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Russian architecture has always had a great interest for the rest of the world: from the Reinassance catedrals which crown the Red Square in Moscow, till the contemporary Russian architecture of modern buildings, garnishing its most important streets. These are the highlights of the Russian architecture.


Russian architecture: glory and progress


Russian architecture, as many others, reflects its country own history. Most of the Russian cathedrals are preserved nowadays and they correspond to the oldest architecture samples of that region, as they were built in stone instead of wood, making them more suitable for their survival in time.


After centuries of architectural beauty, the soviet architecture period proposed something really different to its past. During the early years of that period, between 1915 and 1935, unadorned geometric forms with flat roofs stand out, creating a new style later on known as Constructivism.


That first phase led some years later to the Stalinist architecture, which pretended to emulate important skyscrapers built in New York or Chicago in order to convey the image of a maximum global power, obtained thanks to socialism. Seven big buildings were erected in Moscow’s city center with that aim.


Russian architecture


When thinking about soviet architecture, images of enormous collective housing blocks repeated along the streets may come to our mind. Those buildings were built between 1950 and 1970, following instructions given by the soviet leader Nikita Jruschovka. For him, architecture was nothing else than an instrument used to cover the needs of Russian people. The simplicity of those constructions made them achieve some records, as being able to finish five-story buildings in just 15 days.


The resurgence of the modern Russian architecture


Contemporary Russian architecture experienced its revival in 1990, after the fall of the communist regime. The new political system promised the construction of much more modern buildings, which would turn the contemporary Russian architecture into a global reference in architectural terms. However, many of those promises were not kept and Russian architecture had to settle for a lower quantity of modern constructions, in fact modern, but not as meaningful as expected at the beginning.


The leading movement at that time was the Russian constructivism, characterized by the use of simple lines and basic geometric forms. Its strength laid in its utility.


Russian constructivism aimed to implement avantgarde solutions into daily life, with modern and, at the time, useful designs. Colors were used in a minimal way, with the prevalence of black and red.


Contemporary Russian architecture


That stage was followed, as it often happens with artistic movements, by the ultimate expression in the opposite direction: the deconstructivism.


The deconstructivism is an important artistic movement in Russian modern architecture, in fact, it has been the prevailing one in the last two decades. When talking about deconstructivism, one thinks about contemporary buildings with almost futuristic shapes which stand out of the previous years’ constructions. An example of that architectural style is the Mercury City Tower, a skyscraper placed in Moscow.


modern russian architecture


The new Russian architecture is currently being developed in that same way, with skyscrapers. Unlike their constructivist precedents, these new towers fit better in the urban landscape, so one could say that the modern Russian architecture finally found a balance between the beauty of its well preserved historic jewels and the pragmatism of its Stalinist period.


Contemporary Russian architecture in pursuit of international acknowledgement


In Russia, the time for repetitive buildings based on pure utility is gone. That speed in the construction of the cities is leading out to a more extravagant architecture, more consistent with the postmodernism of the current era.


Russian contemporary architecture is looking for the international acknowledgement of its development. During the last years, several skyscrapers such as the Lakhta Center, 463 meters high and finished in 2018, or the Vostok and Zapad Towers, two buildings with a height of 374 and 242 meters respectively, finished in 2017. In addition to that, the opening of the Ajmat Tower, a modern building with over 100 storeys, is foreseen for 2020.


Big steps are being given in Russian contemporary architecture, so there are reasons to expect further significant advances in that country, maybe even setting new cities in the international architectural map, in addition to the big ones already known for their glorious past. We will stay tuned, waiting for those more than likely achievements that this country may reach in the next years.


Housing architecture in Russia will be discussed during the next edition of MCH. The Master of Advanced Studies in Collective Housing is a postgraduate full-time international professional program of advanced architecture design in cities and housing jointly offered by Universidad Politécnica of Madrid (UPM) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). 
Next edition of the MAS in Collective Housing will start in January 2019, and the application period is already opened, till 31.12.2018 or until vacancies are filled. Apply now!
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