House on the Embankment

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House on Embankment
Дом на Набережной
DNN Iofan.jpg
General information
Type Residential
Architectural style Constructivism
Address 2, Serafimovicha Street
Town or city Moscow
Country Russia
Construction started 1928
Completed 1931
Client Soviet government
Height ~50 m
Technical details
Floor count 12
Design and construction
Architect Boris Iofan

The House on the Embankment (Russian: Дом на набережной) is a block-wide apartment building on the banks of the Moskva on Balchug in downtown Moscow, Russia.[1] It faces Bersenevskaya Embankment on one side and Serafimovicha Street on the other side.


The relocation of the capital from St. Petersburg to Moscow meant there was an increased need to house civil servants in Moscow. In 1927, a commission decided that a building would be constructed in the Bersenevka neighborhood, opposite the Kremlin, which until then was occupied by the Wine and Salt Court, an old distillery and excise warehouse. During the czarist era the area had been mainly utilized for a mushroom market.

The new apartment block was completed in 1931 as the Government Building; a residence for the Soviet elite. Previously they lived mostly in the Kremlin itself or in various luxury hotels around Moscow such as the National, the Metropol and the Loskutnaya. It was designed by Boris Iofan who lived in the building from 1931 to 1976. (He also designed the Palace of the Soviets, which was never built.) The building is considered to be contructivist in style. The apartments were luxurious for their time: telephones, central heating and high ceilings were standard. At the time, most Muskovites had to make do with communal apartments. The building also featured a sports hall, tennis court, kindergarten, library, laundrette and a kitchen from which meals could be ordered for collection. Many residents and their families were detained during Stalin's terror in the late 1930s, such that the building was dryly referred to as "The House of Preliminary Detention." (A play on the Russian initialism Допр, from the building's original name: Дом прави́тельства.) Fully one third of residents disappeared during the terror.[2] Prof. Yuri Slezkine published in 2017 The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution (Princeton University Press) which records the fates of about eighty tenants and their families.[3] He notes that some of the apartments in the Government Building held up to five successive sets of occupants between 1937 and 1940, as senior officials were arrested for execution or imprisonment.[4]

Present day[edit]

The building has 505 apartments (some used as offices), a theater, a movie theater, restaurants, and retail stores and a Sedmoi Kontinent supermarket, not dissimilar to the situation when it was originally built. Although other areas of the city have much more luxurious apartments, the apartments in the House on the Embankment are still sought after and very expensive because of their location and prestige associated with the building. A small museum was opened in 1989 on the first floor of the building, containing exhibits about its history, as well as more general social history of the 1930s and 1940s.[5][6] There are 25 memorial plaques on the facade of the building. From 2001 to 2011 an 8-metre high Mercedes Benz logo was placed on the roof (as advertising).

In popular culture[edit]

  • The name "House on the Embankment" became commonly used following the publication of a novella of that name by a former resident: Yuri Trifonov. It was written in 1975 and published in 1976.
  • The first and last scenes in the film Burnt by the Sun are set in the building.
  • The building has been entered in the city's cultural heritage register.

Notable past residents[edit]

Memorial plates[edit]


  • Slezkine, Yuri (2017). The House of Government. Princeton. 


  1. ^ ROMENDIK, DMITRIY (April 16, 2014). "Apparatchik Apartments: Behind the facades of the House on the Embankment". Retrieved 14 November 2016. 
  2. ^ "'House on Embankment' a Study in Russian History". NPR. June 12, 2005. Retrieved 14 November 2016. 
  3. ^ Reviewed by Rachel Polonsky as "a monumental edifice of scholarship and historical insight."
  4. ^ Pages 10-11 Literary Review, August 2017
  5. ^ "Museum "The House on the Embankment"". Retrieved 14 November 2016. 
  6. ^ "Moscow’s House on the Embankment". January 11, 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2016. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°44′41″N 37°36′43″E / 55.74472°N 37.61194°E / 55.74472; 37.61194