The working group of the Moscow Restoration contest has chosen its contestants. A record number of 100 applications were submitted to compete for the award of the best cultural heritage site restoration project this year. The judges will assess the results of the projects that restored 45 Moscow cultural heritage sites. The contestants will also compete for a special award which will be presented by honoured Moscow restorers.
Moscow Restoration is a Moscow government contest intended for the best project in preservation and popularisation of cultural heritage sites. The judges will assess the results of the restoration projects carried out between 2016-2017. The winners of the 2017 contest will be announced on 7 December.
The list of renovated cultural heritage sites includes: Baron Von Rekk estate mansion on Pyatnitskaya Street, monuments to Alexander Pushkin and Maxim Gorky, flower beds and the arch of the VDNKh northern entrance, Kievsky railway station ticket hall, Rozhdestvensky Monastery, Ostafyevo estate plus many other landmarks too.
The contestants will compete in the following nominations:
— Best Restoration and /or Adaptation Project;
— Highest Quality of Restoration Work;
— Best Organisation of Restoration Work;
— Best Research Work and/or Scientific and Methodological Guidance.
The organisers have introduced a special award for restoring the historical and architectural ensemble of stations of the Moscow Belt Railway (now Moscow Central Circle).
They have also introduced another award that will be presented to young specialists by honoured Moscow restorers.
Writers immortalised in bronze
The restoration work of the Alexander Pushkin monument on Pushkinskaya Square began in summer 2016. First workers renovated the links of the chain around the monument. In April 2017, workers began reinforcing the steps and the base of the monument: they renovated the reinforced concrete, replaced the blocks of the steps and cleaned the surface of the monument. The workers also sealed cracks with sealer. The project designers decided to do away with all the flower beds around the base of the monument, since the original monument did not have them and they came about only during Soviet times.
Then the experts started renovating the bronze statue of the poet. They removed the grime and removed the mastic sealants covering any defects and flaws in the metal that have been made lately.
During the final stages of the restoration work experts applied local chemical patination (which artificially makes the metal look older). The surface was covered with a special solution to even out the colour, eliminate the blotches and blend the colours. The decision not to remove the patina (greenish-brown layer formed on the surface of objects made from copper and bronze as a result of oxidation) was taken at a joint scientific and methodological council’s meeting of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage. Experts decided to retain the layer, preserving the greenish colour of the monument. Before City Day workers dismantled the scaffolding which had been surrounding the monument. It is said that the Alexander Pushkin monument will not require any further restoration work for at least 50 years.
At the end of July Maxim Gorky returned back to his original place on Tverskaya Zastava Square. The restoration work on this monument had to be carried out in several stages. First the experts removed traces of corrosion, grease and coating, and eliminated surface defects. Then they reinforced the frame and mount of the statue’s foundations and concluded by touching up decorative parts. The granite blocks of the stylobate and the foundation of the monument were being restored simultaneously.
The list of projects also includes the restoration project of the Kievsky railway station’s ticket hall. Experts restored both the facades and the interior of the railway station. It is worth mentioning that the station did not close for restoration, while the station’s daily passenger flow is estimated at over 100,000 people.
Fifteen percent of wall sections and various decorations of the front of the building were estimated to be missing. However, experts managed to preserve most of the Italian marble used for its decoration. All the lost pieces were replaced with marble brought in from Italy, which looks similar to that originally used.
The workers also renovated the masonry on the front of the building, as well as its upper part, the cornices, pinnacles (small decorative turrets), the spire, steps, balustrade and other parts too.
Inside the building workers restored the doors, chandeliers, lamps, paintings together with the mouldings. Some of the elements had to be recreated, such as decorative door bars, windows and decorative panels in the entrance halls.
The restoration work of Kievsky railway station went in stages. It has been ongoing for several years. For example, workers have already restored the Red and Pink halls of the station. In several different halls experts have restored sections of the walls, columns, pilasters and metal and stone sculptures. They have also re-rendered façade masonry and restored the majolica on the fronton, depicting St George, the protector of Moscow. The majolica was cleaned and the missing bits substituted.
Decorative paintings were restored in the ticket hall of the station. Workers also restored the oval-shaped panel on the station’s ceiling depicting letters MKV and numbers 1914 and 1916. The letters MKV stand for Moscow-Kiev-Voronezh railway, while the numbers stand for the dates marking the beginning and the approximate date of the end of the railway’s construction.
Two estates and VDNKh flower beds
House with lions
Baron von Rekk’s estate mansion on Pyatnitskaya Street, also known as the House with Lions, was built in 1897. It was commissioned by Wilhelmina Rekk, the wife of Yakov Rekk who was the head of the Nikolskiye Ryady Partnership as well as the founder of the Moscow Trade and Construction Joint-Stock Company.
By 1897 the construction of the building had been completed. The mansion is richly decorated with mouldings, a monumental portico, Corinthian order columns and a front window with two caryatids. The left part of the building is shaped in the form of an octagonal turret, decorated with rusticated semicolumns, round windows and a scaled dome of a sophisticated shape.
The mansion received its unofficial name due to the sculptures of lying lions on both sides of the front portico. The mansion was richly decorated not just on the outside, but inside as well: several beautifully decorated great halls have been preserved, such as the mirror hall, the Mauritanian hall, the baroque hall, the music hall and the entrance hall.
A substantial amount of work has been done during the restoration of the mansion. Workers dismantled the partitions between the halls that had been built later on, stripped all the layers of paint off the walls and patched up the plaster ceilings. They also restored the windows, doors and parquet, remoulded plaster décor (restoring the gold-plated and silver-plated parts where necessary as well), decorative paintings on cartouches and inside the dome in one of the halls.
The Ostafyevo architectural park ensemble is one of the few remaining examples of Moscow region estates of the late 18th-early 19th century. For many years the estate belonged to Vyazemsky princes and their heirs. For 12 years, Nikolay Karamzin, author of the History of the Russian State had been living and working in Ostafyevo.
During a period of over 200 years of its history, the estate has changed significantly. The mansion’s appearance became distorted; the internal layout of the building was almost fully lost. Now this mansion became a federal historical and cultural heritage site.
In 2010, a concept of the estate territory development was established. The concept envisaged more than just adaptation. A general plan was developed, that included all museum zones together with their further development.
Since 2011, repair and restoration work has been ongoing in the estate. Workers have renovated the belvedere above the main house of the estate. In accordance with the design of 1822, those working there also built a new gazebo called the Temple of Apollo, restored the geometry of the vault in the Oval hall, and also created the conference room on the ground floor. Using the pictures from the estate’s museum made in the early 20th century, workers renovated the cultured marble in the Oval hall and its profiled cornice.
Between 2014 and 2015, workers covered the stoves with ceramic tiles, made a hydraulic platform for disabled visitors in the stairway addition of the eastern risalit and installed a semicircular window in the Oval hall.
In 2016, repair and restoration work in the estate’s main house came to a close. This is the part of the project competing in the contest. Experts recreated the architectural décor on the ground and the first floor of the building and installed the columns of the smaller order in the bedroom as well as sitting-room. Workers laid decorative parquet in eight great halls of the house. They also finished covering the stoves with ceramic tiles and painted the walls in every room.
VDNKh flower beds
For a whole year landscape architects together with designers worked to improve VDNKh flower beds. Their task was to recreate the flower beds that decorated the exhibition in 1954. The experts recreated the exact floral bed and greening designs. They used flowers similar to ones used originally, but more resilient to a modern environment.
Workers planted a total of 50,000 bushes, 200 trees and over two million flowers. The total area of flower beds was estimated to be around 20,000 square metres.
The Moscow government has been holding the Moscow Restoration contest since 2011. The participants include restoration project workshops, engineering and manufacturing organisations, owners and users of the cultural heritage sites, as well as other organisers and participants of repair and construction work at cultural heritage sites.
“For the past seven years a total of 890 landmarks have been restored in the city. During the last three years investors have been actively participating in restoration projects: for example, in 2016 over 50 percent of all objects were restored through their funding. It is also important to mention the introduction of a new award for young restorers – it shows recognition of the youth’s talent by experienced restoration experts. This profession is becoming increasingly popular, and the Moscow Restoration contest has greatly contributed to its popularity. Through this contest we tell people how important experts in cultural heritage sites restoration are, and how important the quality of their work is,” said Alexey Yemelyanov, Head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage. Last year’s winners of the Moscow Restoration contest were the restoration projects of the Berg’s House, Levenson’s print shop, the Kazansky railway station and the cathedral of the Donskoi Monastery.