Monday, February 28, 2011

Moscow revisited

This is very old but I forgot to link to it at the time. It's a short piece about the Moscow underground for Building Design, so it will be hidden behind a vast iron curtain of capitalist exploitation (a pay wall), unless you have a subscription.

Given that, I've decided to use this as an excuse for posting up some more b-sides and outtakes, this time of photos I took of Moscow above ground, during a blazing hot week last summer.

There's a lot of this sort of stuff plonked around Moscow, office blocks that are too much to stomach even for the staunchest of Po Mo apologists. This one is truly remarkable in its vulgarity. There are turrets and rotundas and mirror glass and disturbingly skinny columns and various shades of beige render and it must have several hundred rooms in it without any natural light. A triumph of sorts.

An apposite contrast to this, a view of the sadly neglected and falling to pieces Narkomfin communal living block which appears to have a massive street lamp attached to it.

There is a Mad Max quality to much of Moscow. It looks like a European city but the social niceties associated with that are disappearing in a heat haze of anarco-capitalism....

...such as the distinction between pavements and streets. There is, apparently, a massive shortage of parking spaces in Moscow. Not that you'd notice. More shocking Po Mo in the background.

I have no idea what this is, but it's fairly extraordinary you have to admit.

We popped our heads around a doorway and found this, a fabulous confection of multiplying occidental domes.

We paid due tribute to Melnikov and his fabulous Bakhmetevskaya Street bus garage,  a supergraphic adorned rhomboid with an impressively complicated roof structure. It now houses an art gallery and an irritatingly fashionable cafe.

Superior fontage.

Nothing much to say about this shot, but the screen never flickered into life.

A sign offering helpful instruction to the architect.

Beautiful baroque super-impositions of surfaces, an architecture of phenomenal rather than literal depth.

While much of Moscow is dilapidated and crumbling, the Kremlin is immaculate, almost unreal in its spotlessness. The carefully tended lawns lends it a further element of unreality.

Interesting displacement of windows 'round the back of Saint Basil's.

This is the entrance gate to the Kremlin. It's a wonderful thing. The top section is particularly nutty, like a brick and plaster tiara. The bit you can't get to has lots of doorways and openings and the bit that you can doesn't.

This superb building is also opposite the kremlin. It's the Manege, built originally as a horse riding arena but now an exhibition centre famous as the venue where Krushchev denounced degenerate (constructivist) art. I like buildings that have too many of any one thing,  as if the designer has overdosed on the 'multiple-array' tool in CAD. 

More typography really, this time of a neo-cowboy vernacular. We watched England crash out of the World Cup in a bar somewhere inside the adjacent building. We were the only people in there, which was just as well. It seems an eternity away now, which, from a footballing point of view is no bad thing.


owen hatherley said...

No defence of Moscow pomo? For shame! Someone (other than Simon Jenkins) has to. That said, I think one of the Kremlin gates is a 90s reconstruction (not sure if it's the one here though).

Incidentally - Melnikov, not Malevich. Garage is a weird place - getting frisked on the way in as if you're on the way to see the Prime Minister rather than bad Sots Art.

Charles Holland said...

Melnikov. Dear, dear, I think I even changed that as well. 0 out of 10.

Yeah, wimped out of the Po Mo question.

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