If you’re a fan of Fritz Lang’s futuristic Bauhaus-inspired science fiction film Metropolis, then you’ll be a fan of Imagine Moscow: Architecture, Propaganda, Revolution which opens today at the Design Museum in London. Imagine this: a Moscow city centre which rivals Manhattan and which includes a network of horizontal skyscrapers and the world’s tallest building. This is the idealistic Moscow conjured up by post Russian Revolution architects and designers in the 1920s and 1930s. The exhibition unveils six rarely seen, unbuilt architectural buildings and includes large-scale plans, Soviet propaganda posters, textiles and magazines.
Topped with a 100 metre statue of Lenin, the Palace of the Soviets was to be the world’s largest building, beating the Empire State Building in New York. Following the German invasion of 1941, construction was halted and the steel frames were recycled into much-needed bridges and fortifications instead. The foundations became the world’s largest outdoor swimming pool.
Cloud Iron was designed to alleviate Moscow’s overcrowding issues. The eight skyscrapers would house office and living spaces on the upper floors and tram and metro stations on the lower floors.
In this utopian Communal House by Nikolai Ladovsky, children would live separately from their parents, and a rooftop rocket would shoot residents into space.
The Narkomtiazhprom building was designed for the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry. It was located directly opposite Lenin’s Mausoleum in Red Square.
Propaganda posters such as “Working woman, fight for a clean canteen and for healthy food” were aimed at female Muscovites. The Soviets were keen to revolutionise traditional family structure.
A Soviet timetable for communal living: what a day!
Imagine Moscow runs from the 15th March to 4th June. The exhibition includes 2 talks, Imagine Moscow: Lectures on Russian design; and Revolution, New Art for a New World.
The Design Museum
The Design Museum is the world’s leading architectural and design museum. The newly-renovated building, designed by architect John Pawson, opened in November 2016.
224-238 Kensington High Street London W8 6AG. Nearest tube: High Street Kensington
Opening Times: Daily: 10.00 – 18:00
Cover image: The Palace of the Soviets (Kellenberger–White)