Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bullshit Building 1: Palace of the Soviets

Many buildings were built for a good reason. Some were built for reasons that no longer relevant or valid. But some building were built for specific bullshit reasons like ... for show-off. These buildings usually spectacular in size, shape, or both, but without any reason other than to satisfy the vanity of its initiator. I call them "Bullshit buildings."

This article will be my first article that review those bullshit buildings.

The bullshit building that got the honor to be reviewed first is the "Palace of the Soviets."

The Beginning
When the Soviet Union was founded, its elites decided that they need a big "in your face" evidence to the world that communism rules. They need super-mega-gigantic-gargantuan piece of work to compensate their inferiority complex. They need a spectacular scene. They need ... a bullshit building!

So, the elites of the Soviet communist party started an international design competition in February 1931 involving 15 renown architects. In May 1931, the "more-equal"s decided the contest had no winner.

Okaaay ... so did they cancel the project? Not exactly. 

In 18 July 1931, they restarted the contest, attracted 272 concepts. Somehow, those "more-equal"s, headed by "the most equal" himself, decided in February 1932 that the year long contest had 3 winners. All 3 winners decided to change their design from Avant-Garde to neoclassicism, enraging other architects. That means ... a new contest was needed!

Finally, in May 1933, one design was chosen. The "most equal" himself audited the design.

The Design
Palace of the Soviets from:
Let's see what kind of design won that contest.

Super-tall building? YOU GOT IT! This building will stand 495 meter (1624 feet) tall, making it the tallest building of its era. By the way, the "Most equal" mustached "Man of steel" (Joseph Stalin, NOT that other Man of steel) specifically ordered that the building had to be at least as tall as the Eiffel Tower.

A gigantic-supposed to be badass-but in reality is a kissass statue on top of the building? HELL YEAH! The statue on top was supposed to be 80 meters (262 feet) tall! That is taller than the statue of liberty! Here is the tricky part: the "Most equal" had a nasty hobby: accusing his opponents "betraying the revolution, betraying the idea of Lenin." So, he was very careful not to put himself on the pedestal. That's why you got the statue of Lenin, the bald & previous "most equal", not Stalin, the mustached & current "most equal", on top of this bullshit building.

Gargantuan shadows and impression of grandeur caused by the oversize building and statue as a facade in front of millions who died in famine? BINGO!

Congratulations comrades, we got our perfect bullshit building! Time to build it!

The Construction
Before the winner of the contest was chosen, the location for this bullshit building was already chosen: on top the rubble of "Cathedral Christ the Savior," the largest Orthodox church ever built, located nearby the Moscow River.
Postcard showing the Cathedral

Yup, the "more equal"s and "most equal" decided to show their manliness by destroying something that can't hit them back. That is because they were so manly!

Since they were bad boys, they also thought that blowing up a church, an important historical building, an icon, would  convince the whole world that they were cool boys. Ah ... such urge to find acceptance was too hard to be resisted. 

So, they blow up the whole church, freeing the land ... at 5th of December 1931, BEFORE the design was finalized. Doesn't matter. Who needs a church if you were communist bad boys?

They just finished the work on the foundation when a nasty unpredictable thing called "German Invasion" began. Mother Russia definitely needed the steel, concrete, and other materials that was at that time earmarked for the bullshit building.

After the wars ended in victory, looks like a new use could be added to the bullshit building, but the project was canceled. One blogger mentioned that the cancellation was due to the fact that the water from the river made the soil in that area unsuitable for skyscraper like this. If that was true, we got one more reason to give "Bullshit seal" to this building.

The End of the Bullshit
After some years, the Soviet government decided to build world's largest swimming pool on the site.

Not bad. The site FINALLY could be of some use.

The current Cathedral. From:
After the fall of Soviet Union, the Russian government decided to ... re-build the cathedral. Nowadays, the gigantic "Cathedral of Christ the Savior" was returned to its place, ending the bullshit for good.

*1st of June 2012 Update*
The next bullshit building: Every House in "Pantai Mutiara" Complex

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