Palace of Soviets
The project for the construction of the Palace of Soviets was a kind of starting point for a new development of Soviet architecture. The idea of building appeared in 1922 at the First Congress of the Councils of the USSR. Sergey Mironovich Kirov proposed to build a building that would be “an emblem of the coming power of the triumph of communism, not only here, but also there, in the West” In connection with this decree, already in 1924, an idea appeared to create on the site of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior a monument to Lenin, who would become the “center of the new Moscow”.
One of the leaders of the creative innovative architectural association ASNOVA prepared an article in Pravda, emphasizing that "the demolition of the temple in the Okhotny series ... is foreseen" At that time, the proposal seemed too radical, and V. Balikhin was even refused to publish his idea. The editor of Pravda, I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov, returned the article with the postscript: “I’m afraid we will deserve to be ridiculous if we print such declamations with plans for the demolition of entire quarters ... and such masses as the temple of Christ. To demolish, perhaps, we will stretch a strong man ... "
The project was launched on July 8, 1931, when the program of the All-Union open competition for the Palace of Soviets was announced. It outlined the main requirement: the building should become outstanding “both in its architectural design and in its artistic place in the general architectural form of Moscow”. The construction site was also indicated: “For construction, a plot has been planned on the embankment of the Moskva River between the Soimon lane and the Volkhonka Pool with the expansion of the area by demolition of the Church of Christ the Savior..."
In November 1931, the magazine “Construction of Moscow” published excerpts of speeches by workers of the Stalin plant. All agreed that "Soviet architecture will begin with the Palace of the Soviets." “When they want to say about Paris, it’s enough to name the Eiffel Tower. If they depict America, New York, then they put up a monument to Freedom ... We need to put up something remarkable and distinctive among all buildings in Moscow, so that when we look at this building, they say it is the capital of the USSR”.
In July 1933, an architectural discussion began, during which constructivism was declared temporary, partly useful, but partly erroneous and already overcome. (Frequently, the inability of constructivism to master a large form was reproached.) A new tendency in the work of architects was planned: the desire to synthesize the styles of past epochs, but without “stylization” and “mechanical copying” 2. The best examples of world heritage - the art of the Renaissance, ancient Rome and ancient Greece were recommended for use. No flow definitions have been given. Thus, the “Stalin’s Empire” (from the French .Erte - “Empire” and by analogy with the Empire) was formed not as a prepared program, but as a result of creative searches of architects within the framework of the general concept of the Great Style.
In 1934, the authors' team - Iofan, S.V.Shchuko and Gelfreykh - created a draft design of the Palace of Soviets, which represented a complex multi-stage composition with a height of 415 meters with a total volume of 7,500 thousand m3. The center of the building was the Great Hall with a diameter of 140 and a height of 97 meters, designed for 20,000 people. In the west wing, the Small Hall for 6000 people adjoined the main building.
The building was crowned with a statue of Lenin from high-grade stainless steel 75 meters high. In the documents of that time, the superiority of the size and height of the Palace of Soviets over other architectural structures of the world was especially often noted. In the brochures dedicated to its construction, visual drawings were placed where the statue of Lenin stands above the statue of the worker and collective farmer at the Soviet Pavilion of the Paris Exhibition (24.3 meters) and above the Statue of Liberty in New York (46 meters).
In 1939, the design was basically completed. The Palace of Soviets was obliged by its monumentality to the idea that it was supposed to embody. The construction was conceived as a temple of the new religion. The planned construction on the site of the destroyed Tonov Cathedral of Christ the Savior posed a daunting task before the Palace of Soviets: to become a monument to the greatness of the communist idea.
Due to the concept characteristic of Russian architecture - layering, expressive plasticity of volumes, height, - the structure did not suppress the grandeur of absolute dimensions, but became a powerful vertical, compositionally uniting the whole city. In terms of urban planning, the architectural influence zone of the Palace of Soviets was supported by the construction of a number of high-rise buildings that created the new silhouette of the capital and further affected the scale of its entire development.
The war prevented the implementation of the Palace of Soviets, but its role in the history of Soviet architecture can not be overestimated. The new aesthetic norms, the emotional impact that this work could have, can be partly judged by other works of the architect, embodied in kind during the period of intensive design and construction of the Palace of Soviets.
Before the war, they managed to build a foundation for the high-rise part of the Palace and began to assemble the steel frame of the building. After June 22, 1941, concrete, granite, steel, reinforcement were required for completely different purposes. After the war, other skyscrapers, more modest in size, rose over Moscow. The foundation of the Palace was used in the construction of the world's largest heated swimming pool. The construction started in 1958 and in 1960 the swimming pool welcomed its first visitors. That was the largest swimming pool in the USSR and one of the biggest pools in the world that time. The sports construction acquired sympathies of the city citizens who often visited the place to have a rest and go in for sports. The swimming pool was opened the entire year and even in winter. The swimming pool realized quite a new conception of rest near water as only a small segment of it was occupied by swim lanes and the rest space could be used just like swimmers wanted.
Today it is just a history as the construction was demolished. And in the nineties on the same foundation restored the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, demolished in December 1931.
In the mid-1950s, the country's leadership returned to the idea of building the Palace of Soviets. However, the architectural policy of the Soviet state changed significantly after the death of Joseph Stalin. The campaign against architectural excesses initiated by Nikita Khrushchev made the implementation of the old project of Iofan impossible. His work was criticized and accused of “senseless giantomania”, “fantastic oblivion of real life scales and needs”, “super-monumentality of forms”.
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