Abrikosov House

Delicate work with historic layers

7. Residential

Concepts

2018

The Abrikosov mansion – the building at the heart of this restoration project – is a house with a complex history. From its conception at the end of the 17th century, the building gradually extended upwards, as floors were progressively layered atop the chambers of the merchant Guryevs. Then in the second half of the 19th century, the entrepreneur and famous collector of Russian art Kokorev carried out a large-scale reconstruction of the house, increasing its overall area. Prior to the revolution, the mansion belonged to the industrialist Abrikosov family, who occupied a single twelve-room apartment, while the other quarters were let out to tenants. By the 1930s, the building had become nationalised, and was then further developed into a four-floor building, to which a fifth attic storey was later added.

The interiors and facades of Abrikosov house, which had only been partially preserved, are now being comprehensively restored. The renovated spaces within the building do not hark back to the 19th century, but underscores a continuation of history through design, which supports both the spirit of the house as well as the times. This is a unique project that is not typified through reference to a specific historical period. It fluidly combines what was with what could be.

There is no ‘value gradient’ in the new interior design – the same busy approach and natural materials are used in both the apartments and public spaces. All new interiors refer to the Russian-Italian craft logic of design in their chosen material, deft workmanship, painstaking attention to detail, chosen materials, and prescription of preparatory sketches to inform interior details.

Each apartment is palatial, boasting its own open fireplace and bespoke array of handicraft items including marble products, mirrors and lamps, as well as rooms adorned with undercut cornices and ceiling paintings, creating a vault-like illusion.

The project’s main materials are natural stones, marbles and complex plasters made using ancient technologies and natural pigments. The colour palette highlights the layering that defines the building’s history – pure and defined patches of colour are dismissed for the fragmentary remnants of hues, scattered here and there.

The Abrikosov apartment. The restored apartments of a pre-revolutionary industrialist

The ground floor of the Abrikosov House in Potapovsky Lane is where we find the twelve-room apartment of the manufacturer himself, which in not having undergone redevelopment, has retained the original design for each room. All the halls known for their rich decoration – the Pink Drawing Room, the Pompeii Hall, the Boudoir, the Mirror Vestibule, the Dining Room – have all been carefully restored. Abrikosov's apartment also includes vaulted chambers typical of the 17th century, which, once restored, will house recreation rooms.

In wet areas, laminated parquet gives way to marble flooring in continuation of the parquet pattern. Like all the other apartments, Abrikosov's quarters retain the original open fireplace.

Without touching the historical, stucco walls, a marble monolith with slat mirrors spanning its full height has been inserted, in accordance with a principle of precise and careful intervention that guided much of the apartment’s restoration and is prevalently applied elsewhere in the Abrikosov House. Murals, stucco and parquet are thoroughly restored, yet there is no historicism in the new elements – they do not depict history, but continue it. The authenticity of historical details echoes the authenticity of the modern elements.

The courtyard of the Abrikosov House. A back garden situated in the city’s historic centre

The courtyard is situated around a historic building that has been reconstructed and turned into apartments. Located at different heights, the various entrances to the house are approached by the garden, whose very surface forms a landscape sculpture.

From the arch of the main entrance, the entire courtyard rises in broad levels, like Italian Renaissance gardens, where green islands of bushes and trees are laid out across the steps. Meanwhile, the former carriage house in the courtyard has been transformed into a romantic grotto for solitary contemplation.

Lightning: Yarko-Yarko, Ilya Semenov

Landscape design: Alena Panova