The renovation project of the building that used to house the office of the Novosukharevsky (New Sukharev) Market in Moscow’s Krasnoselsky District has been approved by the city Department of Cultural Heritage. The constructivist triangular shaped construction is a Soviet-era landmark dating back to the 1920s and 1930s and the first building designed by Konstantin Melnikov, the creator of the famous “headlight building” in Lefortovo.
The construction of the office building and the market itself began in 1924, after the city decided to erase the spontaneous outdoor market on Sukharevka. The stalls were to be put up on a vacant plot of land between Bolshoi Sukharevsky Pereulok, Trubnaya and Sadovo-Sukharevskaya streets. Melnikov proposed building wooden pavilions with shop windows looking out on both sides. The three shopping aisles converged like rays towards the centre, where the only brick building of the market office, or committee, which also housed a tavern, stood.
Initially, Melnikov pondered about the idea of a round office but then changed the design to a triangle to highlight the idea of rays. The design shows a triangle shaped base with one corner cut out. The staircase that begins at the top of the triangle, which emerges outdoors on the first floor, leads to a flat terrace roof. The constructivist geometry of the building is highlighted by vertical supports (pilasters) on the walls and rectangular windows. The only circular window is located on the front wall.
The architect thoroughly considered the layout of the market and its main entrances. Melnikov designed different-size stalls placed in parallel lines and also created a spatial design, which he described as “a dancing harmony orchestra.”
The Novosukharevsky Market flourished until 1930, after which it was converted into vehicle repair workshops. In the late 20th century, the building housed various offices and was rebuilt and repaired several times. As a result of this, the building’s flat roof was replaced with a pitched roof, the colour of the outdoor wall was changed, and some wooden window frames were replaced with plastic windows. The staircase that led up to the terrace was walled in, and none of the original doors were preserved.
“The renovation project provides for bringing back to life the building’s original look as it was in the 1930s. The new windows will be built in accordance with the remaining frames and photographs made in 1929. We will also recreate the metal chimney cap and the metal fence of the roof. The facades will be painted light grey and reddish brown, in accordance with the technological analysis of the pigment, after the walls are stripped of paint and the brick walls are patched up. Plans also provide for restoring the lamp on the building’s corner,” said head of the Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov.
He also added that that department experts will be overseeing the restoration job.
Konstantin Melnikov is remembered as a founding father of Russian constructivism. The Soviet Pavilion he designed and built for the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts (1925) in Paris was regarded as one of the most progressive buildings at the fair.
While in Paris, he was commissioned to design a garage for 1,000 cars for the city. Melnikov proposed a semi-transparent 10-storey cube and a suspended span building. These projects were never implemented in Paris, but he later used some of the ideas to build garages in Moscow.
One of the designs, a free-flow garage, was based on precise manoeuvring that enabled parking a large number of vehicles without ever having to go into reverse. The idea was incorporated in the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage. Unlike the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, the lorries in the semi-circular Novoryazanskaya Street Garage had to be parked conventionally, using reverse gear.
Konstantin Melnikov also designed culture centres, including the Rusakov Workers’ Club (1929) and the Frunze Dorkhimzavod Workers’ Club (1929). He also took part in a landscaping competition for Gorky Park in 1929 and completed the construction of his own residence in Krivoarbatsky Pereulok. These buildings are now considered part of Moscow’s cultural heritage and brilliant examples of the Soviet avant-garde.
The work to preserve and renovate up landmarks in Moscow carries on uninterruptedly, including the Gosplan Garage and a three-storey customs building in Lefortovo. The customs house is one of the few surviving buildings built in the capital’s southeast in the late 18th-early 19th century. The structure features an industrial eclectic style, which was common in the times of active industrial development in Moscow.