on USSR / Russia · St Petersburg

Architectural Walks in Kolpino Part 6 – Prospekt Lenina

Kolpino, St Petersburg

This is the 6th post in the Kolpino architectural series (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5), dedicated to the formerly main street in the town, prospekt Lenina. At first I was planning to make a 7th post on Kolpino but then I merged the last two into one. So we’re going to see the Lenina, Pavlovskaya street and the district in between them, constituting quite an old-school part of Kolpino. The one where I’ve spent most of my life, actually!

Kolpino, St Petersburg

As in many cities which underwent the massive Soviet renaming campaign, the main street in Kolpino is called after Lenin. It has had a more or less fixed appearance for so many years and then recently the prewar two-storey buildings started to be gradually taken down. This post features some of them – they were still there when I was taking photos back in 2014.

Kolpino, St Petersburg

We’ll start with the Stalin-era residential buildings along Lenina – most of the built or finished / rebuilt after the war, in the early 1950s. After being revamped recently they look quite nice from the outside, all in different colors. But the gates are in a very sad condition – they look more like a ruin, actually (see first photo). The iron decorations have not survived the years well either:

Kolpino, St Petersburg

Moving farther along the road and also further in time we will find a more solid grate:

Kolpino, St Petersburg

This part of the district has always seemed to me so monumental and so cool… These late-Stalinist style residential buildings appeared in 1955-56 and are still quite flamboyant in their excessive decorative details, classical and Soviet-invented symbolic combined.

Kolpino, St Petersburg

And although there was (and still is) the most abhorred place for children, haunted with all the tortures a kids’ dentist could bring, yet I was (and still am)  attracted by its secluded courtyards and solid elements. Even now when I walk through these inner courts I feel this special spirit of the place.

Kolpino, St Petersburg

You can easily imagine an ideal family with a Father high-rank-engineer and a cultivated housewife Mother living in these decorous houses with their adorable children. An ideal life in the ideal country (Stalin-era movies filmed in Moscow spring first in memory). Loyalty and dedication guarantees you a stable life, all commodities included.

Kolpino, St Petersburg

This detail is adorable:

Kolpino, St Petersburg

And who would believe all this exquisite lavishness was built just ten years after the war ended?

Kolpino, St Petersburg

But hwy, wait just some 7 years more (1962) and here’s how the ideal Soviet home will look like in Khrushchev time, with all the excessive decorativeness banned 100%, the infamous khrushchevka:


But as we have just taken a turn into a street leading to Pavlovskaya (named so after Pavlovsk where it theoretically leads), we’re moving into the territory of the pre-war Kolpino, currently being destroyed and turned into a Swedish-style residential area.

Kolpino, St Petersburg

These minimalist in their facilities two-storey houses (no baths) dating back to 1940 have always been called the barracks and associated with a very old-school or babushka-like appearance that this particular street has. Weird details, smelly and aaaalways damp staircases, as long as I can remember these houses looked like something from the Peter the Great’s era!

Kolpino, St Petersburg

A door has grown shorter as it sank into the ground, now conveniently adapted to an average babushka’s height:

Kolpino, St Petersburg

And now we’re taking a leap into the brutal 80s with the Soviet modernism style which can be called urban brutalism or something. This is a Brezhnev era cinema hall built in 1984. The irony of architectural choice: the punkish brutal red-brick style chosen for the cinema hall commemorating the soldiers who courageously defended the city against the Nazi during the Siege of Leningrad. Its name Podvig, the Feat, was voted for by the citizens.

Kolpino, St Petersburg

You can’t see it on my photos but there’s actually a whole in the middle of the building with a staircase leading to the entrance (which I climb during my morning run, impersonating Rocky). And yes, until very recently they hand-painted the film posters there:

Kolpino, St Petersburg

They say the foundation for the cinema hall appeared already in 1977 but then the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games put the construction on hold. Ironically, the architect used to be St Petersburg chief architect and is the head of the company responsible for all the Olympic Games construction.

Wall Painting 'War' at Podvig cinema hall in Kolpino

Once again on this blog, the wall paintings inside the cinema hall, war & victory-themed. It’s weird but during all the years that I was a quite loyal customer of this cinema hall, I paid a very limited attention to these pieces of art.

Wall Painting 'Salute' at Podvig cinema hall in Kolpino

Hm, just remembered, the walls inside were decorated with seashells (!) which we would try to ‘scoop’ out. Oh those after-school cinema shows with Titanic, Notting Hill and whatnot which sometimes almost failed to happen for the lack of cinema-goers! I remember we had to fish out an extra – eventually even two, the third and fourth – person so that they would show us some movie with George Clooney 🙂

Thank you for reading my blog!

Adding this to my St Petersburg series.


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