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Imagine Moscow. Architecture, propaganda and revolution

Marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution, the Design Museum of London presented from 15 March to 4 June 2017 an exhibition that explored the idealistic vision of the Soviet capital by a generation of bold architects in the 1920s and early 30s.

Focusing on six unbuilt architectural landmarks located near Moscow’s Red Square—such as the Palace of the Soviets, planned to be the world’s tallest building, and Cloud Iron, a network of horizontal skyscrapers—, “Imagine Moscow” showed how these schemes reflected changes in everyday life and society following the October Revolution.

Large-scale architectural plans, models and rarely seen drawings were placed alongside propaganda posters, textiles, porcelain and magazines of the time, contextualising the transformation of a city re-born as the new capital of the USSR and the international centre of socialism.

In the search of a new future, architects aimed to reinterpret the old idea of the city through new symbolism, new monuments and new institutions, creating factories, theatres, communal housing and ministries. These dream-like projects suggest an alternative reality for a series of sites around the city, offering a unique insight into the culture of their time. Each project introduces a theme relevant to life and ideology in the Soviet Union: industrialisation, urban planning, aviation, communication, communal living and recreation.

Alongside the six unbuilt architectural case studies, the exhibition featured a dedicated room to the geographical and ideological centre of this new Moscow: the Lenin Mausoleum, a work of the architect Aleksey Schusev.


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