The Moscow that was never built

The building of the People's Соmmissariat of Heavy Industry, A. Vesnin, V, Vesnin, S. Lyaschenko. 1934

A competition for the design of a building to house the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry (Narkomtyazhprom) on Red Square was announced in 1934. The construction of this grandiose complex of 110,000 m3 on an area of 4 hectares would have resulted in a radical reconstruction of Red Square and adjacent streets and squares of Kitai-Gorod. Twelve entries were submitted for the first stage of the competition. The impressive plans drawn up by the brothers A. and V. Vesnin-leaders of the constructivist movement-were not noted by the jury, along with a number of other entries, although the submissions included some of the most interesting architectural ideas and projections of this century. The building of the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry was never realised.

Palace of Soviets. B. Iofan, O. Gelfreikh, V. Schuko. Sculptor S. Merkulov. Version of the approved project. 1934

The competition for the Palace of Soviets in Moscow was one of the most extensive and impressive of this century. The idea of constructing a building which could be a symbol of the "imminent triumph of communism" in the capital of the world's first state of workers and peasants was mooted in the 1920s. The chosen location was the site of the demolished Church of Christ the Saviour. The competition was launched in 1931 and carried out in stages. Overall, 160 entries were submitted, including 12 commissioned ones and 24 which were fiors concours, as well as 112 project proposals. Twenty four proposals were received from foreign participants, among whom were such universally acclaimed architects as Le Corbusier, W.Gropius and E.Mendelssohn. The definitive turn of Soviet architecture toward the heritage of the past had emerged clearly by that time, and was the key factor in the choice of winners. The top awards went to architects I.Zholtovsky, B.lofan, G.Hamilton (USA), additions and revisions, was finally affirmed.

Building of the People's Commissariat of Нeavy Industry. I. Fomin, P. Abrosimov, M. Minkus. 1934

I.Fomin was a leading representative of the St. Petersburg neo-classical Russian school of architecture, and had attained prominence before the revolution. Even in the 1920s, a period dominated by constructivism, Fomin managed to remain faithful to the principles of classical architecture and even devised a so-called "proletarian-order" expressed thus: "the two basic verticals of the main facade create an aperture which provides a clear view of the mausoleum. Along Sverdlov Square, the construction finishes with a butt-end. We have selected the silhouette technique as the solution. The butt-end will be divided by a very ornate arch to blend with the character of the Square's old architecture. The building is planned as a closed circle. As the construction is a closed one, we did not wish to go above 12-13 floors, with only the tower reaching a height of 24 floors". Extract from annotations to the project.

The Aeroflot Building. D. Chechulin. 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. In the summer of the same year 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, which was to be erected on the square beside the Byelorussky railway station, was planned by architect D. Chechulin 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. I. Shadr, the sculptor of the airmen's figures, took part in the project's design. The project was never realised in its original design or intention. Almost half a century later, the general ideas of the project were incorporated into the complex housing the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR on thе Кrasnоргеsnenskауа Еmbankment (nоwadауs — Соvernment Ноuse).

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