Stalinist Architecture- Dual Towers

24 Nov

Dual towers
Dual towers (a prominent Stalinist motif), flanking major city squares, can be found from Berlin to Siberia:

Moscow, Gagarin square; note different finishes

Minsk, Railway Terminal square

Berlin, Frankfurter Tor

Kharkiv, Railway Station

Red Square in Kursk

Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre in 1945

The city duma building with the Lenin statue in Yekaterinburg.

Samara opera house

Independence Avenue in Minsk (1944-1959)

Independence avenue in Minsk

The urban architectural ensemble of Nezalezhnastci Avenue in Minsk is an example of the integrated approach in organizing a city’s environment by harmoniously combining its architectural monuments, the planning structure, the landscape and the natural or man-made spots of vegetation. The Ensemble was constructed during fifteen years after World War II. Its length is 2900 metres. The width of the road including side-walks varies from 42 to 48 meters.

The work on the general lay-out of the former Sovietskaya Street began in 1944, immediately after the liberation of Minsk from the Nazi troops. The leading architects from Moscow and Minsk were involved in the project. In 1947, as a result of the competition, the project which had been developed under supervision of the academician of architecture M. Parusnikov, was selected for the implementation.

The project plan of the Nezalezhnastci Avenue ensemble has succeeded in escaping monotony. The lay-out provided for the main features of the town-planning ensemble – the length of the buildings facades, their silhouettes, the main divisions, and the general architectural pattern. The integrated building plan was based on the accommodation of innovative ideas into classical architecture. The survived pre-war buildings and park zones were harmoniously incorporated into the architectural ensemble.

At present all buildings which form the Nezalezhnastci Avenue ensemble are inscribed on the State List of Historical and Cultural Values of the Republic of Belarus. The architectural ensemble itself, with its buildings and structures, the lay-out and the landscape is protected by the state and inscribed on the List as a complex of historical and cultural values. In 1968 a National Prize in architecture was introduced and it was won by a team of architects representing architectural schools of Moscow and Minsk, (M.Parusnikov, G.Badanov, I.Barsch, S.Botkovsky, A.Voinov, V.Korol, S.Musinsky, G.Sisoev, N.Trachtenberg, and N.Shpigelman) for the design and construction of the Nezaleznosci Avenue ensemble. [27]

The most famous Stalinist architectural ensembles in Minsk are also in Lenina Street, Kamsamolskaya Street, Kamunistychnaya Street, Pryvakzalnaya Square and others.

1949 Stalin Prize

Zemlyanoy Val 46-48, MGB Apartments by Yevgeny Rybitsky, 1949

Bolshaya Kaluzhskaya 7 by Ivan Zholtovsky, 1949, a half-way attempt to make Stalinist style affordable

Stalin Prize for the year 1949, announced in March, 1950, showed a clear and present division of Stalinist architecture – extravagant, expensive buildings are still praised, but so are attempts to make Stalinist style affordable. The 1949 prize was given exclusively for completed apartment buildings, a sign of top priority. It also demonstrates clear class stratification of eligible tenants of this time. Three Moscow buildings received awards:

Zemlyanoy Val, 46-48 by Yevgeny Rybitsky stands out in exterior luxury, even by 1949 standards. In addition to bay windows, it has elaborate rooftop obelisks, porticos and complex cornices. Even more is hidden inside. It was built for top MGB brass, with 200-meter apartments and a secure 2-level courtyard. Workforce included German POW’s; wiring, plumbing and finishes used requisitioned German materials. In 1949, it was praised, in 1952 criticized, and in 1955 Khruschev personally labelled it as “a pinnacle of excesses”.
Sadovo-Triumphalnaya, 4 by Rosenfeld and Suris is just one step below the ladder. Walls, deeply cut by bay windows and horizontal cornices, are finished in granite and terra cotta. Overall image is so heavyweight, it projects luxury as effectively as Rybitsky’s work. A nice design feature is a second set of stairs for the servants.
Bolshaya Kaluzhskaya, 7 by Zholtovsky is one of the first recognized attempts to cut costs per unit, while retaining Stalinist standards of quality and masonry technology. Two-room apartments are small by Stalinist standards, yet with plenty of storage space and a smart floorplan that discouraged conversion of single-family units to multi-family kommunalka. Externally, it’s a flat slab with modest decorations following Zholtovsky’s Florentine canon; no statues or obelisks, no bay windows. It was a sign of things to come.


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