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Art Review: Imagine Moscow

Last updated on March 14th, 2018

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.

Moscow Phantoms

Imagine Moscow, Design Museum, London, Palace of the SovietsTopped 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, Imagine Moscow, Soviet Architecture, Design Museum

Cloud Iron by Lissitzky (courtesy of Van Abbemuseum)

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.


Communal House, Imagine Moscow, Soviet Architecture, Design Museum

In this utopian Communal House by Nikolai Ladovsky, children would live separately from their parents, and a rooftop rocket would shoot residents into space.


People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry, Imagine Moscow, Soviet Architecture, Design Museum

The Narkomtiazhprom building was designed for the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry. It was located directly opposite Lenin’s Mausoleum in Red Square.

Soviet Propaganda

Propaganda, Imagine Moscow, Soviet Architecture, Design Museum

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.

Imagine Moscow, Soviet Architecture, Design MuseumA 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

Design Museum London, Imagine MoscowThe 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

The Design Museum

Cover image: The Palace of the Soviets (Kellenberger–White)


A London arts and culture blog featuring articles about art, theatre, opera, dance, music and design.

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