LOS ANGELES — Getty Foundation has chosen Armenian Writer’s Union Sevan guesthouse as a heritage of Soviet modernism and will support the scientific analysis of the building providing $130,000.
“A Getty grant will support the methodical and scientific analysis of the Sevan resort, and the resulting conservation management plan will set a precedent for valuing modernist heritage not only in Armenia, but also in other post-Soviet and post-socialist countries,” Getty Foundation has stated in a press release.
Between 1932 and 1965 during Soviet rule, a picturesque retreat for the Writers’ Union of Armenia was built on the sprawling shore of Lake Sevan outside the nearby capital of Yerevan. The two buildings that form the Sevan Writers’ Resort — the guest house (1932-1935) and the lounge (1963-1965) –were designed with strikingly divergent aesthetics, but share the same architect. The markedly different stylistic choices are the result of Armenia’s close, but often fraught relationship with the Soviet Union.
The guest house, designed by Gevorg Kochar (1901–1973) and Mikael Mazmanyan (1899–1971), is a model of early Soviet avant-garde ideals, utilizing abstract forms to represent social utopianism and creating a functional, progressive and egalitarian space that exemplified the ideals of the revolution. Two years after the completion of the guesthouse, the architects fell victim to the Stalinist regime; they were arrested and exiled to Siberia for 15 years. Rehabilitated after Stalin’s death, Kochar was commissioned to add the lounge and reconstruct the guesthouse in 1963.
Emulating the international style, the new building complemented the guest house and harmonized the ensemble with the natural landscape, incorporating the view of medieval monastic churches located at the end of the peninsula. To this day, the site continues to be used by Armenian authors for rest and contemplation.
The restoration project will last three to four years, but the funding will cover only the first stage of the development of scientific research and conservation plan.