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Perspective view  

Kapustin apartment building.

159 Fontanka Embankment.

1910-12.

 

In my opinion, this is the summit of the architect's work. The topic of the corner, which obviously attracted Bubyr, and which he had long worked on, is developed here to the highest extent.

As the house is designed to be looked at from the distance, it's solution is massive, with no small details, except for a barely noticeable relief on the gables.

 
South-eastern facade  

The southern facade, overlooking the Fontanka river, is a giant Suprematist composition. The two-coloured facade is cut through by windows in a way which seems random at first sight. But looking more closely, you can notice several interrelated axes of symmetry.

The axis of the entrance is joined by a bay window, then continuing into a narrow window on the gable. The vertical lines - the angles and the bay window - are emphasized by a lighter plaster. The horizontal line of the cornice is interrupted by a powerful chord of the roof above the corner part of the house. The complex rhythm of the horizontal lines is taken up by a tiled roof above the second floor.

 

The roof turned out especially successfully, being a combination of a span roof and a half-hipped roof with an additional element. It's a pity though that the attics are fake - all the windows higher than the sixth floor are dormers, and behind them there aren't apartments, but garrets.

 
Corner part  

In some fragments of the house, you can notice the influence of Meltzer's buildings on the Stone Island, gables are clearly taken from the Baltic architecture, but all of this merges very organically in Bubyr's style, forming a wonderful whole.

 

It is interesting to compare this house to F.P. Tolstoy's house by Lidval, which is also on the Fontanka river. Built approximately at the same time, and with a similar appearance from the Northern side, the two houses clearly reflect both the individual styles of the architects, and two different planning concepts, used by them depending on the site.

The site of Tolstoy's house is situated in the very centre of the city, opposite the Cabinet of Anchikov's Palace (G. Quarenghi), not far from Anichkov's Bridge and the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace (A. Stackenschneider). It would have been unvise to create one more strongly developed capacity on this important site. That's why Lidval designes the house as an insertion, continuing the line of existing facades and developing the body of the house mainly into depth.

The most interesting about the house are is the internal space of three cozy yards, built in a renaissance spirit and connected by magnificent arches.

Lidval's house can be described as "inside", interior, passing yard. According to Freud it is a feminine house.

Bubyr's task was different. The site where house №159 is standing, is situated among unrepresentative buildings of various heights. It was necessary to create here a house-monument that could "hold" a rather large space around it.

Both architects, working, each in his own style, on a task that allowed them to fully use their experience and talent, achieved excellent results.

The house on the Fontanka river, 159, looks especially good in a bad weather. In October or November, in the rain, it is standing there, radiating by its whole appearance the idea of a shelter, a home, protected against the bad weather.

Here it seems to me appropriate to quote the words of Charles Moore, written in 1967. Those words could serve as an epigraph to the entire work of Alexei Bubyr, and they also apply to Vasilyev and Lidval: «If architects want to do some useful work on this planet, their main concern should be, as it has always been, creating a " place " that has its own characteristic features and reflects appropriately the man's idea about his position on the globe. ... Such creation helps people understand where, in fact, they are and consequently who they are.»




View from south View from Fontanka Embankment Stairs Staircase window South-eastern facade Fragment of facade by Klimov Lane Canvas of Alexander Dashevsky

Photos by A. Mamlyga, V. and Yu. Tezin, G. Krylov

Painting by A. Dashevsky

Text: A. Mamlyga (1993), translated by D. Alyoshin (2011)


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