A post-Constructivist monster

This is a low-resolution view of Moscow from the Yauzsky boulevard, less than half a mile from the building I discussed in these two posts. I’m partial to this shot because it reveals (I hope) so much about the city – not everything you need to know but a fair share of that. The sepia-like tinge is evidence of the camera’s imperfections rather than post-processing but it’s a lucky coincidence.

What’s the pink building on the left, behind the traffic light?

It’s a spectacular failure, literally, by an outstanding architect, Ilya Golosov. Some call it an iconic building, and in some sense it is one, but if you ask me… boy is it ugly!

The Britannica article calls it an example of a “Postconstructivist modernization of architectural Classicism.” I guess you can say that but I’m thinking of the Russian expression, “a cross between a hedgehog and a snake.”

It’s probably worth remembering that Russian Constructivism was not a provincial oddity but part of a global movement, and its masters were on the same page – professionally – as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and the Bauhaus architects. In the 1930s, the Soviets started to drift away into their own architectural universe, as did the Nazis, although it would unfair to say that Soviet architecture was insulated from international influences from that time onward. Rather, it became eclectic in all sort of manner, culminating in Stalinist towers and similar grand designs.

The “transitional” Soviet architecture of the 1930s, sometimes known as Postconstructivism, is a mixed bag. You’re guaranteed to find monsters in it like Golosov’s Yauza house. Look at the pictures here (but ignore the text if you can) and check the link to the Ivanovskaya Hill weblog. Is it any good really?

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