Giant columns, triangular windows, massive metal structures, an abundance of turrets … The architecture of Moscow in the late nineties – early noughties, popularly called “Luzhkov’s Empire”, is hard not to recognize among the modern urban development. Individual buildings and entire complexes that sprung up chaotically at that time in different parts of the Russian capital still cause a lot of controversy.
The Izmaylovo Kremlin also has an ambiguous reputation, which recently appeared in the capital’s news in connection with the dismantling of a wooden mill on the territory of the vernissage. One of the long-term construction projects of its era, it once arose on the site of a spontaneous market. The market, by the way, has not gone anywhere today, on the contrary, it has grown even more, surrounding white walls with numerous wooden sheds on all sides. The catchy “semi-antique” complex now looks more like a gingerbread house, or rather, a whole village, which enhances the feeling of its isolation from the whole city. Nevertheless, now this “the most Russian place in Moscow”, as the Izmailovsky Kremlin positions itself on its own official website, has again found itself in the center of attention of the general public.
The news about the demolition of a mill allegedly of the 18th century, published on the Iznanka Izmailovo telegram channel, prompted a public discussion of the value of the entire complex of buildings. The question arose: is it worth releasing this territory for building the area with high-rise residential complexes? This applies equally to the fate of other buildings of the early twenty-first century: which is better – not to touch them for now, or to free the expensive Moscow land for the needs of the city, of which he has a lot?
There are many such controversial “pearls” in the very center of the capital. Take, for example, the Nautilus shopping center on Lubyanka, the Et Cetera theater on Chistye Prudy … Let us also recall the monument to Peter I on the Moskva River, the inaccurately restored Resurrection Gate. Shopping centers and offices replete with fake turrets, asymmetrical columns and other strange details. Yuri Mikhailovich Luzhkov himself, when he was the mayor of Moscow, attributed such new buildings to the “uncertainty of styles.” Features, which, in his opinion, were a tradition for Moscow – they say, its architecture has been eclectic at all times.
The Nautilus shopping center is one of the most controversial new buildings in the historical part of the city. Photo: Alexander Korolkov
There are indeed a lot of buildings in the capital’s development that have appeared at various times, which does not prevent some of them from coexisting quite harmoniously, while others argue with each other. But most importantly, before the beginning of the 2000s, eclecticism was never an end in itself, it simply arose as a result of combining different architectural styles in one urban environment. But the dominance of the turrets has its own explanation. For too long, Soviet architects were forced to think on the scale of “khrushchebs”, where any detail that went beyond the boundaries of houses similar to each other, like twin brothers, was considered an architectural excess. And suddenly there was an opportunity to build differently! But it took time for architects, developers, and just people who order this “music in stone”, as architecture is also called, to develop taste and style for this “differently”.
Until the early 2000s, eclecticism was never an end in itself, it simply emerged as a result of combining different architectural styles in one urban environment.
How long will Luzhkov’s buildings stay with us? Hard to say. “I suppose not for long,” says Elizaveta Likhacheva, director of the Shchusev Museum of Architecture. “The quality of construction of most of these buildings does not just leave much to be desired, it is simply disgusting. Most likely, they will not stand for a long time. will remain. Or only a few will remain. “
For the sake of fairness, I would like to note that among the “Luzhkov era” there are very unusual buildings that can become part of the worthy legacy of Moscow in the 90s. Take, for example, the famous egg house on Mashkov Street by architect Sergei Tkachenko. The Parus house is one of the dominants of the Khodynskoye field, nicknamed by Muscovites the “whale house”. The first skyscrapers of “Moscow City” … Will this happen? We have to wait. It is known that connoisseurs are not always fair to their contemporaries. Let us at least recall the harsh criticism of the glass pyramid in the courtyard of Napoleon, which became the main entrance to the Louvre. And today, how can you imagine Paris without this attraction? In a word, it is no coincidence, according to UNESCO standards, any building is recognized as a monument of architectural heritage not earlier than forty years after its construction.