The main goal of the ideological reconstruction of the Moscow Academic Art Theater in 2019 was the Open Stages project: turning the theater into a new cultural and educational cluster for citizens who are “looking for living meanings and images and believe in the theater’s ability to unite creative practices.”
Project Reconstruction of the Moscow Art Theater named after M. Gorky (1st phase)
Location 22 Tverskoy Boulevard, Moscow, Russia
Total area 25,744 sq.m
Architecture Archiproba Studios
Lead architect Tamara Muradova
Photographer Max Avdeev
As a result, the physical spaces of the theater have also changed: the concept of hospitality, multidisciplinarity and “mixing of languages” was incorporated into the building on Tverskoy boulevard by its authors, headed by Vladimir Kubasov. Architect Tamara Muradova only needed to find all its elements with the care and curiosity of an archaeologist and breathe new life into them.
The project of the Moscow Art Theater is one of those rare cases when the architect acted as a true demiurgeand thought through the building from the first concrete to last doorknob. Vladimir Kubasov, together with colleagues A. Morgulis and V. Ulyashov, as part of the Mosproekt-2 workshop, worked on this object for almost 10 years and, according to him, actually lived these years in the future building. Before the start of the reconstruction, initiated by the newly arrived artistic director Eduard Boyakov, Kubasov visited the theater again and commented on virtually every corner: how it was conceived, how it was made, and what is wrong with it today.
“Wrong”, unfortunately, was everywhere: over the past 30-plus years, the building has functioned flawedly one-sidedly, receiving guests only during performances; it became stagnant, overgrown, “swampy”, and the luxurious balcony turned out to be littered with unnecessary furniture, walls with decorative plasters, different on each floor, hung with posters of dubious artistic value; a fountain with a copper bowl and hand-made glass figurines depicting the underwater world, bashfully covered with a plywood box; and thousands of meters of public spaces on four floors are virtually unclaimed. So, Tamara Muradova, first of all had to unleash the potential of this unique object: to restore hospitality, transform it into a multitude of “open stages” with various functions, adapt it to a new extensive program of lectures, discussions, performances and master classes, and, of course, restore and force to take a fresh look at all the original ideas of modernist authors.
An important part was the work on the entrance group of the building was to tell how much the theater has changed inside and how it looked forward to visitors at any time. First, they made a sign for it: simple, understandable, without Shekhtel’s curls, as some suggested, but with backlighting. We redesigned the entire corporate identity, including posters. At the same time, in addition to standard paper posters on columns, designed for those who walk near the theater, light boxes with digital micro-rollers were integrated into the facade showcase, which were read with peripheral vision by those who drive or pass by along the boulevard. Thus, the theater began to give “signals” both for the near and for the long term.
And this, perhaps, is the most “modern” innovation of the reconstruction so far – Tamara Muradova feels awe and boundless respect for the original design of the building in everything. She says with admiration that, if desired, the entire theater could be rebuilt, because the entire archive of drawings, drawn to the millimeter, has been preserved. He talks about Kubasov’s idea to design a building as the personification of the natural world – hence all these muted colors and complex textures of bark and branches. She admires the dedication of the architect, who, armed with an ordinary stick like a spear, “cut through” these branches with their own hands on soft concrete before plastering.