Beauty outside Garden Ring: Zaha Hadid’s building and Shukhov’s masterpiece

19 March 2018

Moscow does not end at the Kremlin, Bolshoi Theatre and St Basil’s Cathedral. There are many unique sights such as bridges, towers, stadiums and entire residential areas outside the Garden Ring. Shall we take a walk?

Dominion Tower

5 Sharikopodshipnikovskaya Street

Dominion Tower, a seven storey business centre, looks among the common residential buildings, a maternity clinic and a tyre plant like an alien on Sharikopodshipnikovskaya Street. Indeed, white tiles cover each other like pieces of bread in a sandwich that was not done very neatly. There are fragile layers of glass windows between them.

Standing on the highest floor looking down, it is impossible not to see the zebra pattern: intricate black and white winding staircases and balustrades that look like a puzzle. It is unclear what is up and what is down: shining black piano-key steps go along both sides of the staircase; it makes your head spin.

This is the only building in Moscow designed by well-known architect Zaha Hadid, the first female architect to win the Pritzker Prize in architecture. She designed the Heydar Aliyev Cultural centre in Baku, the aquatic centre in London, the National Museum of Arts of the 21st Century (MAXXI) in Rome and the funicular stations in Innsbruck.

Rostokino Aqueduct

Prospekt Mira, behind building 186

This interesting bridge, located not from the Yauza Forest and Sokolniki Park, doesn’t look alien. To the contrary, it matches the park’s green landscape. This is the Rostokino Aqueduct, the only element left from the Mytishshi Pipeline, the first gravity feed water service in Russia. The white-stone bridge with 21 spans was built on the orders of Catherine the Great in 1783–1784. The construction cost a lot: over 1.6 million roubles were spent on the aqueduct. It was even titled “the million rouble aqueduct.”

The bridge was no longer used by the 19th century. In Soviet years it held a heating main, and today the restored Rostokinsky Aqueduct is a pedestrian bridge. This beautiful bridge surprises everyone who sees it for the first time.

Zhivopisny Bridge

Marshala Zhukova Prospekt

Another unique bridge does its duty. The bridge called Zhivopisny (Picturesque) unites Marshala Zhukova Prospekt with the Moscow Ring Road. The bridge goes from one bank of the Moskva River at an acute angle and seems to run along the river instead of crossing it like most bridges do. The reason is the unique location: a closed area on one side and dense residential area on the other.

This difficult technical task had an original engineering solution: the project united two principles of bridge support: pylon and archway resulting in an archway pylon. And what a system it is! The intricate construction is painted red with an observation deck like a “flying saucer” hanging underneath.


24 Luzhnetskaya Embankment

Another Moscow sight is just a 15-minute drive from central Moscow. This is no exaggeration: Luzhniki was nominated for an international architecture award, and FIFA’s specialists consider the Big Sport Arena, which opened last year after reconstruction, one of the best stadium designs with the best field view in the world.

The historical appearance of the stadium has been maintained, along with the familiar light sand colour; the façade has been decorated with semitransparent panels portraying athletes which are illuminated. And the inside of the stadium has changed: the grandstands are now closer to the pitch, there is a huge media screen, a roof screen and a playing surface of natural grass. Soon millions of fans will focus their attention on Luzhniki: the 2018 FIFA World Cup starts on 14 June and Luzhinki is the main arena.

Shukhov Tower

8 Shukhov Street

Shukhov Tower, the most famous masterpiece by Vladimir Shukhov, is considered one of the most beautiful and outstanding engineering concepts in the world. The solution is elegant, like a 160-metre-high steel tower of intricate lace. The construction is the result of hanging and arched hyperboloid gridshells first used by Vladimir Shukhov.

The engineer used this construction in hundreds of buildings, but the Shukhov Tower is the highest. It was assembled in a specially designed telescopic fashion: the upper sections were assembled inside the lowest one and then raised with building blocks and hoists. The tower has been transmitting radio programmes since the 1920s and television programmes since the 1930s. In 2002, the tower lost its functions and is now included on UNESCO’s list of Regional Cultural Heritage Sites.

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