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David Chipperfield to revamp 1920s Moscow landmark

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David Chipperfield Architects has been picked to restore the 1927 Central Telegraph building in Moscow  

The project, which is backed by recently founded development company Vos’hod, aims to restore and revive Ivan Rerberg’s innovative concrete-frame office block, which was among the most advanced buildings of its time.

Practice founder David Chipperfield described the existing structure in Tverskaya Street, currently used as office and co-working spaces, as ‘an historically significant and architecturally pioneering building’.

He said: ‘It is our ambition to reinstate its prominent identity in the city of Moscow, sensitively opening the structure to the public, and to revive it as a place for businesses and social life, for meeting and interaction to thrive.

‘The building will be equipped for modern use through carefully considered interventions while undergoing sensitive restoration to preserve the design spirit of the original structure. Ultimately, it is our aim to create a building for Muscovites to feel proud of and enjoy as part of their city.’

The RIBA Stirling Prize-winning practice, whose restoration projects include the Neues Museum in Berlin, was chosen for the job following a global search led by KB Strelka.

When it opened in the 1920s, the Central Telegraph building occupied an entire urban quarter, accommodating about 5,000 employees. It featured large windows, pneumatic mail and a clock with a unique mechanism on its façade.

In 2014 Moscow studio Archiproba completed a light-touch conversion of the building’s top floor, turning it into an open plan office for a technology company.

Speaking about the appointment of David Chipperfield Architects, Marina Rudneva, co-founder of Vos’hod, said: ’Choosing an architect to work on a landmark building for the city is the first and most crucial step.

’We were looking for a professional who knows how to handle architectural monuments, carefully works with the existing substance of the city and at the same time understands the specifics of Moscow life and treats our historical heritage as reverently as we do. And we’ve found exactly that approach in the proposals of David Chipperfield Architects.’

The refurb will be led by project architect Richard Marks. A future timetable is not yet known.

Comment from the competition organiser

Varvara Melnikova, general director of the Strelka Institute, co-founder and partner of KB Strelka

The Central Telegraph is a unique project with incredible urban potential. On the one hand, there’s an aim to turn the old-fashioned office centre of the ’90s into a modern iconic space, creating a new point of attraction, and on the other, to carefully treat the historical heritage of the building. For this purpose, Strelka Design Bureau developed several scenarios and an integrated model of the proposed new programme for the building. Together with experts in the field of preservation of cultural heritage, we studied the initial drawings and the logic that the architect laid down during construction. All this has become part of a brief for the new architects.

Together with Vos’hod, we examined a large number of leading architectural firms and their approaches to working with the proposed model. As a result, the choice was made in favour of David Chipperfield Architects. The practice’s experience with heritage and their understanding of the values, opportunities and challenges of a building like the Central Telegraph turned out to be the most suitable for solving the tasks of the project.

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