This is already the fourth chapter of the architectural walks in my native town Kolpino which is located close to St Petersburg and is actually a part of its agglomeration. I’ve started the Kolpino series (part 1, part 2, part 3) back in 2014 and all the photos were actually taken in the summer. Let’s investigate into the Square that surrounds the railway station this time. This Privokzalnaya square (literally around the railways station) is the first thing one sees when arriving in Kolpino from St Petersburg by train – it forms a true ensemble which doesn’t fit in one post – or one shot! : )
The book that I’m reading now (on Avangarde architecture in Leningrad) cites various projects designed by Alexander Gegello, a prolific Soviet architect who created or rebuilt quite a lot of buildings in Leningrad and the USSR. For example, the Dvorets Kultury (the Palace of Culture) in Kolpino was Gegello’s work. And this ensemble I would like to tell you about today was also partially designed by Gegello but mostly by Mikhail Klimentov, in collaboration with other architects, and finished by 1955.
Gegello was working both in the constructivist and the neo-classical (or Stalin’s empire or Stalin’s neo-classicism) style – the latter following the former and becoming the dominant style up to Stalin’s death. Klimentov already belonged to the Stalin’s official style and you can instantly feel that in the ensemble.
This district was heavily bombarded during the Second World War as Kolpino was just on the front line. Actually, entire city was almost erased and only some old buildings remain. So the in the 1950s Klimentov’s architectural bureau responsible for the reconstruction of the district was trying to commemorate the bravery and the struggle of Kolpino citizens by making monumental buildings. They were thinking BIG.
Hence this dominant tower with a spire and the figures of a worker and a woman impersonating the Motherland for sure. Peace, labour, new life and the revolution, of course. There are also various bas-reliefs all around the building. It looks both onto the railways and to the Komsomolsky Canal, and IS still visible from a distance since there are no other high buildings around blocking the view.
I always wanted to get there, to the top floor of the tower and look around. Here’s a chance to get a closer look at the sculptures on the top and some shots from the roof here. But I usually just pass under one of its arches leading to the inner court – a habitual shortcut from the railway station to my home.
But boy are these arches tremendously elaborate and oh so dilapidated (and smelly)…
The Stalin’s official style, neo-classicism, was all about grandeur and at the same time lavish details, resulting in a weird cross between the classical Roman monumentality and the Soviet decorative propaganda.
I wonder if this VKHOD (entrance) sign was lit in the night? The lamp is definitely very old too:
Gosh, this door has seen a lot! And is almost “eating” the ground now.
Another arch unveiling another building by Klimentov and Co:
This building – although in a distance from the Square – is right in the center of the two curving sister-buildings. They say it used to be a local library and then housed a bank. In pure architectural terms it is there to create a perfect perspective (see the second picture from the top).
This is the inner part of the sister-building on the other side of the square. It is rounded as it follows the curve of the round square – and doesn’t look that very sophisticated.
Here’s the curve from the Square side:
The curve in its perspective plus some Kolpino folk:
And some more details of the ground floor, obviously designed to house stores and organizations. The grate:
This lamp did not survive to the passing of time but look at the decor:
The center of the Square just could not do without a statue of Lenin by Manizer and Fedotov, 1957:
One of the things people usually notice in Lenin’s or other communist statues is where they are looking at or pointing at. Lenin is looking somewhere in the direction of this:
Who knows if he approves of it or not, hard to tell from his noble face. But the thing I can tell you is that this phenomenon of lampposts, walls, bus stops, entire kiosks etc covered with small paper stickers and bearing traces of milliards of stickers preceding them is something that is going away. People used it before Internet arrived, you know 🙂 This bus stop board is a survivor from God knows when. I did not check since the summer 2014, it might as well not be there anymore.
But this flag-holder is here to stay in its relative safety up there on the wall. The Square was the starting point of many an organized manifestation-demonstration in the Soviet times and anyway every building had such a flag holding thing for the May 1st or November 7th celebrations.
Why are the old things infinitely more attractive than the new ones? Because the old things have history. They might have belonged to someone else and that makes you curious to begin with. They might have some mystery about them, some unknown facts that you would love to find out. The old Russian proverb says ‘An old friend is better than two new friends’ and I agree with it.
Will try to finally publish all the Kolpino walks soon(er or later). Adding this to my St Petersburg series.