The studio’s office in Kiev is located in a pre-revolutionary house No. 26/26 at the corner of Saksaganskogo and Antonovicha Streets. The noble apartment building in the late Art Nouveau style was built in 1911 by the merchant of the first guild L. I. Kenin (the architect is unknown) and today is protected by the state as an architectural monument of local importance. We love Kiev, its atmosphere and beauty, which is why we decided to design and manufacture a historically authentic door for our entrance.
Originally, houses like this one used to have massive tall doors made of precious wood. Their design was in keeping with the architectural style of the building and the generous glazing allowed daylight into vestibules and front rooms. Most of the original doors from the early 20th century have now been lost and until recently the entrance to house No. 26 had a short metal extravagantly decorated door that had nothing in common with the aesthetics of the house. The only thing reminding about the former elegance was the glass fanlight over a clumsy iron awning.
First, we went through the city archives where we found a 1995 project by Kievproektkunstruktsia that was as close to the original as possible and was successfully approved by all municipal authorities, but for some reason never implemented. We decided to use it as a starting point. It turned out that both the entrance vestibule and the original fanlight are also in a deplorable condition, meaning that to achieve the perfection we’re after we had to restore the entire entrance group.
Making sketches, we were looking at the glass layout of the original window and similar doors from the other façade of the building, information about which we were able to find in archive documents. The primary material of the door is choice oak that was dried for almost twenty years in the vault of one of the monasteries in Khmelnytskyi Region. All parts were made in the city of Polonne and delivered to Kiev in batches as the total height of the door and the window is about 5 meters (16′) and each door leaf weighs about 100 kg (220 lbs). The finished structure was assembled by specialists on site for over a month.
The door leaves have an internal adjustment system in case of wood swelling or drying out. Thanks to it, the heavy doors will never get skewed or jammed. The transparent inserts are made of armored glass for safety and security reasons (which are of primary concern for the majority of residents).
We spent a long time choosing doorhandles, looking at the doors of another famous modernist building in Kiev, Suzirya Theater, which has bracket handles, but were not able to locate the right handles anywhere in Ukraine or Russia. Looking at the doors of houses of the same period in Riga, Budapest, Vienna, Spain and Italy, we finally settled on round and heavy handles made of aged brass and produced in Italy.
In addition, one of the walls of the vestibule had the original relief plant ornament that was severely damaged. It was carefully restored and copied on both sides of the entrance on two levels.
In the end, the old aristocratic house acquired an appropriate entrance: strict, stylistically accurate and matching the historic façade. In the morning when the residents leave to go about their business, the sun shines through the glass inserts into the tall entrance hall from which you can now see Antonovicha Street. In the evenings, potted flowers can be seen in the entrance hall and the warm light falls on the sidewalk, giving the surrounding cityscape a soft and unique cosiness.
We’ll get to the entrance steps soon.