The Avant-garde around the Tower

Moscow, Central Federal District, Russia
Est. 6.6km / 1 hr

The Avant-garde around the Tower - Cya On The Road

In the 1920-1930s, the vegetable gardens, almshouses, and wooden barracks of the Shabolovka district metamorphosed into a model constructivist neighborhood. Moscow residents boasting with pride would bring foreign visitors here to show them the 'New Moscow'. As these buildings are so well preserved today, this neighborhood could easily be called an Avant-Garde Conservation Park. This is a vivid representation of an early soviet architectural and urban life utopia. The very first structure was the Shukhov tower, a radio station for the Comintern built in 1919-1922. This building would become the first significant symbol of Soviet power. Vladimir Shukhov’s engineering work was supposed to be higher than the Eiffel Tower (over 300 m) and broadcast the new state’s messages around the world. Even though the economic situation stood in the way of breaking the world record, the tower remained the highest building and the most powerful radio station in Europe up until the 1960s. The tower became an important reference point in the Shabolovka area (as well as for all of Moscow): experimental buildings and entire working class districts began to emerge in its vicinity. The first communal house in the country was built right at the axis of the tower – the building of the “First Zamoskovoretskiy Association" (1926-1927) co-operative. The 800 future communard-residents had to get rid of their old furniture, icons, and utensils (household things), and move into this building ready for a new communal life. Across the street one finds an avant-garde experimental urban planning building – the Khavsko-Shabolovsky housing estate (1929-1931), developed by a team of ASNOVA architects (Association of New Architects). Architects N. Travin and B. Blokhin created a dynamic composition, putting equilateral L-shaped buildings at an angle to the street. As a result, the corners of the buildings faced the Shukhov Tower, while the alleys between the buildings were oriented towards the towers of the Donskoy Monastery. A little further – probably the most famous communal house in Russia – the Textile Institute dormitory (1929-1930); a conveyor system preparing 2,000 people for the national socialist life. You woke up in a dormitory room, a 6 square meter cubicle. You washed yourself at a "sanitary airlock". Then, you went to the gym, a jog on the rooftop’s solarium. Breakfast in the dining hall. Classes in the educational block – the values of proper upbringing were not forgotten either. The design of the building, conceived by Ivan Nikolaev, was exactly like the life in it – simple, yet significant. Ribbon windows, columns, flat narrow halls, as if you were on board an airplane. Situated not far from the tower were other important constructivist buildings: an asymmetrical giant school with an observatory, a theater hall, and workshops (1929-1935) and the school of the American Bureau "Long Acre” (1930-1931). Also built nearby in the surrounding area, one could find the elegant Mostorg department store (1929-1934), 4 different housing estates, Donskiye Baths (demolished in 2013), the first crematorium with a columbarium in Moscow, and an experimental maternity clinic belonging to Academy of Sciences. All together, this neighborhood provided everything one could need from birth till death in the grand new Soviet life. And this leads us to why this area ought to be preserved – it could serve as a museum of Soviet architecture and daily life in the era of the avant-garde. Alexandra Selivanova Architectural historian, director of the Avant-garde Centre in the library "Educating workers", a member of the initiative group "Shabolovka"(The tour is based on the informational guidebook with the same title, which was published by gallery "At Shabolovka" and initiative group "Shabolovka" in May 2014. The guidebook includes 24 buildings.)

by Центр авангарда на Шаболовке
Архитектура • ИЗО • Литература • История • Наука • Градостроительство • Философия • Театр • Кино

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