Zuyev Workers' Club
18 Lesnaya Ulitsa

Ilya Golosov 1927-1929

Zuyev Workers' Club was built for the workers of the Union of Communal Services between 1927 and 1929, to enlighten, educate and entertain them in line with the revolution. Somewhat run down, and after interior renovations in the 1970s (which filled in extensive glazing on the northeast facade, the left of the picture above), it is still a cultural center today, with a children's theater and a comic theater.

The Club is a good example of Constructivist principles in both structure and style: the bold, glass cylinder in the corner housing a generous staircase; the power of the rectangular concrete structure at the upper level, which is exaggerated by the lightness and the recessed position of the glass cylinder penetrating it; and the asymmetry of the facades.

Golosov was born in 1883; Construvist designs such as the Zuyev Workers' Club represent only a brief period of his life in his 40s. Before the First World War, he as a pupil of Aleksei Shchusev, designer of the Narkomzem building and Lenin's mausoleum. His sense of the revolutionary potential of modern architecture had much in common with modernists in the west at the time:

"The study and knowledge of proportions as such is necessary in the early part of architectural education, but must not be based exclusively on the examples of the classics. In these artistic works which constantly repeat the same overall structure, as do Greek temples for example, students can work out for themselves the more or less constant relationships of different parts of the building. But in the study of proportions in general, we must not be led only by those principles, since the sets of proportions necessary for certain given kinds of design work must be created afresh.

The architecture of the present and the future cannot be built upon slavery and subordination to the history of art. Life demands of us, contemporary architects, an altogether more fruitful activity in the spirit of our own time. It demands products in full accord with the technology and the social structure of life today.

What then are the requirements that must be made of the contemporary architect? Above all he must so create artistic forms that they respond to the place, the time, and the spirit or idea of the thing which is being created. The architect must be freed from style, in the old sense of the word, and must himself create the style which emerges as a result of a correspondence between the architectural forms and the content or purpose, the idea, which they serve... We should not be actors-out of historical architecture, but creators of forms that are rational for the age in which they arose."

Simon Glynn 2007

How to visit

The Zuyev Workers' Club is at 18 Lesnaya Ulitsa, just northeast of Belorusskaya Station, to the northwest of the city center along Tverskaya Ulitsa.

From the Belorusskaya metro station, head northeast on Lesnaya Ulitsa; the building is just 2-3 minutes' walk, on the righthand side, directly opposite the Holiday Inn Lesnaya – which has rather less architectural distinction, but is a more visible landmark as you approach.

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