Saturday, March 04, 2006

Москва невоплощенная/Unrealised Moscow

Москва невоплощенная / Unrealized Moscow
I stumbled upon the Moscow State Museum of Architecture website last night. Very cool, in both English (for dummies
like me) and Russian (for true believers). The virtual display that I found most interesting was Unrealized Moscow - The Architecture of Moscow from the 1930s to the early 1950s. Projects, buildings, city planning, and architectural dreams that never came true.

One thing you can say for those old Soviets - they sure didn't think small.
Moscow architecture from the 1930s to the early 1950s undoubtedly occupies a central place in domestic construction of the socialist epoch. Its specific nature and scope is the most outstanding illustration of the socialist Utopia in architecture. This period saw the work of the greatest Soviet architects; B. Icfan, A. Schusev, I. Zholtovsky, the Vesnin brothers, I. Fomin, L. Rudnev, I. Golosov, V. Schuko. Among the far-reaching projections of the first stalinist "five year plans", the 1935 General plan for the reconstruction of Moscow overshadowed all others. According to this plan, Moscow was to become, in the shortest possible time, the showpiece capital of the world's first socialist state. The General plan envisaged the development of the city as a unified system of highways, squares and embankments with unique buildings, embodying the ideas and achievements of socialism.
Yep, if they had their way back in 1934 - there would be no GUM today. Instead there would have been the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry Building. 110,000 cubic meters of Soviet might constructed on 4 hectares adjacent to Red Square. Several other architectural entries for this building are also displayed on the website.

Or how about the Palace of Soviets? It was to be constructed at the site of the demolished Church of Christ the Saviour (which if I remember correctly, was made into a swimming pool and then recently reconstructed). The Palace of Soviets would have been a symbol of the "imminent triumph of communism". Selling big ideas on a big scale - even if you can't afford it. Such was Soviet bravado ...

Of the proposed Aeroflot building in 1934
In 1934, the attention of the whole world was focused on the fate of the crewmen of the ice-breaker "Chelyuskin", who were adrift on an ice-floe after the ship went down in the Sea of Chukotsk. Moscow greeted the courageous survivors and the pilots who had rescued them, and who were the first to be granted the "Hero of the Soviet Union" award. The new traditions of socialist life demanded the perpetuation of the memory of this outstanding feat in monumental form. The "Aeroflot" building ... was planned ... as a monument to the glory of Soviet aviation. Hence the sharp-silhouette, "aerodynamic" form of the tall building and the sculpted figures of the heroic airmen A.Lyapidevsky, S.Levanevsky, V.Mоlоkоv, N.Kamanin, M.Slepnev, M.Vodopyanov, I.Doronin, crowning seven openwork arches, perpendicular to the main facade and comprising a distinctive portal.

No comments: