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28 November 2019



Melnikov House: Saving an Avant-Garde Icon

5th International Iconic Houses Lecture Tour debuts in US & Canada

  • © Denis Esakov
  • © Denis Esakov
  • © Denis Esakov
  • © Denis Esakov
  • © Pavel Kuznetsov
  • © Pavel Kuznetsov
  • © Schusev State Museum of Architecture
  • © Denis Esakov
  • © Denis Esakov
  • © Denis Esakov
  • © Denis Esakov
  • © Pavel Kuznetsov
  • © Pavel Kuznetsov
  • © Schusev State Museum of Architecture

The 5th edition of the International Iconic Houses Lecture Tour took place in Europe from 7-15 October 2019, when Pavel Kuznetsov, Director of the State Museum of Konstantin and Viktor Melnikov and Deputy Director of the Schusev State Museum of Architecture in Moscow toured six iconic houses in six European cities with his lecture on the Melnikov House in Moscow. Photos of this epic tour can be found in our Photo Gallery. Between 21-27 February 2020, Iconic Houses fans in North America and Canada can also enjoy our annual lecture!

Pavel Kuznetsov's Iconic Houses Lecture at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam
 

ICONIC HOUSES Lecture to Debut in USA and Canada
Following the success of our annual lecture tour in Europe over the past five years, we are bringing the event to the USA and Canada. The launch of the first North American lecture tour, with Pavel Kuznetsov on the Melnikov House, is during Modernism Week in Palm Springs in February 2020.

Lecture Itinerary February 2020

21 Feb Lecture hosted by Sunnylands Center & Gardens at the Rancho Mirage Public Library, 71-100 HWY 111, Rancho Mirage, CA, as part of the Sunnylands Series. 
24 Feb Lecture hosted by the Hollyhock House at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, 4800 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. 
27 Feb Lecture hosted by the West Coast Modern League at Inform Interiors, 50 Water St, Vancouver, BC, Canada. 

The Melnikov House
The Melnikov House, designed by architect Konstantin Melnikov (1890-1974) for himself and his family, is an icon of the Russian architectural avant-garde. The experimental cylindrical structure was built between 1927 and 1929 to test Melnikov’s concepts for mass-produced housing. Melnikov believed that the essence of his house lay in the balance and equivalence of weight, light, air and heat. The original layout, elegant spatial arrangement, and ingenious engineering techniques are combined in a unique architectural form that still looks modern. Retaining some historic elements of the 20th century, the house also reflects the tragic life of this solo architect in a collectivist society.

Pavel Kuznetsov discussed the history of the Melnikov House from its inception in the early 20th century through establishing the museum in 2014 and conservation project nowadays. He explored the newly found information that uncovered the architectural, engineering, and philosophical ideas lying behind Melnikov’s ambitious plan to build an architectural manifesto in 1920s Soviet Russia.

  • Villa Stenersen, Oslo, Norway: Kirsten Thorseth Poppe, Gudrun Eidsvik, Pavel Kuznetsov.
  • Baukunstarchiv NRW, Dortmund, Germany. Photo Detlef Podehl.
  • Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, Germany. Sophia Ungers, Pavel Kuznetsov. Photo Heidrun Hertel.
  • Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, Germany. Photo Heidrun Hertel.
  • Hetty Berens, Pavel Kuznetsov, Natascha Drabbe at Sonneveld House Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Photo Els Zweerink.
  • Pavel Kuznetsov at Sonneveld House Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Photo Els Zweerink.
  • Pavel Kuznetsov at Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Photo Els Zweerink.
  • Pavel Kuznetsov at Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo Petr Dvorak.
  • Iveta Černá, Pavel Kuznetsov at Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo Petr Dvorak.
  • Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo Petr Dvorak.
  • Maria Szadkowska, Pavel Kuznetsov at Villa Müller's Study and Documentation Centre Norbertov, Prague, Czech Republic.
  • Villa Stenersen, Oslo, Norway: Kirsten Thorseth Poppe, Gudrun Eidsvik, Pavel Kuznetsov.
  • Baukunstarchiv NRW, Dortmund, Germany. Photo Detlef Podehl.
  • Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, Germany. Sophia Ungers, Pavel Kuznetsov. Photo Heidrun Hertel.
  • Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, Germany. Photo Heidrun Hertel.
  • Hetty Berens, Pavel Kuznetsov, Natascha Drabbe at Sonneveld House Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Photo Els Zweerink.
  • Pavel Kuznetsov at Sonneveld House Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Photo Els Zweerink.
  • Pavel Kuznetsov at Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Photo Els Zweerink.
  • Pavel Kuznetsov at Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo Petr Dvorak.
  • Iveta Černá, Pavel Kuznetsov at Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo Petr Dvorak.
  • Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic. Photo Petr Dvorak.
  • Maria Szadkowska, Pavel Kuznetsov at Villa Müller's Study and Documentation Centre Norbertov, Prague, Czech Republic.

Film
Fragments of the documentary 'Konstantin Melnikov' (1999) by Jet Christiaanse and Marjo Leupers accompanied the lecture to see the person of Melnikov in a historic context of the 20th century through the eyes of architectural historians and Melnikov’s son, the artist Viktor Melnikov (1914-2006). The film is already a piece of its time when the future of the Melnikov House and other buildings designed by Melnikov was uncertain.

Pavel Kuznetsov
Pavel Kuznetsov, is an economist by education, and a researcher in Soviet avant-garde architecture by vocation. He lives in a constructivist apartment in a house commune in Moscow and works as deputy director of the Schusev State Museum of Architecture. Since 2014, he has overseen the collections and archives of the Melnikov House and its transition from a private home to a public museum. As director of the State Museum of Konstantin and Viktor Melnikov he also directed the pre-conservation survey of the Melnikov House, supported by a grant from Keeping it Modern, an initiative of the Getty Foundation. His book, The Melnikov House: Icon of the Avant-Garde, Family Home, Architecture Museum was published in Berlin in 2017. When not researching, he was the first Russian to successfully swim the English Channel (in 14 hours, 33 minutes, 25 seconds).

The Melnikov House - Icon of the Avant-Garde Family Home Architecture Museum
This book gives a detailed account of its creation and history right through the 20th century, the transitional state from residential dwelling to museum, and the house's current condition while still awaiting an in-depth survey and conservation work. The volume contains rich archival materials as well as recent photographs. It describes the challenges and choices of museumification. Many memorial objects from the house are linked to the professional and family life of the architect and published for the first time.

About the ICONIC HOUSES Lecture Series
The Iconic Houses Lecture Series launched in 2014 in five cities in Europe to raise awareness about modern house museums and their frequent struggles to survive. As speakers, we welcomed the directors of and experts on some of the world’s most Iconic Houses, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Philip Johnson’s Glass House and Eileen Gray’s Villa E-1027. The initiative in Europe was taken by five house museums: Sonneveld House, Haus Ungers, Villa Stenersen, Villa Tugendhat and Van Schijndel House, followed in 2018 by Villa Müller.
All previous lectures can be found as video on the Iconic Houses website.

Lecture Itinerary October 2019

7 Oct Villa Stenersen in Oslo, Norway  
8 Oct Haus Ungers/UAA at the Baukunstarchiv NRW in Dortmund, Germany  
9 Oct Haus Ungers/UAA at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne, Germany  
10 Oct Sonneveld House at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, The Netherlands  
14 Oct Villa Müller at Study and Documentation Centre Norbertov in Prague, Czech Republic  
15 Oct Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic  

Posted 19 November 2019