“Shukhov Tower”

Is this the end for the Shukhov Tower?

Moscow, 27 March 2014, Art Media Agency (AMA). Moscow’s Shukhov Tower has been threatened with demolition. Its fate is to be decided in the next few weeks. The tower, constructed in 1922 by the architect and engineer Vladminer Shoukhov (1853-1939), was commissioned by Lenin for broadcasting Soviet radio programmes. Integral to the Russian Rationalist architectural landscape – whose primary inspiration is science as the basis for architecture – the Shukhov Tower represented a major innovation in architectural history on a national and international scale. The biggest hyperboloid structure in the world, the tower is emblematic of the style pioneered by its architect, whose hyperboloid design was strongly represented in 1896 thanks to the Russian industrial and art exhibition, which saw the construction of eight similar designs. The Shukhov tower, with its impressive metal lattice shell, provoked the admiration of Walter Benjamin who considered it to be a work of avant-garde. The tower is technically impressive, benefitting from triangular structure which is both flexible and strong and foreshadows the techniques used in modern constructions, such as Norman Foster’s 30 St Mary Axe building, more commonly referred to as “The Gherkin”. Norman Foster himself features on an impressive list of names who have signed a letter to Vladimir Putin calling for the tower’s preservation. Initiated by Jean-Louis Cohen, the letter also includes the signatures of Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. The news also incited several protests in Moscow on 18 March. The Shukhov Tower is desperately in need of maintenance, something which increasingly threatens its existence. In addition, the city’s urban development plan necessitates the tower’s destruction in order to make way for a building which would be the tower’s equal in height – 150 metres and fifty floors tall. When the majority of buildings in Moscow are restricted to 25 metres,...

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