A lot of painstaking work has been invested in restoring dragon-shaped stucco-work and ceramic tiles, paintings and frescoes, staircases of natural stone and marble columns that now grace the interiors of Moscow architectural monuments. Restorers used archival descriptions, drawings and, with luck, photographs to reconstruct houses built several hundred years ago. Many remember the names of famous architects who designed these monuments, but restorers often remain unknown.
The Honoured Restorer of Moscow title was instituted in 2013 to highlight the great contribution restorers make to preserving and rebuilding Moscow’s architectural masterpieces. By tradition, the award pin conferral ceremony is held in March to mark the day when the Restoration and Reconstruction of Architectural Heritage specialty was introduced in Russia (5 March 1994).
Candidates for the award are chosen from restorers with at least 20 years of experience. So far, the title has been awarded to Nina Baryshkova, Nadezhda Danilenko, Yevgeny Kokorev, Viktor Korshunov, DmitryKulchinsky, Larisa Lazareva, Grigory Mudrov, Yelena Nikolayeva, Leonid Ostrovsky, Yelena Stepanova, Sergei Filatov and Oleg Yakhont. More than 615 cultural heritage facilities have been restored to their designs and under their supervision, while their combined length of service exceeds 515 years.
Three more names – Natalya Kartashova, Galina Kolcheva and Natalya Tankova -- were added to the list of honoured restorers on 9 March for their great contribution to preserving cultural heritage facilities and fruitful work in the area of edifice restoration.
From railway stations to museums and monasteries: The winners’ designs
The Zimin House and a nest of gentlefolk
Natalya Kartashova, a top-class restoration architect with 44 years of experience, worked on restoration designs for over 50 monuments of history and culture, including the facades of the Metropol Hotel, the plafond paintings in the National Hotel, and the Museum of Fine Arts on Volkhonka Street.
She was awarded the Moscow Restoration 2016 prize for her restoration design of the Zimin House, a mansion dated to the late 19th century. This rare surviving specimen of a rich Moscow house was rebuilt in all its glory with oak panels, plafonds, glazed tile stoves, panel-paintings, stucco-work and murals.
Currently, the architect is working on the restoration designs for the Metropol Hotel and the Ivan Turgenev Memorial House on Ostozhenka Street, which is to open in 2018 for the writer’s 200th birth anniversary. A multimedia room dedicated to the history of the Ostozhenka house will be located in the basement. It is also planned to restore the interiors of the ground-floor suite of rooms – the hall, the drawing-room, the bedroom and the cloakroom – which was occupied by Turgenev’s mother, Varvara Petrovna. The display will include Turgenev’s letters, books with his autograph, and portraits of contemporaries, house owners and guests.
The attic storey with Ivan Turgenev’s own rooms will be open to visitors for the first time. The plans include restoring a wooden staircase lost in the 20th century. The park will be planted with trees and flowers brought from places where the writer visited or lived: horse chestnuts from Baden-Baden, ash-trees from Bougival, and birches, linden-trees and fir-trees from Spasskoye-Lutovinovo.
Perlov’s Tea House
More than 30 monuments of history and culture owe their second birth to Galina Kolcheva. A restoration architect with 56 years of experience, she was awarded with the commemorative medal The 850th Anniversary of Moscow and the certificate For the Best Restoration and Construction of Buildings in the Historical Centre of Moscow for winning a competition announced by the Moscow Government. The Epiphany Cathedral, the observatory at the Sternberg State Astronomical Institute, the Khrushchevs-Seleznevs town mansion, the Boris and Gleb Church in Zyuzino, and the Vysoko-Petrovsky monastery were restored to her design and under her supervision.
She also breathed a new life into 19 Myasnitskaya Street, one of the most unusual houses in Moscow. Its ornaments include a pagoda, stucco dragons, snakes, Chinese umbrellas and lanterns, and the lettering on the façade is stylised as Chinese hieroglyphs. Built by merchant Sergei Perlov in the late 19th century, it was Moscow’s first specialised tea shop.
By the early 1990s, the house was in critical condition. Hardly any decorative elements survived. The architects restored façade ornaments and interior. The lost tiles, stucco-work, lattices, barriers and pagoda bells – symbols of Chinese food-shops – were recreated in accordance with the extant prototypes. In the salesroom, gilding and paintings on the ceiling and panels were restored, and glass cabinets surviving from the original opening, Chinese porcelain vases and lanterns were brought back.
Kievsky Railway Station
Natalya Tankova was made an honoured restorer too. Her designs were used to restore more than 60 town mansions, including Derozhinskaya’s art deco house, one of the best works by Fyodor Shekhtel, with a big stained-glass window designed by Viktor Borisov-Musatov.
Natalya Tankova’s team contributed to preserving a number of important buildings, including the Manezh, the Federal Treasury, the Kazansky Railway Station, and Zachatyevsky and Donskoi monasteries. Jointly with Galina Kolcheva, she worked on the restoration of the Kievsky Railway Station, with the former responsible for the design-and-engineering project and the latter for the technological aspect. Construction teams put in order sections of the wall and wall arches, granite steps and the base with grates, columns, pilasters, and metal and stone sculptures. The majolica relief of St George on the fronton was cleaned from dirt and vegetation and its lost elements were put in place again.
Natalya Tankova was a member of the team that won the Restorer-97 competition for best technology to restore the facades of a residential building in Leningradsky Prospekt, an architectural monument of the 1940s. In 1997, she was decorated with the commemorative medal The 850th Anniversary of Moscow; in 2012, she was awarded the certificate of the 20th International Zodchestvo Festival.
Training young restorers
Much experience and vast knowledge is needed to receive the title of an honoured restorer. There are higher schools and colleges that train restorers, who later demonstrate and hone their skills at contests and competitions, such as WorldSkills. For example, students from Moscow, St Petersburg and Oryol as well as young employees of Moscow restoration companies, participated in regional qualifying competitions held from 20 to 22 February.
The competition assignment was to restore a 19th-century chair. The contestants had to draw up specifications, remove elements of upholstery, eliminate defects, clear off the old lacquer coating, and polish and reassemble the item. Anna Mursenkova from the Moscow Architecture, Design and Reengineering College was named the winner. She was also put on the Moscow team in the Restorer of Wooden Artifacts category.
Contestants demonstrate their professional skills not only to their teachers but also to experts, some of them representing major companies. In this way, students get acquainted with their future employers. The latter come to WorldSkills competitions and demonstrations to take the measure of potential employees.
Moscow is one of the first Russian regions to join the WorldSkills Russia movement. Muscovites show excellent results: the Moscow team emerged in the lead of last year’s 4th National Championship, winning 127 points, as well as 15 gold, 14 silver, and 11 bronze medals. It also won six awards for professionalism.