco moulding has also been restored.

The building’s doors and windows have been reproduced using Shekhtel’s blueprints. Its parquet floors feature historical ornaments and coloured Mettlach tiles. A bas-relief showing printing equipment operators has been opened on the mansion’s façade, and a hall on its main floor features another bas-relief with a portrait of Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the printing press. A corner-room on the second floor, used as an office by Levenson, features the wooden railing of a secret staircase leading towards the main floor. Its metal steps are now covered with wooden planks. An original chandelier has also been restored here using a photo.


Moscow Restoration competition participants

The Moscow Restoration competition ranks among the most prestigious professional competitions among design and restoration agencies. Since 2011, this competition has involved over 300 companies, chief architects and restorers, participants and project managers. This year’s competition involves 73 participants.

Thirty-three landmarks are included in several categories: Civil Engineering Projects, City Estates, Industrial Architecture Projects, Church Architecture, Monumental Art Projects and Archeological Heritage Projects.

Members of the competition’s board consisting of honourary restorers, engineers, architects and artists have selected 40 award recipients (including one special prize), as well as five special awards. This year’s jury includes Merited Artist of Russia Andrei Batalov, Chair of the Central Council of the National Russian Society for Protection of Historical and Cultural Landmarks Galina Malanicheva, experts and the city’s honourary restorers.

Members of the jury select winners in the following four categories:

  • Best restoration projects and/or best projects to adapt facilities to modern use;
  • High-quality renovation/restoration projects;
  • Best organisation and management of renovation/restoration projects;
  • Best research and development project and/or academic-methodological oversight.

Since 2015, the winners have received special awards in the Best Restoration Project category following voting on the Active Citizen website. This time, Active Citizen website users were able to choose from among three projects, including the Zimin and Dyomin family estates and the main building of an 18th century estate in the township of Pervomaiskoye.

The winners receive certificates signed by the Mayor of Moscow and honourary awards.