Статья опубликована в рамках: Научного журнала «Студенческий» № 3(131)
Рубрика журнала: Искусствоведение
FROM PROJECT TO CONSTRUCTION: KIROVSKY DEPARTMENT STORE AS AN EXAMPLE OF SOVIET AVANT-GARDE ARCHITECTURE
The 1920s was a period of huge expansion of the modern architectural movements in the Soviet Union, and by the end of the decade soviet avant-garde architecture reached its zenith. In Leningrad, new architectural solutions had the greatest impact on the development of city outskirts, and the Kirovsky District in particular. This is how this era left one of its most valuable monuments in the area surrounding Stachek Square and Narvskaya metro station.
This is the building that now known as Kirovsky department store, but which originally was the Department store and factory-kitchen of Kirovsky District. The building was designed by Leningrad architects, members of ARU A. K. Barutchev, I. A. Gilter, I. A. Meerzon and Y. O. Rubanchik, and was completed by 1931. What was the purpose of its costruction?
In the year 1926, the leading architectural avant-garde journal in the USSR “Sovremennaya Arkhitektura” issued a letter of its reader I. S. Grossman-Roshchin who wondered how modern soviet architecture represented the ideas of a new socialist era . The response to this question can be formulated in the words of M. Ginzburg, who spoke on behalf of the constructivist movement: “our living conditions… persistently push the modern architect along the path of inventing new types of architecture — which are to frame and crystallize the new socialist way of life” . Though none of the architects – authors of the project for Kirovskaya factory-kitchen considered themselves constructivists, they, I assume, would agree with Ginzburg’s view on the goals of the modern architect. In fact, this is exactly what they were doing in Leningrad – inventing new types and new standards of architecture. Together with chief engineer A. G. Dzhorogov, these four architects developed this new architectural type – a factory-kitchen. It was aimed to provide mass production of ready-to-serve meals and semi-finished products and relieve female workers from cooking at home.
Factory-kitchens were planned to be located in large industrial areas to serve enterprises canteens with food. By 1931, there had been four factory-kitchens built in Leningrad – all designed by Barutchev, Gilter, Meerzon and Rubanchik. The building on Stachek Square was multifunctional – the factory-kitchen shared it with a department store: the store windows faced the square, whereas all industrial premises were deeper in the building. The factory-kitchen consisted of a production zone, a canteen and a shop for selling prepared foods. The cooking process was mechanized and followed a ring scheme in order to avoid crossings between the production cycle and human traffic .
The building demonstrated a wide range of expressive forms which modern architecture operated with: asymmetrical combinations of building sections, dynamic interaction between horizontal and vertical lines, contrasts of concrete and glass surfaces, rounded volumes, horizontal windows along the entire facade length… All these features clearly revealed the internal structure but at the same time emphasized the intrinsic value of figurative expression.
After more than 80 years in use, the building has changed significantly. The kitchen-factory was closed by 1990s and refurbished for a shopping center (now former canteen spaces are occupied by a McDonald’s restaurant). The open galleries of the department store were rebuilt; the flat roof was replaced by a pitched one. A number of annexes adjoined to the building damaged its appearance, as well as advertising constructions on the facades. To make matters worse, several small shops and a bus stop in front of the main entrance partly blocked the view on the department store.
The building remained in this very poor condition until 2016, when a new owner began an extensive renovation. Now complete, the Department store building has been returned to its original appearance.
It must be admitted, that I have always considered Kirovsky department store as the most poorly made, the most neglected building on Stachek Square. However, the more I knew the history of this project, the more I liked it, so hostility turned into sympathy, or even admiration.
This case once again confirms how vulnerable avant-garde architecture is to any further changes and additions. As we have all sadly witnessed, it usually brings more harm than improvements. Getting back to Kirovsky department store, I am glad that the latest renovation has been successful and will raise public awareness of the avant-garde heritage and its great value.
- И. С. Гроссман-Рощин. Заметки профана. Вместо письма в редакцию Современная Архитектура // Современная архитектура. 1926. № 3. — С. 77, 3 стр. обложки.
- М. Я. Гинзбург. Международный фронт современной архитектуры // Современная архитектура. 1926. № 2. — С. 44.
- Б. М. Кириков, М. С. Штиглиц. Архитектура ленинградского авангарда. Путеводитель. – СПб.: Коло, 2008. – С. 105-108.