Architectural walks: Gagarinsky district — Italian motifs, science and fun modernism

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Let's go for a pleasant and informative walk together with Andrey Klyuev, a Moscow expert and the head of the City Excursion Bureau of the Museum of Moscow

October 28, 2022Architectural walks: Gagarinsky district — Italian motifs, science and boring modernism

With the onset of autumn in Moscow, the image of an ideal city walk changes greatly compared to the summer months. Now she needs a warm scarf and a cup of hot coffee to go. If you have been walking the iconic city streets for a long time, and the area around the house is familiar to the last shop, we advise you to pay attention to the Gagarinsky district. Andrey Klyuev, head of the City Tour Bureau of the Museum of Moscow, tells about its most interesting places and architecture.

Andrey KlyuevAndrey Klyuev

Moscow expert, head of the City Tour Bureau of the Museum of Moscow

mosmuseum.ru/

​​WHERE TO START

Go for coffee to the metro station “Universitet” & nbsp; – there are coffee shops for every taste nearby. And for the cultural heritage of the city, this station, which opened in 1959, is a special place: it is here that one of the main films of the thaw ends – “I'm walking around Moscow”.

Architectural walks: Gagarinsky district — Italian motifs, science and boring modernismUniversitet metro station, 1960s.Architectural walks: Gagarinsky district — Italian motifs, science and boring modernismUniversitet metro station, a shot from G. Daneliya's film “I'm walking around Moscow”.

RED HOUSES

Architectural Walks: Gagarinsky District - Italian motifs, science and boring modernism

After refreshing yourself with coffee and a croissant, go to the Red Houses (at 4 and 6 Stroiteley Street). This imposing quarter, built in 1952-1954 and actually made up of two U-shaped houses, is one of the final points of residential architecture of the Stalin era. Standard construction technologies were worked out here: stucco decor on the facades – molded concrete, and the red color of the walls – special facing tiles, which each next residential quarter had to have its own color. In the buildings, one can easily guess the work of the architectural workshop of Ivan Zholtovsky – Renaissance motifs and Italian architectural quotations in decorative elements and in the whole composition.

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DZHIGARKHANYAN THEATER

Architectural walks: Gagarinsky district - Italian motifs, science and boring modernism

Initially, the local theater was the Progress cinema. In 1957-1958, it was designed by a group of young architects who were trying to deal with the new architectural aesthetics of modernism, which developed after the decree “On the elimination of excesses in design and construction” of 1955.

At first glance, everything is simple: a one-screen cinema, a rectangular building with almost blank facades. But details are important here: a diamond-shaped pattern of bricks of different colors refers to the Doge's Palace in Venice, the solid glazing of the foyer was supposed to play the role of a magic lantern, enticing the audience to an evening movie show. And the miracles of rationalization still surprise today: the frames of the round windows at the top are nothing more than concrete rings for water and sewer wells. />Architectural walks: Gagarinsky district — Italian motifs, science and boring modernism

NATALIA SATs THEATER

Architectural Walks: Gagarinsky District - Italian motifs, science and boring modernism

We will bypass the circus building on Jawaharlal Nehru Square and see the creation of late Soviet modernism – the musical theater of Natalia Sats. The 1979 building was designed by architects Alexander Velikanov and Vladilen Krasilnikov as if on purpose to refute the thesis about the monotony and visual dullness of modernist architecture. There is something to see here – a complex composition and different-sized volumes, perspective portals torn off the ground above the entrances and numerous sculptural works (be sure to look at the “Running on the Waves” from all sides).

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PIONEER PALACE

Architectural walks: Gagarinsky District — Italian motifs, science and fun modernism

The Moscow Palace of Pioneers, opened on August 1, 1962, had an incredible symbolic meaning. At one of the meetings, the chief architect of Moscow in those years, Iosif Loveiko, said: “In this project, we will teach you to understand the new architecture.” Indeed, at first glance, a very strange palace – squat, concise and without any hint of the symmetry of the case. But there is a whole world around: a park with ponds and specially planted islands of various coniferous and deciduous trees and many other objects (if you wish, you can find, for example, a playground for playing towns). And the palace itself is a real hymn to the carelessness of childhood: an astronomical observatory, a schedule of circles and sections, a mosaic panel of smalt over the main entrance, depicting children from different countries around the same pioneer fire.

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AUCTU BUILDING 

Architectural walks: Gagarinsky district - Italian motifs, science and boring modernism

The building of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions – another original greeting from Italy. The building for the leadership of the Soviet trade union organizations was built on Leninsky Prospekt according to the project of Alexander Vlasov in 1936. By the way, at that time there was no building around, nor Leninsky Prospekt, nor Moscow State University – the building was built on the very border of Moscow near the Kaluga highway as part of the plan for the development of the capital to the southwest.

The shape of the broken line is read in this building when looking at a map or satellite image. But at ground level, it is noticeable that even before construction, the architect was on a business trip to the Apennine Peninsula. Renaissance and baroque are everywhere here – huge canopies over balconies, thin columns penetrating the building from the first to the last floor, a bold use of color and decorative details. Walking around the building on a weekday, you can stumble upon a passage to the dining room – a great way to warm up and eat for little money for the capital.

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INSTITUTE FOR ENERGY PROBLEMS OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS

Architectural Walks: Gagarinsky District - Italian motifs, science and boring modernism

In 1934, a decision was made to move the Academy of Sciences to Moscow. This gave the city an impressive scientific architecture, one of the brightest representatives of which is the Institute of Energy Problems of Chemical Physics. The second building, built in 1947-1949 to install one of the world's first particle accelerators, immediately catches the eye. Its round shape, dome and lucarne windows seem to be taken from the Renaissance baptistery (compare it, for example, with the Baptistery of St. John in Pisa). In the daytime, you can enter the territory and take an interesting walk in peace and tranquility. You can even walk through the territory to look at the main entrance to the laboratory building from the other side.

WALK FINAL

If by the end of the walk it has not become too late and cold, on Leninsky Prospekt you can look at a whole system of scientific institutes with porticos with columns and imposing parks around. Or you can walk to the Leninsky Prospekt metro station, which is already quite nearby, and go home.

If you want to start driving excursions yourself, sign up for the Moskvagid program of additional education and professional retraining.

p>Architectural Walks: Gagarinsky District - Italian Motifs, Science, and Fun Modernism

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