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Modernist Architectural Masterpiece - Rossia Cinema in Yerevan

Rossia Cinema commissioned in Yerevan in 1974, is considered one of the most remarkable Soviet-era modernist structures in the city. The architects, Artur Tarkhanyan, Spartak Khachikyan, and Hrachya Poghosyan, were awarded the prize of the Council of Ministers of the USSR for this project in 1979. The cinema was privatized in 2004, and in 2006, part of the structure was transformed into the trade and cultural center "Rossia," which currently functions primarily as a commercial space.

The project for the cinema, designed by Arthur Tarkhanyan, Spartak Khachikyan, and Hrachya Poghosyan, was submitted to the Union of Architects in 1970-1971 and subsequently approved by the City Council of Yerevan. The "Haypet Project" Institute was tasked with implementing the project.

 

Construction began in the early 1970s on the site of one of Yerevan's oldest markets, the "Black Market." The project was challenging due to its modernist and unconventional design, prompting the architects to prepare a large model to facilitate the builders' work.

 

A scale model of the Rossia Cinema. Image source: "Arthur Tarkhanyan Center" Facebook page

 

The Rossia Cinema officially opened in December 1974 during a plenary session of the CPC Central Committee, chaired by Karen Demirchyan, the first secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC.

The cinema was a multifunctional complex consisting of three main parts. two halls of different sizes, but with the same shape, with 1,600 and 1,000 seats, an open area under the halls where exhibition halls, a cafe, a bar, and ticket offices are located. You could also pass through this area on the street without entering the cinema. This connection between outside and inside is considered one of the building's ingenious solutions.

 



Sculptures by Hmayak Bdeyan, in the form of masks, adorned the partition wall


The lobby and bar were separated by a transparent partition that could be opened and closed, measuring 10 meters wide and 3.5 meters high. Sculptures by Hmayak Bdeyan, in the form of masks, adorned the partition wall, while other halls featured sculptures by Yervand Gojabashyan, Henry Elibekyan, Ohan Petrosyan, and others.

 

The cinema's modern circular bar and the teahouse, furnished in a Russian style with kettles on the tables and freshly made cakes, were noteworthy features. The suspended ceiling of the "Rossia" cinema, called "вантовое перекрытие (cable-stayed ceiling)” was the first of its kind in Armenia. The cinema's roof, facing Tigran Mets Street, spans 40 meters wide and 60 meters long, hanging without any support.

 

Arthur Tarkhanyan and other architects standing near the scale model of the Rossia Cinema. Image source: "Arthur Tarkhanyan Center" Facebook page

 

Initially intended to be named "Ayrarat" or "Noyan Tapan," the cinema was ultimately named "Rossia." After Armenia's independence, it was briefly renamed "Ayrarat." In 2004, the "Rossia" cinema was privatized, and the "Narek" company, part of the "Sil Concern," became the owner. In 2006, the center was once again renamed "Rossia."

 

On November 11, 2006, the first building of the "Rossia" commercial and cultural center was turned into a cafe and shopping halls. Unfortunately, the sculptures and paintings by Yervand Gojabashyan, Henry Elibekyan, Ohan Petrosyan, and Hmayak Bdeyan were later removed and up to this day their fate is unknown.

 


Rossia Cinema today


However even today, the Rossia Cinema stands as a testament to the innovative spirit of its architects and the modernist architectural movement in Yerevan. Despite changes and challenges over the years, it remains a significant cultural and architectural landmark in Armenia's capital.

Галерея​

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