Our selection includes outstanding projects of Soviet architects that have remained on paper. They were designed to radically change the face of the capital, but for various reasons were never implemented
September 20, 2022
Palace of Labor, 1922-1923
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Revolution Square at the beginning of the 20th century.The project of the architect N. Trotsky, who received the first prize.
The competition for the design of the Palace of Labor was announced in 1922 and ended on February 5, 1923. 47 projects took part in it, the jury was headed by A.V. Shchusev. The building was designed to combine the functions of a museum, a hotel with 300 rooms, a House of Culture, a House of Soviets, a theater and a city party committee.
Among the mandatory requirements are a large hall for 8 thousand people and a small hall for 2.5 thousand people. It was planned to place observatories and radio stations in the towers of the Palace (if any), and on the roof to equip platforms for airplanes.
The Palace of Labor was to take pride of place in the heart of the capital —between Revolution Square and Teatralnaya, Okhotny near Tverskaya. But, like many utopias of the Soviet era, the project was not implemented. And in 1933, the construction of the Moskva Hotel began on this site. The idea of building the Palace of Labor was finally abandoned after the war.
Palace of Labor. The project of the Vesnin brothers received the third prize, but became the first example of constructivist architecture.Palace of Labor. Project by the Vesnin brothers, plan.
El Lissitzky's horizontal skyscrapers, 1926
The tower at the Nikitsky Gate stands on three pillars. One of them, according to the plan of El Lissitzky, goes underground, where it connects with the metro station (an elevator runs inside it), the other two – with tram stops.
El Lissitzky – architect, artist, designer, the largest figure of the Russian avant-garde. Like many avant-garde artists, he dreamed of the cities of the future, which were supposed to be built on the principles of communal houses. In 1926, he published in the journal Izvestia ASNOVA, of which he was the editor, his project of a horizontal skyscraper at the Nikitsky Gate. There were to be eight such skyscrapers in total, and all of them were supposed to stand at the eight main intersections of the Boulevard Ring (“gates”) above the roadway. .jpg” />“Izvestiya ASNOVA (Association of New Architects”), 1926.“Izvestiya ASNOVA (Association of New Architects”), 1926. src=”/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/f9958a8b6175f02d235355eabf073fd9.jpg” width=”728″ height=”723″ class=”lazy-image__image _align-center” data-v-64ca9b5a=”1″ alt=” Architectural utopias of Moscow: 7 unrealized projects of the USSR era” />
The skyscrapers of El Lissitzky look very relevant even for the 21st century: the frame is made of steel, the walls are made of glass – why not modern towers! The design does not interfere with the movement of pedestrians and vehicles: all the main premises are above the ground and, according to the architect, are intended for public institutions.
Lissitzky's project was too ahead of its time and remained on paper, but the idea of horizontal skyscrapers later found its embodiment in architecture. An example of such a building can be found in Tbilisi – this is the former Ministry of Road Construction, which now houses the office of the Bank of Georgia. The building of the former Ministry of Road Construction of Georgia, Tbilisi. Designed by architects Georgy Chakhava and Zurab Dzhalagonia.
The building of the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry on Red Square, 1932 — 1937
Ivan Fomin. The building of the People's Commissariat for Heavy Industry on Red Square. 1932–1934
Heavy industry was the main and most important branch of Soviet industry, and the People's Commissariat for Heavy Industry was the most influential of all people's commissars (it was headed by Sergo Ordzhonikidze). Therefore, it is not surprising that in the 1930s it was decided to build a separate building for it – the House of the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry – and not just anywhere, but right on Red Square (instead of GUM)! At the same time, a large-scale reconstruction of the entire area and its expansion towards Kitay-Gorod were planned.
Two competitions were held (1934 and 1936), in which the entire color of Soviet architecture of that time took part: the Vesnin brothers, Ivan Leonidov, Ivan Fomin, Alexei Shchusev, Boris Iofan, Konstantin Melnikov, Arkady Mordvinov – these are just a few names from long list of stars.
All projects assumed something grandiose —commensurate with the greatness of Soviet industry —but not a single idea was ever realized. After the approval of the new general plan of Moscow in 1935, a new place was chosen for the House of the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry – in Zaryadye, on the banks of the Moscow River. And in 1937, after the death of Ordzhonikidze, the project was completely frozen. /uploads/2022/09/be681ead0f52ca87513abb92d40a693a.jpg” width=”728″ height=”457″ class=”lazy-image__image _align-center” data-v-64ca9b5a=”1″ alt=”Moscow architectural utopias: 7 unrealized projects era of the USSR” />Ivan Fomin. The building of the People's Commissariat for Heavy Industry on Red Square. 1932–1934
STATE ACADEMIC CINEMA, 1936
/2022/09/8f236b6b6fb6f69d5ccb066f363b3bff.jpg” width=”728″ height=”471″ class=”lazy-image__image _align-center” data-v-64ca9b5a=”1″ alt=”Architectural utopias of Moscow: 7 unrealized projects of the USSR era “/>Project of the State Bolshoi Academic Cinema. Ensemble of Sverdlov Square. Architects D.N. Chechulin, K.K. Orlov, 1936. Main Archive of Moscow, Central State Archive of Moscow
The entrance to the Ploshchad Revolyutsii and Teatralnaya metro stations looks so unsightly for a reason (especially compared to other Soviet metro stations). In fact, in the 1930s, it was planned to be built into the grandiose building of the State Academic Theatre. Architects D.N. Chechulin and K.K. Orlov, in his project, proposed to combine different-style buildings on Theater Square – the Bolshoi and Maly Theaters, the Metropol and Moscow hotels – with the help of a single volume of a cinema that is not inferior in size to the Bolshoi Theater. It was assumed that the auditorium of the cinema will be designed for at least four thousand people! Such a scale would eloquently hint to passers-by that cinema is the most important of the arts in the Soviet state.State Academic Cinema. Architects. D.N. Chechulin, K.K. Orlov, 1936 State Research Museum of Architecture named after A.V. Shchusev.
The Palace of Soviets, 1930s
The Palace of Soviets is the most famous and largest unrealized project of the country of the Soviets. The plans for its construction were cherished by the young Soviet state back in the 1920s (for the first time they were announced at the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets in 1922 by Kirov). At the same time, in the 1920s, a place was proposed for the future symbol of the USSR – on the banks of the Moscow River instead of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior (which was blown up in 1931, preparing a site for construction).
Demolition of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, 1931
The best architects of the country fought for the right to build the main monument of the country of the Soviets – and not only: such stars of world architecture participated in the All-Union competition of 1931, like Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius (Walter Gropius).
As a result, the project of Iofan, Shchuko and Gelfreich won – a stepped 415-meter tower, which was crowned by a giant 100-meter statue of Lenin. The building of the Palace of the Soviets was supposed to be the tallest in the world & nbsp; – above the Eiffel Tower & nbsp; (325 m) and the highest at that time American skyscraper Empire State Building (381 m) & nbsp; – and occupy an area of 11 hectares. The planned decoration of the palace is amazing – 650 busts, 19 sculptural groups, 72 monumental sculptures, artistic painting, portraits of prominent party figures. />“Parade near the Palace of Soviets”. Alexander Kotyagin. Oil on canvas.
By the end of the 1930s, the foundation of the building was laid. For the Palace of Soviets, a special steel grade was developed – the most durable of all that existed at that time in the Soviet Union. The Great Patriotic War prevented further work. Metal structures went to the manufacture of anti-tank hedgehogs for the defense of Moscow and railway bridges. The frame was dismantled, but the idea of building a monumental Palace of the Soviets occupied the minds of Soviet architects for a long time.The image of the Palace of Soviets on the “Plan of the City of Moscow”, compiled and published in 1940 by the Geodetic Office of the Moscow Planning Department. h2>
In the mid-1950s, when the post-war devastation was more or less eliminated, the USSR government again returned to the idea of the Palace of Soviets. Since the policy of the party changed after Stalin's death, the fight against architectural excesses was in vogue, the project of Boris Iofan became irrelevant, and new competitions (open and closed) were announced in 1956.
The proposed place construction  ; – the second Palace of Soviets “moved” to the south-west of the capital, to the Moscow State University area. It was supposed to be much smaller in size (36 thousand square meters).
Although many original projects were sent to the competition (among the participants were, for example, Konstantin Melnikov and Alexander Vlasov), none of which has yet been approved. The idea of building the Palace of Soviets was never put into practice, and on the foundation of the first building in 1958-1960 the Moskva pool was built – the world's largest outdoor winter pool.
The Palace of Soviets on the Lenin Hills, designed by the architect Alexander Vlasov in the mid-1950s, embodied the main ideas of the thaw – lightness, simplicity and openness. It was a rectangular volume only 30 meters high, under the roof of which there were three halls. The walls and ceiling of the building were supposed to be made of glass, thus turning the whole space into a giant atrium.
The Pantheon – “a monument” of the eternal glory of the great people of the Soviet country” – was planned to be erected on Red Square instead of the Lenin Mausoleum. A resolution on it was adopted the day after Stalin's death on March 6, 1953. Upon completion of construction, it was planned to transfer the sarcophagus with the bodies of V. I. Lenin and I. V. Stalin, as well as the remains of prominent figures of the Communist Party and the Soviet state, buried near the Kremlin wall, and open the Pantheon to the general public.
Layout of the Pantheon. Photo taken in 1953.
The project, proposed by the architect Nikolai Kolli, involved a large-scale building with an area of more than 500 thousand square meters. m. If the architecture of the Lenin Mausoleum referred to the ancient ziggurats – the pyramids of the Sumerians – then the Pantheon was intended to resemble an ancient Greek temple. From the inside, the building was to be decorated with sculptures, bas-reliefs, monumental painting, mosaics and other decorative elements dedicated to prominent statesmen of the USSR.
One of the main problems was to choose a place for such a monumental tomb of the leaders. Initially, it was assumed that the Pantheon would be built on the site of GUM, but it was abandoned. Sofiyskaya Embankment, the Historical Museum, Manezhnaya Square, Leninskiye Gory and Luzhniki were also considered as alternatives. As a result, the Colli version was approved, which involves a large-scale reconstruction of Red Square and the elimination of numerous historic houses in the center of the capital. Fortunately, it was never implemented. The project was frozen in the wake of Khrushchev's struggle with the cult of personality and architectural excesses.Construction of Lenin's Mausoleum.