I fell in love with the Shukhov Tower through the work of photographer Alexander Rodchenko
. This tower is the most emblematic monument of constructivism
, an artistic movement from the Soviet period that influenced the construction of many buildings. The tower is a living witness to a part of Russian history.
We do not really understand the Ministry of Communications' reasoning. First, the reports of several independent experts
show that there is no immediate risk of the tower's collapse. And even if that were to happen, it would collapse in on itself, which would limit the potential damage to nearby buildings. Finally, the tower never actually benefited from the 135-million-ruble
(2.7 million euros) budget allocated for its restoration in 2011— not even a lick of anticorrosive paint was applied. We don’t know where the money went! I think the Ministry just wants to get rid of a monument that doesn’t bring in much revenue.
Muscovites protested on March 27 against the tower’s demolition. The white structure on the right shows what the tower might look like once rebuilt. Photo by Natalia Melikova.
"It’s as if you moved the Eiffel Tower from Paris to Marseille!”
It's basically impossible to completely dismantle a 10,000-piece tower and then build it back up to create an identical tower, especially because the tower’s architect did not leave any blueprints. It would just be a replica! Moreover, moving a monument that was conceived for a specific urban space is simply absurd from an architectural point of view. It’s as if you moved the Eiffel Tower from Paris to Marseille! More than anything, we are worried that the tower will be dismantled and then never rebuilt.
There are other recent examples of Moscow buildings that should have been renovated but instead were left to rot. Narkomfin
, a residential building that was designed for communal life during the Soviet era, has been left to crumble for the past few decades. Nothing has been done to prevent this.
The debate around the tower shows that Russia does not have any clear policy in terms of restoring its cultural heritage. And yet, when I see the enthusiasm on social media to help save the tower, as well as the people who take it upon themselves to organise guided tours and to raise awareness, I realise that Muscovites are far more interested in preserving their heritage than our government is.