Narkomfin Building/Commissariat of Finance Building

Aleksander Zelikov/TASS
This is, quite possibly, the best known Constructivist residential house. The building of the Commissariat of Finance (Narkomfin) was constructed as an experimental commune house. Architect Moisei Ginzburg was a great believer in communal living, and he had six such projects under his belt – four in Moscow, one in Yekaterinburg, and one in Saratov.

The house was built in 1930, using the latest in technology. The Narkomfin Building was built with solid cast reinforced concrete, and thanks to this it has been preserved through all these years without a single repair or reconstruction. New construction materials were also used, including something called kamyshit, bulrush-fiber boards. These were used for partitions, even in the bedrooms, which proved to be a big mistake. Bulrush-fiber boards have astonishing levels of sound transmission, and the residents soon began to detest it. The building stands on thick columns, because Sinichka River flows under it.

The building was designed in such a way that the Soviet citizens who lived in the commune were freed from the household chores. There was a dining hall and a laundry room, as well as a library and a rooftop terrace, where the tenants were supposed to sunbathe and engage in physical exercise. Part of the roof was given over to the two-storey penthouse of the Commissar of Finance Nikolay Milyutin.

Remarkably enough, the building's architect himself refused to live here, claiming to prefer traditional apartments. The French Constructivist architect Le Corbusier was enchanted with the Narkomfin Building when he visited it.