A refurbishment of a building into an office of Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
The Garage Museum was moved from its original location at the Bahmetyevsky Bus Depot to Gorky Park in 2012. Its headquarters, were relocated to a seemingly anonymous building partly occupied by the park administration.
Research into the history of the site revealed an architectural palimpsest, a building with many lives that was marked by crucial events in Moscow’s history.
Built at the end of the 19th century as a shipyard, the building was reinvented several times, becoming a pavilion at the first All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, a cinema, a WWII trophy gallery, a bathhouse, and a shop of sanitary enquiment and ceramics. Several prominent architects were involved in its reconstructions, including Sergey Sherwood, Alexey Shchusev, El Lissitzky, Vasiliy Voinov, Rodrigo da Costa. By the 1990s, like many historic houses in the city centre, the building was taken over by small businesses and segmented into a labyrinth of cluttered offices.
Despite the fact that the office building is quite integral from the outside, it has existed for over half a century as two separate blocks with the cinema ruin in its centre, caused by a WWII air raid. The ruin can only be seen from the inside as it is divided by two blind facades.
The project focused on opening up the space and stripping it of recent layers to reveal its historic core. The plan of the cinema was adapted to the needs of the Garage Museum headquarters. The bickwork was exposed and revealed a patchwork of decades; arches of the shipyard, walls of the cinema, patches of clinker tile from ad hoc repairs. Original porthole windows and exits into the park were opened up, which brough the facade back to its rhythm of the 1930s.
The layering can be felt in the new interior; the historic shell envelopes several new functional volumes varied in form and finish. The rough shipyard walls become a backdrop for clean lines and textures of the new furnishings.
The various departments of the office are divided among 4 storeys, with each given a distinct space, while maintaining a visual connection with one another. The space can be observed in its entirety from the open circulation spaces.
The director’s office acts as an observation room suspended to the side of the other work areas. A panoramic window was installed to light the topmost mezzanine, revealing the ruined cinema and the city skyline with monuments of the Luzhkov era.