My home town Kolpino has celebrated its 293 years in 2015. They are not many, the architectural sights of Kolpino, but thanks to the town’s compact size they are also easy to reach and to be admired 🙂 This is the fifth post in the Kolpino architectural series (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4), dedicated to some of the buildings near the railway station.
In my last post on the Privokzalnaya Square in Kolpino I talked about the new plans of redesigning Kolpino after the war. In brief, the town should have been restructured in a very straightforward – classical – way with all those Stalinist neo-classical buildings. And this district is indeed quite rich in various takes at what we call the Stalinist neo-classical style. The Privokzalnaya Square was supposed to set a perspective for the ‘new’ Kolpino, resurrecting after the damages of the Second World War (Kolpino was right on the front, defending Leningrad from being conquered).
This is one of my favourite residential buildings in the entire city – it is not situated somewhere where it imposingly stands out and yet you somehow feel there’s something … intelligent to this house with arches and columns and rounded staircase shaft at the back. I also like it because it has a library on the first floor, hidden beneath the bushes with its windows cozily lit.
A typical Soviet paradnaya painted in the typical green on the bottom and white on top, with a typical central heating element and tiled floor. Add to this various smells and objects. Not the most pleasing sight but at the same time so very typical most Russians wouldn’t even notice its state!
An atypical staircase leading to the entrance: the door is also quite tall to be categorized as typical.
This building remains a sort of a mystery to me – its back wall is blind and the front is all covered with these plants so that you cannot make head or tail out of it really. And the entrance is blocked, looks like it’s a private house or something, with a garden (atypical for a city!).
A relic from the past – a wooden house, on sale since 2006. No chances for this ol’ guy, unfortunately… They say it used to be an orphanage before the revolution and then apparently served as a residential house for loooong years.
A real relic, as if you suddenly travel to a provincial town or a rich village…
Trees growing out of the roof and walls but the wood is still sturdy (oh those decadent details!)
Cobweb instead of letters:
…and back to the post-war residential buildings – after some renovation and especially on a fine summer day these houses look almost pastoral:
the balconies look suspiciously not classical:
I wonder when this lamp was lost – apparently since then no one really cared for it anyway:
ha, this is typical – of any period in time and history 🙂
When Khrushchev took over as the First Secretary of the Central Committee, he started the campaign against the excessive ornamentalism in the architecture. He would fight against these bas-reliefs, too:
Although I do like those details – as well as the houses themselves (the one below is from 1950-1951) which look pretty un-Soviet, almost individualistic and private (we won’t mention that most of the big flats got soon transformed into kommunalka (communal flats) and people had to live in tiny rooms sharing space with many others).
One of the two identical 1952 residential buildings forming a kind of ensemble close to the Kolpino railway station – see all those medallions with faces and stars at the top:
The ballerinas on this frieze look perfectly Stalin-era-like – the real Russian women with a strong body and those Roman / Ancient Greek looks. This is an ex-cinema hall and now a restaurant. They say it was built long ago and that even Mayakovsky used to read his poems there but due to all the damages during the war, it was rebuilt in 1958 in the late Stalinist style.
A perfect staircase for a kindergarten. I bet it’s in a better state a year and a half later but in August 2014 it was really impressively decadent!
No, this is not a toy house for the children to play in. This is one of those things that people born in the fridge-age ignore the purpose completely – it’s a proto-fridge 🙂 one of those icehouses (called lednik) where the food was kept in relative safety. They got massively eradicated in the city but some of them, those which were lucky to find a different use rather quickly, were kept.
And here’s the kindergarten itself, with the inevitable columns and portico in a late Stalinist fashion, already looking much less decorated than what it could appear like were it built several years earlier:
And right there in the midst of such a Stalinist realm there’s this 1934 constructivist communal kitchen – still functioning as a food production site, though now making Russian ravioli called pelmeni. I have always treated this building as a ‘modern’ one, filing it under ‘those ugly Soviet boxes’. When I learnt it was actually one of the few remnants of the constructivist boom, I started looking at it quite differently.
Back in March 2015 when I was preparing this post (well…), I wrote this: I’m actually reading a book on Avantgarde architecture in Leningrad (1920s-1930s) and I find constructivist buildings attractive and repulsive at the same time: they intrigue you by their shape and their strict functionality (a constructivist architect would never sacrifice functionality for the sake of appearance or style) and they can be quite ugly and soulless especially when all in ruins. I think I like this style for its meaningfulness, I mean, it was built to function, to be useful and used, not just to look nice. Most of the Avantgarde buildings were just projected on paper and never ever built – though some of them were truly impressive, covering all the spheres of the civil engineering, from creating an island of baths (or banya) to constructing entire districts for workers with all the infrastructure. The legacy of avantgarde and constructivism in particular is kind of hard to find, although it remains quite abundant. Some of the buildings were demolished or completely redesigned with additional floors or rich neo-classical decorations and some still function but are almost indistinguishable under the kitschy patchwork of signs and advertisements.
Adding this to my St Petersburg series.