A guide to the New East

Melnikov House: past and present

 

In 1929 celebrated architect Konstantin Melnikov finished construction on the remarkable building that was designed both to change the way the world looked at housing and to be his family home. While not an avowed Constructivist, Melnikov’s advocacy for practicality and experimentation align him closely with that movement. The innovative house he built — comprised of two interlocking cylinders — survived the tough years of the last century intact (and still in private hands), before suffering in recent decades from both structural damage and disputes over ownership.

Yekaterina Karinskaya, granddaughter of Konstantin Melnikov and daughter of the painter Viktor Melnikov, talks about the history of the house, interweaving memories of her father and grandfather with musings on the house’s endurance, accompanied by images of and by Konstantin and Viktor Melnikov.

The Ministry of Culture has now announced plans to turn Melnikov House into a museum. Before that decision was made, Karinskaya, the house’s sole resident, discussed the problems she faces conserving Melnikov House and its current perilous condition.

Safeguarding the materials of the house, described by Karinskaya as “fantastic”, is a major concern for Melnikov’s granddaughter. Documenting the numerous attempts at maintaining the building, Karinskaya discusses the problems she faces conserving Melnikov House and its current perilous condition.

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Text: Nadia Beard. Camera: Anastasia Ivanova. Image: Sergey Kaptilkin, Nikolai Vassiliev under a CC licence

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