Mass Demolition Of Historical Buildings In Russia - The Crisis Of Historical Urban Development

Mass Demolition Of Historical Buildings In Russia - The Crisis Of Historical Urban Development
Mass Demolition Of Historical Buildings In Russia - The Crisis Of Historical Urban Development

Video: Mass Demolition Of Historical Buildings In Russia - The Crisis Of Historical Urban Development

Video: Mass Demolition Of Historical Buildings In Russia - The Crisis Of Historical Urban Development
Video: Why Russia plans cities even worse than the USSR 2023, September
Demolition of architectural monuments
Demolition of architectural monuments

Sergei Ivanovich Smirnov. Moscow. The day is ringing (fragment). 1997

It is the high profitability of the construction business that has recently influenced the change in the appearance of Russian cities, which are simply "overgrown" with the latest structures made of concrete and glass before our eyes.

Only historians and local residents who grew up in this area and are accustomed to seeing lovely landscapes and cozy courtyards instead of asphalt parking lots and typical multi-storey buildings think about preserving the historical appearance of ancient cities in such a situation.

It's no secret that the steadily growing value of land in the central regions of cities is increasingly becoming the main reason for the demolition of historic buildings. This problem is by no means the prerogative of only St. Petersburg and Moscow, although it is here that the demolition of architectural monuments and buildings with a century-old history causes the greatest resonance. The sad fate of turning into ruins threatens numerous historical buildings in all cities of Russia, including those included in the famous Golden Ring.

The highest chances to "survive" in the struggle for the most attractive land plots in the central urban areas have real estate objects classified as monuments of architecture and history, entered in the corresponding state register. However, in order to qualify for such a high status, a building must meet certain requirements, since only a respectable age is often not enough. So, an immovable monument of architecture and history must have:

  • aesthetic value;
  • be an object of cultural heritage;
  • be an example of a particular architectural style;
  • have historical and social value.

Thus, the most important and the greatest chances of obtaining the status of monuments of history and architecture are buildings in the construction of which famous architects took part, famous historical figures lived, structures that have a significant impact on the formation of the city landscape, erected before the revolution, and so on.

In addition, in many cities of Russia there are so-called historical territories, zones recognized as valuable for urban planning, culture and architecture. Any construction activity in this area should be strictly regulated, each construction of buildings requires numerous approvals and individual decisions of the authorities.

And yet, even the status of architectural monuments, as well as location in a protected area, does not always become a guarantee of the safety and respect for historical buildings.

Of course, the demolition of old buildings in Russia did not begin in the last few years - immediately after the 1917 revolution in Moscow and other cities, there was a massive destruction of historical structures, mainly churches and temples.

Protection of cultural heritage
Protection of cultural heritage

Ivan Alekseevich Vladimirov. Removal of royal coats of arms Down with the eagle! 1917-1918

So, only in the first 20 years of the existence of the Soviet Union were destroyed such Moscow churches as the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the Church of Spiridon, Bishop of Trimifuntsky, built in 1629, the Church of Florus and Laurus at the Myasnitsky Gate, erected in 1657, the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity in Fields - a monument of the history of the XVI century and many other buildings.

The process of destruction of old Russian churches, palaces and buildings continued in the post-war years, during the massive restructuring and expansion of the capital, for example, in 1964, the Transfiguration Church in Preobrazhenskoye was blown up. It is interesting that, despite the mass protests of parishioners and the collection of signatures in defense of the church that survived the Moscow fire of 1812, the authorities justifying their decision by the construction of the Preobrazhenskaya Ploshchad metro station on the site of the church nevertheless demolished the building, and the metro station was eventually erected in another location.

With the development of market relations, when it turned out that the construction business is an extremely profitable business, the demolition of historical buildings in Russia has become even more widespread. So, the most resonant cases of recent years have become:

  • Warm shopping arcade - a complex of commercial buildings built in 1870, demolished by Elena Baturina's company Inteko in 2008;
  • historical buildings on Sadovnicheskaya embankment, demolished, despite being located in the protected town-planning zone in 2009;
  • The Alekseevs' estate, destroyed in 2010 by order of Alexander Alekseev, who at that time was the prefect of the Central Administrative District.

In St. Petersburg over the past 8 years, according to data collected by activists of the "Living City" movement, about 109 historical buildings of pre-revolutionary construction were demolished, including those located in the security zone. Of course, according to the activists themselves, not all buildings were of great cultural value, but most of them would still be more expedient to preserve, reconstructing and restoring their appearance. The most notorious cases of demolition of historical buildings of the "northern capital" were the demolition of a building on Nevsky Prospect 68, as well as the dismantling of the arena and barracks of the Preobrazhensky Life Guards Regiment.

Of course, historic buildings have their own defenders as well. As mentioned above, in St. Petersburg, the organization "Living City" is engaged in the protection of the historical image of the city, in Moscow the public organization "Arhnadzor" is most active in the protection of historical and architectural monuments, there is also the All-Russian Society for the Protection of Cultural and Historical Monuments.

The activities of "Arhnadzor" became one of the reasons that the authorities of the capital decided to ban the demolition of historical buildings in the center of Moscow.

The activities of these organizations should not be underestimated, for example, the activists of the Living City eventually managed to achieve a revision of the decision to build the Okhta Center opposite Smolny, and the activities of the Arkhnadzor participants became one of the reasons that the authorities of the capital in May 2011 the decision to ban the demolition of historic buildings in the center of Moscow and more than 200 already issued building permits were revoked.

The “last straw” that led to the Department of Cultural Heritage deciding to side with Arhnadzor was the demolition by Capital Group of an apartment building by the architect Kolbe, located on Bolshaya Yakimanka. Initially, the developer promised to preserve the facade of the building, having carried out reconstruction, but in the end, the house, which had stood for 110 years, was simply demolished by excavators.

It would seem that after such an important decision of the Moscow government, there is no need to worry about the fate of historical buildings (at least in the white-stone one), because the composition of the commission issuing permits for the demolition of historical buildings has been revised and its meetings will now be held in open mode.

However, after this decision of the authorities, the outbuilding of the city estate of the Glebov-Streshnev-Shakhovskys and the house of Feoktistov on Bolshaya Ordynka were demolished, so it is too early to put an end to the protection of the historical appearance of Russian cities.

In particular, not so long ago Russian Railways announced that it plans to demolish the building of the Circular Depot of the Nikolaev railway. The building, built in 1849, is the only circular depot in Moscow, belongs to the cultural and historical heritage of Russia and is protected by the state. The first attempts to destroy the depot were made back in 2009, but then the building was defended. Now Russian Railways is motivating its actions by the need to expand the fourth main track and increase the capacity of the Moscow railway.

Experts consider the motives of the main railway carrier of Russia controversial and point out that at present there are significantly fewer trains going along this direction than, for example, in the 80s, so there is no urgent need to expand communication routes.

And yet RJJ is serious, back in April, during the demolition of the Veerniy depot, which also belonged to the Nikolaev railway, talk began that the Circular depot would become the next destroyed historic railway building. The carrier's management said that without the decision of the Commission for the preservation of buildings in historically established areas, the demolition will not be carried out, but the Fan Depot was destroyed without a corresponding decision from the authorities of the capital, and the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage has repeatedly spoken out against such actions by Russian Railways.

If we compare the position of historical buildings in Russia with the cities of Europe, then the comparison turns out so not in favor of our country that it is not necessary to talk about any positive trends at all.

Protection of architectural monuments
Protection of architectural monuments

Heinrich Tomec. Nerudova Ulice, Prague. 1909

Indeed, in Prague, Paris, Berlin, Budapest, there are still entire historical quarters, with residential buildings built in the 19th century, completely retaining their historical appearance and at the same time meeting all modern ideas about comfort inside. In all states of Western Europe, renters and owners of historic buildings are responsible for their safety and in case of non-compliance with the laws, owners face very substantial fines.

In Russia, over the past decades, in cities such as Nizhny Novgorod, Yaroslavl and Vologda, there have already been irreversible changes in the historical part, whole city quarters have changed their appearance.

It is much more profitable for developers to simply demolish a historic building than to try to carefully preserve at least its façade, because reconstruction and historical restoration work will cost much more than the usual construction of a new building.

Of course, Russia is not alone in its attempts to preserve historical buildings, in Ukraine a similar picture is observed in Kiev, where the house that became the birthplace of Mikhail Bulgakov, the building in which Serge Lifar lived, the house of Sholom Alleychem and other historical buildings have already been demolished.

However, it is always more advisable to look up to those who have achieved success in any field, rather than indicate that the neighbors are doing even worse. The European method of preserving historic buildings can be applied in Russia, but this requires, first of all, a revision of the legislative framework, the creation of new laws regulating the development of the central districts of cities and the tightening of the responsibility of developers and building owners for the preservation of their original appearance.