VDNKhRussian: ВДНХ (The Exhibition of Achievements of the National EconomyRussian: Vystavka dostizheniy narodnogo hozyaystva or Выставка достижений народного хозяйства) is a unique architectural complex which nowadays serves as a popular public recreation area for Muscovites and visitors to the capital. Its territory is thoughtfully laid out and seamlessly blends both green spaces and infrastructure. The exhibition was integrated with the Botanical GardenRussian: Botanicheskiy sad or Ботанический сад and the Ostankino ParkRussian: парк «Останкино», and as a result, together they now form this vast recreational area. This is also the site of the MoskvariumRussian: Москвариум, one of the biggest indoor aquariums in Europe both in terms of its floor space and the number of sea animals contained inside. Fabulous fountains with remarkable sculptural groups are the jewel in the crown of VDNKh. All kinds of festivals, exhibitions, and fairs are held in the VDNKh pavilions as well as in the open air year round. A huge ice rink operates here in winter.
Most of the VDNKh pavilions are built in the so-called Stalinist Empire stylearchitecture of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, between 1933 and 1955. They preserve the memory of their epoch – a period of intense industrial development of the Soviet Union, the victory in the Great Patriotic WarWorld War II and the post-war recovery period. The history of VDNKh goes back to the 1930s. The first ever “All-Union Agricultural Exhibition” opened here in 1939. A display of the top achievements of the country’s working people was supposed to become a public festival and a source for pride. V. Mukhinaa prominent Soviet sculptor’s famous stainless steel sculpture ’Worker and Kolkhoz WomanRussian: Rabochiy i Kolhoznitsa or Рабочий и Колхозница’ was erected at the entrance to the exhibition. The monument received international recognition at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris.
ARCHITECTURAL MONUMENT OF THE 30-S
The site plan was thought out by V. Oltarzhevsky. In it, artistic aspects are intertwined with ideological ones – the exhibition was divided into seven sections such as “Socialist Reconstruction of Agriculture and Victory of Kolkhoza form of collective farm in the Soviet Union, kolkhozes existed along with state farms or sovkhoz System”, “Socialist Agriculture of Republics, Territories, and Regions”, “Sovkhozesa state-owned farm“, “Mechanization and Electrification of Agriculture”, “Grain and Industrial Crops”, “Socialist Livestock Breeding” and “Display of Folk Arts and Crafts and Mass Amateur Performances”.
A few buildings constructed during the time of the first exhibition have survived to this day. One is the present-day North entranceRussian: Severnyi vhod or Северный вход by architect V. Oltarzhevsky, which used to be the main point of entry into the complex. This very simple uncluttered entrance, made up of a few white arches deprived of any decor might well pass for a modern construction. Harmony of proportions, shapes, and the space around them together with lack of any other decorative elements renders this the embodiment of Constructivist artistic pursuit.
Another noteworthy building is the “Transport” pavilionRussian: pavilon «Transport» or павильон «Транспорт» (by architect S. Polupanov). Its facade is decorated with graceful columns featuring abstract orders which make the building look light and stately at the same time. The “Physical Culture and Sport” pavilionRussian: pavilon «Fizkultura i sport» or павильон «Физкультура и спорт» (by architects M. Kraevsky and F. Belostotskaya) is quite expressive, too. This rather squat building is decorated with a formidable composition of flags and a five-pointed star. Once, there stood a sculpture group depicting young athletes holding flags. Unfortunately, only the pedestal has survived to this day.
During the Great Patriotic War, the Exhibition was closed. However, it was renewed as soon as 1948 and, at the same time, radical changes in its layout and design were initiated. The process was supervised by architect A. Zhukov and sculptor E. Vuchetich (designer of the Motherland monumentRussian: Rodina-Mat’, or Родина-мать on Mamayev KurganRussian: Mamaev kurgan or Мамаев курган where the Stalingrad battleRussian: Stalingradskaya bitva or Сталинградская битва took place). The architectural style changed radically, and new buildings were constructed in the so-called Stalinist Empire style. An abundance of classicising elements, a heroic scale, ornateness, and solemnity were the features of this new architectural style. These luxurious buildings were intended to form a solemn ensemble, glorifying the winning country.
A new entrance propylaeum was erected to I. Melchakov’s design. It is a kind of triumphal arch, monumental and solemn, which sets the tone for the whole ensemble. After passing through it, visitors find themselves on the main avenue. Just ahead, they can see the Central PavilionRussian: Tsentralnyi pavilon or Центральный павильон (designed by Y. Shchuko) which dominates the landscape. It is formed by volumes (sectors) decreasing in size, topped by a shining spire, and its facades are decorated with colonnades, giving the building an air of splendour and solemnity.
Further along the avenue, VDNKh’s two main fountains are located: “Friendship of PeoplesRussian: Druzhba narodov or Дружба народов” and “Stone FlowerRussian: Kamennyi tsvetok or Каменный цветок”, both by architect K. Topuridze. The former depicts a bunch of golden grain ears, around which, as if in a mass circle dance, representatives of all the USSR republics are depicted. The principle the “Stone Flower” is built on is somewhat more complicated; its basin is bigger and its sculptural shapes depict an enormous opening flower.
On either side of the central avenue there are various pavilions, each of which deserves special attention, for example, the “Public Education” pavilionRussian: pavilon «Narodnoe obrazovanie» or павильон «Народное образование» (by architect S. Polupanov), whose slender colonnades blend harmoniously with the uncluttered arcades of its side projections. No less striking is the “Young Naturalists” pavilionRussian: pavilon «Yunyie naturalisty» or павильон «Юные натуралисты» (by architects N. Grishin and G. Vitukhin) featuring a dome, large glazed semi-rotundas, and three seemingly weightless arches on slender columns. “FeedRussian: Korma or Корма” and “Horse BreedingRussian: Konevodstvo or Коневодство” (by architect M. Titov) are near-Palladian style pavilions. Coupled with these, the “Tobacco” pavilionRussian: pavilon «Tabak» or павильон «Табак» (by V. Kondratyev), designed in a vibrant oriental style with a variety of brightly coloured decorative elements, looks very impressive.
A special place is given to the pavilions of the Soviet republics and Russian regions; take, for example, “ArmeniaRussian: Армения” with its mighty white columns (architects V. Taushkanov and R. Kliks) or “KareliaRussian: Карелия” decorated with traditional wooden carvings (by F. Rekhmukhov). Unfortunately, most of the national pavilions were destroyed during Khrushchev’s struggle against “architectural excesses”.
However, the 1960s gave rise to some changes to the VDNKh. The former “Engineering” pavilionRussian: pavilon «Mashinostroenie» or павильон «Машиностроение» was rebuilt and renamed the “Space” pavilionRussian: pavilon «Kosmos» or павильон «Космос». This enormous building with a parabolic arch and a large dome is remarkable for its expressive interior design. The spaceflight theme is further maintained on Industrial squareRussian: Promyshlennaya ploshchad’, or Промышленная площадь where there are models of the VostokRussian: Восток carrier rocket and the Yak-42Russian: Як-42 aircraft. In addition, a model of the BuranRussian: Буран space shuttle has recently been added.
In the last few years, VDNKh has been under renovation. The exhibition was integrated with the Botanical Garden and the Ostankino Park, and as a result, an immense recreational area has now been established. The pavilions are being restored; in the “Central” pavilion, the relief called “Glory to Soviet People – the Standard Bearer of PeaceRussian: Sovetskomu narodu — znamenostsu mira — Slava! or Советскому народу — знаменосцу мира — Слава!”, created by Vuchetich, was found 50 years afterwards. The Moskvarium, entertainment facilities and museums have also been opened in this space. Various exhibitions are held in the pavilions and in the open air. Convenient rental desks, bicycle paths, playgrounds for children, and sports facilities have been set up as well. There are cafes, green areas and beautiful flower beds, too. Many come to this place simply to have a stroll, meet with friends, or learn to roller skate or ice skate. There is always a festive spirit in the air here, and it’s certainly worth a visit.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com