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Жилой дом
NARKOMFIN SHOP
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Books on architecture and design, new titles from Garage Publishing, and interior items, clothing, and stationery.

TAKE A LOOK
THE FUTURE IS UPON US
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What happens when the future erases everything in its path? Listen to special edition of the Station Radio by SBPCh

LISTEN
GIVE A VISIT TO THE NARKOMFIN BUILDING
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A “Day at the Narkomfin Building” certificate includes a tour of the building and the Narkomfin Café, plus a free dessert and drink.

DISCOVER MORE
WHAT IS THE NARKOMFIN BUILDING MADE OF?
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Reinforced concrete, rushes, straw, and sawdust were used to construct the building. Discover more about the building and its history on a tour.

BUY A TICKET
HOW TO VISIT NARKOMFIN CAFÉ
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Buy a GARAGE card or sign up for a tour of the Narkomfin Building

DISCOVER MORE
The Future is Upon Us
SBPCh
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Geometry of the Lost
Brodyachaya Sobaka
Text Link
savage moving in
aborigen
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paperwall story
Kosaya Gora
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дОм_НаРкОмфИнА.mp4a (18+)
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About the Narkomfin Building

About the project

The Narkomfin Building is an institutional and research project of Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. The Museum team is studying both the architectural significance of the building and the life stories of its creators and inhabitants over a period of 100 years. The knowledge generated will form the basis of tour itineraries, publications, and various public and education projects constructed around this legendary building. In addition, residents of the building, Museum patrons, and GARAGE cardholders have access to Narkomfin Café, and a book shop has opened on the first floor of the residential block.

History of the building

The residential building created for staff of the Ministry of Finance of the RSFSR, which is now known as the Narkomfin Building, is one of the best-known experimental constructions in the USSR of the late 1920s and early 1930s.

The history of the building’s construction is closely connected with social processes taking place in the first decades of the USSR’s existence. Representatives of various professions were tasked with educating the new Soviet citizen, who would speak a new language, live according to the precepts of communism, and, as a result, become a true champion of its ideas. In architecture this led to the creation of house-communes and “transitional type” projects such as the Narkomfin Building. Laundry, childcare, and even residents’ leisure activities were all designed to take place in shared spaces and meals were to be served in a communal dining room.

However, the Narkomfin Building was famous not so much for its social concept as its unusual architectural solution.

The Narkomfin Building was based on designs for apartments developed by staff of the section for typifying residential accommodation of the Construction Committee (STROIKOM) of the RSFSR, headed by Moisei Ginzburg. The architect Alexander Pasternak, brother of the poet Boris Pasternak, became the lead staff member and a close associate of Ginzburg. He was the author of a series of projects for living cells, as compact apartments designed for various types of family were then called.

As a result of the section’s work, a decree was issued that recommended various versions of living cells for mass construction and the rest for experimental buildings. The design provided economical but comfortable living accommodation for the time, and natural lighting was also preferred.

The few remaining design drawings for the Narkomfin Building—working drawings and blueprint copies—do not entirely match the building as constructed. (In 1934, Ginzburg published the drawings submitted for approval and not the final version.) In particular, in some apartments additional rooms were created and other elements were included that did not feature in the design. However, from the beginning the Narkomfin Building consisted of three blocks: the housekeeping block, the communal block, and the residential block (the unbuilt second project included another housekeeping block and a second residential block).

The Narkomfin Building’s residential block is situated deep within the site and is oriented almost exactly from north to south, parallel with the part of the Garden Ring known as Novinsky Bulvar. The sun entered the building from the east facade in the morning (into the bedrooms, the glazed gallery, the corridor, and kitchens) and from the west facade, in which direction the main spaces consisting of combined dining and living rooms faced, in the evening.

All of the apartments are incorporated within the dimensions of the axes of the framework and columns. The small, two-level F-type cells occupied one section of the framework and the K-type two-level cells occupied two (16 pairs of F-type cells were arranged over eight K-type cells). Unlike the F-type cells, the K-type cells were designed in two mirror image versions to simplify the paired grouping of engineering communications—ventilation channels, extractor fans, water pipes, etc.

Leading engineer Sergei Prokhorov was responsible for engineering solutions during construction. He was one of the first people to use kamyshit (cane fiber), a light but non-durable material with excellent insulating qualities. The building was also constructed using “peasant” cement blocks, which were made on site, and spiral reinforcement for the round, loadbearing columns.

The color scheme of the apartments was also non-standard. It was developed by Bauhaus professor Hinnerk Scheper, who had been invited to the USSR, and his student Erich Borchert.

The building was commissioned by the People’s Commissariat for Finance (Narkomfin) of the RSFSR, which was headed by Nikolai Milyutin. He personally supervised the construction of the residential part of the building and, it appears, agreed with Moisei Ginzburg that he would design his own apartment, a penthouse on the roof. An important element of Milyutin’s concept was the direct link between the kitchen and the dining room, which was created using a suspended counter in the form of a flat “wall” with a window through which dishes could be served from the kitchen on to a long dinner table at which all of the residents and their guests would gather in the two-story dining room.

The first residents moved into the Narkomfin Building in 1931, but by 1936 alterations and redesigns had already begun to take place. For a while, Ginzburg’s studio was located in the communal block. Then it was home to the kindergarten, which had not been allocated a separate building. Starting in 1947, the building was redesigned. The first floor of the communal block was reorganized to create two low floors and six windows along the façade instead of continuous glazing. The columns in the club were supplemented with plaster capitals and “historical” Ionic cornices, and the terrace was built on. The dining room ceased to exist, having practically not even begun to operate, since prepared dishes were given to residents to take away. Instead, a communal kitchen was built on the fifth floor of the residential block, with rows of stovetops and washtubs. The kindergarten was closed, and the communal block became a printing house. The laundry remained, but eventually stopped serving residents. In the end, the building was transferred to the local housing department, and they gradually stopped repairing it.

At various times, as well as architect Moisei Ginzburg and Nikolai Milyutin, residents of the building included Nikolai Krylenko, People’s Commissar for Justice of the USSR, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, People’s Commissar for Justice of the USSR, Nikolai Sokolov, Chair of the Board of Gosbank of the USSR, Sergei Karp, Chair of Gosplan of the RSFSR, Nikolai Lisitsyn, People’s Commissar of Agriculture of the RSFSR, Daniil Sulimov, Chair of the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR, and his deputy, Turar Ryskulov, Nikolai Semashko, former People’s Commissar of Health of the RSFSR and his family, Soviet painter Alexander Deineka, Bolshoi Theater soloist Olga Insarova (Okorokova), actress Olga Bgan, chief surgeon of the Soviet Army Alexander Vishnevsky, and others. In the 1930s, the residents of the building did not avoid the fate of the rest of the country. Many of them were subject to repressions.

A detailed study of the Narkomfin Building, although not the first such research project, was undertaken by Moscow Architectural Institute (MARKHI) in 1990, with the participation of students led by Elena Ovsyannikova (MARKHI), Jean-Claude Ludi (University of Geneva), architectural historian Alexei Tarkhanov, and designer Mark Konik. At that point it became clear that during construction there were significant changes to the previously approved design drawings, and no fewer than eleven types of apartment were identified within the Narkomfin Building. Until the mid-2000s, there was no major work on the building, and as a result by that time it was in dangerous condition. Notwithstanding constant rumors about the demolition of the Narkomfin Building and attempts to turn it into aboutique hotel, in 2017 the plan for the restoration of the building, led by Alexey Ginzburg, the grandson of Moisei Ginzburg, was approved. By the time of this major restoration project, almost everything inside the apartments and in the corridor of the residential block had been broken and disposed of, including the unique oak woodwork with the bronze rollers of the sliding windows and the cast-iron radiators.

The restoration and partial reconstruction of the apartments, the aim of which was to re-establish the original external and internal design of the building, ribbon glazing, color schemes, and individual architectural elements, was completed in 2020. Of the surviving postwar alterations, it was decided to retain the lift shaft, which is now the main difference with the external appearance of the building in the early 1930s.

You can see the results of the restoration during a tour devised by Garage guide Zhanna Sevastyanova and Moisei Ginzburg’s grandson, Alexey Ginzburg.

 Station Radio

Sounding drawings, a guitar intervention, and a play about the failed constructivist dream—the third season of Station Radio explores the Narkomfin Building.
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Moisei Ginzburg and Ignaty Milinis, 2nd Building of the Council of People's Commissars, internal view of corridor of Type F apartments. Illustration from Moisei Ginzburg's book Dwelling.
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Geometry of the Lost
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paperwall story
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To Utopia and Back
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Visiting

The communal block of the Narkomfin Building is open to residents, Museum patrons, and GARAGE cardholders, and also those visiting the building as part of a tour.

HOURS

Open daily, 10:00–22:00

The bookshop on the first floor of the residential block is open to all, daily, 11:00–22:00. To enter, please press “i” on the black stand to the right of the door and wait for the member of staff.

How to get there

on the metro

We recommend walking to the Narkomfin Buildingfrom Barrikadnaya metro station (Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line). Afterleaving the station, turn right and walk to Barrikadnaya Street. Withoutcrossing the road, turn left and walk to the Garden Ring. At the trafficlights, cross Barrikadnaya Street (toward the square) and walk in the directionof Novy Arbat. After the VEB.RF business center, turn right into MalyKonyushkovsky Pereulok, walk to the end of the building and then cross the roadvia the pedestrian crossing. Turn right and walk ahead a little. You will see atraffic barrier. This is the entry to the Narkomfin Building.

Walk underneath the residential block to theend. You will see the communal block behind it, with its glazed wall.

by car

There is paid parking on Kudrinskaya Square andNovinsky Bulvar. Please note that the number of spaces is limited, and parkingmay be full at weekends and on holidays.

by bus

The nearest bus stop on the Garden Ring is “Chaliapin House” (buses B, 239, c369, 379).

VISIT RULES

When planning your visit, please see the rules for visiting the communalblock of the Narkomfin Building.

In the communal block of the Narkomfin Building it is not permitted to:

  • smoke
  • touch or move the exhibits
  • bring large items of luggage
  • bring firearms or any kind of weapons, explosives, fireworks or gascylinders
  • eat or drink other than in Narkomfin Café
  • use bicycles, scooters, roller skates or similar means of transport orsporting equipment

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Unfortunately, the communal block of the Narkomfin Building does not have a ramp and is not accessible for wheelchair users. 

When using mobile phones, please consider the people around you.

Personal photography and videography is permitted. Prior permission is necessary to take photographs or film using professional equipment. Please write to info@narkomfin.ru no less than three working days before the shoot.

If you would like to use the Narkomfin Building for an event, please send a request to info@narkomfin.ru no less than two weeks before the planned date.

GARAGE CARD

GARAGE card is the loyalty program of Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, which manages the communal block of the Narkomfin Building.

GARAGE cardholders can access the communal block of the Narkomfin Building and Narkomfin Café, together with up to two friends. They also receive:

  • 15% discount in Garage Café in the Museum building
  • 10% discount in Garage Shop in Moscow and St. Petersburg
  • Access to the Garage Rooftop pavilion on Sundays
  • 50% discount on the Garage Screen film program
  • 15% discount on Walks with Garage
  • And much more

Find out more about the loyalty program here.

The loyalty program managers will be happy to tell you more about the program:
+7 499 345 10 00
members@garagemca.org

Students can buy a card for 2,000 rubles. You can purchase a student card at the information desks at Garage and in the communal block of the Narkomfin Building.

Private Patrons

Private patrons of Garage Museum of Contemporary Artare directly involved in the life and strategic development of the institution.One of the opportunities provided by this status is the possibility toorganize meetings and events in the communal block of the NarkomfinBuilding, at Garage, and in the Education Center in Gorky Park.

Our staff will be happy to advise you on ways of supporting Garage and other privileges of the patrons program. 
+7 495 645 05 20
patronship@garagemca.org

Buy a GARAGE Card

Narkomfin Café

The café is situated on the third floor of the communal block. It is open to residents, patrons, GARAGE cardholders, and those visiting the Narkomfin Building as part of a tour.

The menu is based around appetizers, salads, and main dishes made from seasonal produce by chef Igor Kotov, cakes created by pastry chef Lena Nabiullina specially for the Narkomfin Building, and signature keto desserts. The bar menu includes unusual Russian wines, special cocktails, coffee, and tea.

Narkomfin Building Bookshop

The bookshop is open daily from 11:00 to 20:00. It is on the first floor of the residential block of the building. To enter, press “i” on the black stand to the right of the door and wait for the member of staff.

The architecture and color scheme of the bookshop are based on the original design for the space, where from 1931 there was a residential cell which was refitted as a library after 1963. The accent in the interior is the hanging lamp, which is a glass sphere 60cm in diameter. It appeared due to the stylistic features of constructivism, which employed various types of hanging lamps rather than ceiling lighting.

The bookshop offers hard-to-find publications on the history of constructivism and the avant-garde, books about design and architecture, new titles from the publishing program at Garage, and also Objects Series No. 1, a selection of gifts and stationery designed by the Garage team and inspired by the history of the Narkomfin Building and its architecture. The series includes cards and posters, brass stationery items, mugs and keyrings with the Narkomfin Building logo, and clothing and interior items created in collaboration with Russian designers and creative groups.

Tours

Manifesto for a New Life. The Narkomfin Building

During the tour, participants will go insidethe building and learn how workers, engineers, and architects experimented withspace, wall color, construction materials, and the number of levels in cell apartments.

They will have the opportunity to evaluate the original architectural design and see the results of the restoration of the building, which was completed according to the original drawings. The tour also includes a visit to the Narkomfin café, which is located on the third floor of the communal block. 

This tour was created by Garage guide Zhanna Sevostyanova in collaboration with the grandson of Moisei Ginzburg, Alexey Ginzburg.

HOW TO TAKE PART

Architecture walking tours are not translated into English.

Buy а ticket

THE FUTURE IS UPON US

What happens when the future erases everything in its path? Listen to special edition of the Station Radio by SBPCh
LISTEN

What is the Narkomfin
Building made of?

Reinforced concrete, rushes, straw, and sawdust were used to construct the building. Discover more about the building and its history on a tour.
Buy a ticket

Give a visit to
the Narkomfin Building

A “Day at the Narkomfin Building” certificate includes a tour of the building and the Narkomfin Café, plus a free dessert and drink.
Discover more

The first Soviet penthouse
was right here

Discover how it was built and who lived there on a tour.
Buy a ticket

Narkomfin Shop

Books on architecture and design, new titles from Garage Publishing, and interior items, clothing, and stationery.
take a look

How to visit Narkomfin Café

Buy a GARAGE card or sign up for a tour of the Narkomfin Building.
Discover more

Please note

October 17 the communal block of the Narkomfin Building is closed from 16:00 to 22:00
VISIT RULES
For the best experience of the site, please turn your phone vertically or open the site on a computer.