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Entries in russia (2)

Tuesday
Jan222013

St Basil

St. Basil's cathedral, 1554. Restoration scaffolding, 1968

Found this 1968 photograph of St Basil's Cathedral undergoing a restoration.  Evidently during the Soviet era, the backdrop for news reports was generally one of the other more utilitarian modern faces of Red Square, but today its polychromed glory is the ubiquitous backdrop to anything coming out of Moscow.  

Somewhat surprisingly, for those of us who have never been there, this is a brick building, built in 1554. Previous churches throughout Russia and on this site had been wood, probably much like this one from the mid-1700s.

Richard Davies, photographer: Podporozhye, Arkhangel region, Church of St Vladimir , 1757

During a 1955 restoration of St Basil's, a wood frame was found inside its load-bearing brick walls.  This would seem to indicate that the long tradition of stud or stave churches (that date from the late 900s) was used as the internal scaffolding for the new, aggrandised St. Basil's.  It is, they say, a veritable textbook of experimental brick work.  The traditional tall thin volumes of Russian Orthodox stave churches suits brick well: spans are narrow.

St Basil was something of a mendicant himself, something his beautiful but gaudy presence on Red Square belies.

Monday
May072012

oil in Khanty-Mansiysk

Erick van Egeraat. Chess and Billiard Club, 2008. Khanty-Mansiysk, RussiaKhanty-Mansiysk is something like the Calgary of Siberia: a glossy oil city.  Erick van Egeraat was one of the founders of Mecanoo, and now has one of those globalised practices with offices in Rotterdam, London, Moscow,  Budapest and Prague.  The Chess and Billiard club building was commissioned by the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Region in 2008, and underwritten by Gazprom.  It isn't large, just 8000 m2, but it is special, built for the 2010 Chess Olympiad.  On van Egeraat's website he says that Khanty-Mansiysk 'understood the need to deliver signature buildings that underline the prosperous state the city is in'.  

I've recently been writing about Calgary, which has Foster's behemothic Bow Building as evidence of its prosperous state, and an enormously expensive Calatrava bridge.  Sometimes one wishes that the prosperity was spread about a bit, in small projects such as chess clubs, throughout the city.