Ivan Nikolaev’s student housing-commune in Moscow, 1929-1930

Socialism in one building

Image: Ivan Nikolaev’s constructivist dormitory
for the Textile Institute in Moscow (1929-1930)

The following is taken from Martin Gittins’ outstanding Kosmograd site.

I absolutely love this painting by Mikhail Nemtsov of The Communal House of the Textile Institute in Moscow:

Mikhail Nemtsov, painting of Ivan Nikolaev's dormitory in Moscow

Designed by Ivan Sergeevich Nikolaev and completed in 1931, it is one of the seminal buildings of the Constructivist era, and is often referred to simply at Nikolaev’s House. It embodies the radical approach to communal living and education that gained popularity in the post-revolutionary fervent, when all social institutions became open to reexamination. The painting by Nemtsov doesn’t just represent the building but also tries to capture the multitude of social relations that would have taken place in the building.

Since 1968, when it was last repaired, the building has fallen into disrepair, and although Nemtsov likes the fact that it still supports a variety of uses, a renovation is planned.


Ivan Nikolaev's Housing-commune for students of the Moscow Textile Institute, 1929-1930b kommuna Dom-kommuna Ivan Nikolaev's Housing-commune for students of the Moscow Textile Institute, 1929-1930a f93e82b11d3d5f773344d1d9a23422d5 interior lobby 1930


10 thoughts on “Ivan Nikolaev’s student housing-commune in Moscow, 1929-1930

  1. Pingback: Ivan Nikolaev’s student housing-commune in Moscow, 1929-1930 | Research Material

  2. really an impressive building, with a very important idea behind!
    do you have any floor plan from this building?
    and, also, what can you say about the refurbishment works? (i mean, still has the spirit of the building in its use, or it has changed dramatically?
    thanks for the info!

    • Actually, respect to what reported by Ross, I have to add that the building has been since 2008 under total reconstruction. My last visit was at end 2010, so I don’t know if it has been completed, but architecture historians in Moscow were quite critical about the almost total demolition and reconstruction of the building without preserving main the technical features of the original building.

      Aside from the elegant design which show the undisputed talent of the young Nikolaev, the building in itself in my opinion was a quite inhuman educational machine, forcing 5000 students to be ruled in their everyday life as products of a chain work. After spending the day in the working common areas, the bell rang sending them in line through an hygienic transition area where to get undressed and shower, then they were sent in the sleeping section where they took place in small sleeping cells for two students. More of a prison than a commune as we could think of today…

      • …and by the way, Le Corbusier itself visited the building and was strongly critical about it, defining it “one of the saddest buildings ever realised”, a comment which was later erroneously referred to Ginzburg’s Dom Narkomfina…

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