THE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
This edition of Prozhektor celebrates the new buildings of Moscow and forsees its role in the future. Here are some selected quotes from the article:
‘Socialist Moscow will be above all a city free from piled-up buildings, factories and overcrowding. In 1931 the June Plenum of the Central Committee…decreed that all new commercial building work in Moscow was to be halted. A general plan for the reconstruction of Moscow envisages the removal to outside the city of a complete series of factories whose presence is harmful to the local population.
The most important questions are increasing the size of Moscow and re-distributing its population. The general plan envisages Moscow as a city of five million. In order to provide five million people with all the conditions of a cultured life it is necessary to extend the city.’
The buildings illustrated above (right) are sketches and plans for:
- New Central Stadium of the USSR to be built at Izmaiolovo. Architect: N. Kolli (it looks very similar to Albert Speer’s design for the Zeppelinfeld Stadium at Nürnberg)
- Mezhrabpomfilm Cinema at Sadovo-Triumphalnaya Square. Architects: A. Shchusev, A. Zhukov, D. Chichulin.
- People’s Commissariat of Defence, facade – Gogolevsi Bul. Architect: L. Rudnev.
- State Meyerhold Theatre, Sadovo-Triumfalnaya Square. Architect: A. Shchusev.
The tallest building in the world
Three architects, led by Iofan, (House on the Embankment), the others being Shchko and Gelfreikh (State Lenin Library) were awarded the commission to design what would have been the tallest building in the world – the Palace of Soviets. It was to be situated on the site of the largest orthodox catherdral in the world – Christ the Saviour, very near the river in central Moscow. The cathedral was destroyed in 1931 (there is original Soviet news footage of that here). Preparation and work on the foundations for the giant building continued from the mid 1930s until the German invasion in 1941.
Subsequently, the steel girders of the incomplete lower sections of the building were removed to provide fortifications. The building was never resumed and the site was converted into the wonderful outdoor Krapotkinsky swimming pool, (right, with Iofan’s House on the Embankment in the back, right) where one could bathe outside, in the depths of winter, in warm water with steam rising from it. The swimming pool was destroyed and the cathedral rebuilt. It opened in 2000.
A Grandiose Plan
The architecture article concludes:
With the general plan for the reconstruction of Moscow the Bolsheviks are throwing a challenge to the entire capitalist world. With the general plan for the reconstruction of Moscow the Bolsheviks are rousing millions of workers around the world to the fight. Let’s not forget that we are building the capital of the world!
There is an intersting article on the state and future of aviation. The photograph shows Moscow airport as it looked in the 1930s. People often wonder why the metro station in Moscow called ‘Airport’ is nowhere near an airport at all. The reason is that it was near the airport in this picture, Khodynka, which served Moscow until 1941. The Mig and Sukhoi fighter plane design bureaus are to the immediate South East of what remains of the airport today. They used Khodynka airport for testing purposes until 2003.
PROZHEKTOR magazine – general
Along with Ogonek (1923- ) and Krasnaya Niva (1923–31), Prozhektor (Searchlight) (1923–35) was one of the new ‘Thin illustrated magazines’ appearing after the Civil War in the USSR. The leading editor was Nikolai Bukharin, who was editor of Pravda until his removal in 1929. Prozhektor was a supplement to Pravda. At its inception it was the only colour journal in the country. It published ‘newsworthy’ in-depth articles, stories, poems, literary criticism, etc. – a broad subject range. A new edition was on sale once a week but then difficulties in 1930 due to the ‘shortage of paper in the USSR’ meant that it appeared less frequently. This signalled the start of Stalin’s ever-tighter grip on every aspect of Soviet life. By that time, Bukharin was under suspicion. Later Prozhektor appeared twice per month. Prozhektor is an excellent view of the cultural tendencies of the time – striking avant-garde photographic images interlaced with subjective political aspiration. It’s stark visual and direct journalistic approaches make it an invaluable relic of its era. Of the three editors of this edition, Bukharin, Slepkov and Schmidt, two (Bukharin and Schmidt) were shot after Stalin’s orders, in 1938 and 1950 respectively. What happened to Slepkov (his name means ‘son of the blind man’) is so far unknown to us. We have more items available concerning Bukharin – an article in Ogonek and the official volume of his trial transcript.