La Maison Melnikov: Villa Arbat

La Maison Melnikov is a single-family house, a monument of Soviet avant-garde architecture. It was built in 1927-1929 on Krivoarbatsky Lane in Moscow, designed by the outstanding Soviet architect Konstantin Melnikov for himself and his family.

By Balthazar Malevolent

La Maison Melnikov: Villa Arbat

La Maison Melnikov is more of a cultural anomaly rather than an architectural marvel. Konstantin Melnikov, the main dreamer of the Soviet avant-garde, managed to build an experimental three-storey apartment building for his family in the era of the 'housing question'. This project to introduce new architectural forms was to become the prototype of the Soviet commune houses.

The building consists of two vertical cylinders cut into each other. Numerous hexagonal windows that ornament the façade, a light, cathedral-like studio on the third floor. Above the entrance, there is a proudly carved relief reading "Konstantin Melnikov Architect".

Despite a 15-year loan from Mossovet, Melnikov was severely strapped for cash. The house was built in austerity from the cheapest traditional materials: wood and brick. There are no load-bearing structures inside and almost no isolated rooms.

From the low ground floor to the high bright studio and roof terrace, the space of the house seems to expand. The artist's colour palette enhances the effect: honey-yellow bedrooms, a purple spacious living room, white architect's studio.

The studio house is the pinnacle of Melnikov's work and is distinguished by its innovative design features, original artistic image, volumetric-spatial composition, and well-thought-out functional layout. The single-family residential mansion in the centre of Moscow is a unique example of this type of construction in Soviet times.

La Maison Melnikov - Villa Arbat
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