Dubrovka housing project in Moscow, 1926–1927.

Moscow Proposes Demolition of Constructivist Housing, Angering Preservationists

Preservationists are alarmed and residents are up in arms over a proposal by the city of Moscow to demolish forty-five hundred apartment buildings around the city, according to a report by Sophia Kishkovsky in the Art Newspaper. An interactive map of the former Soviet Union’s Constructivist architecture, made by the website Constructivist Project in collaboration with London’s Blue Crow Media, went online a few days before the city of Moscow published a list of apartment buildings proposed for demolition as part of a plan to relocate up to 1.6 million residents. The plan has not been well received by the populace: Thousands turned out for a demonstration against it in Moscow yesterday, some carrying signs that read “My house is my castle.”

Though the proposal has been described as an effort to upgrade residents from prefabricated mass housing built under Nikita Khrushchev, citizens are afraid it will give free rein to developers keen on taking down any older building no matter its history or relevance to architectural heritage. Preservationists have been fighting the city to save Constructivist complexes built in the early Soviet era well before Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced what would equal a $62 billion housing plan, dubbed “renovatsiya,” earlier this year.

Aleksei Yemelianov, director of the Moscow city government’s department of cultural heritage, has promised that the main Constructivist housing complexes, including Dubrovka and Usachevka, would not be touched, declaring them “fascinating cultural sites.” The Pogodinskaya complex near Usachevka was torn down last year, though, and several Constructivist buildings on Ulitsa Malaya Tulskaya are on the proposed demolition list. Residents of buildings on the list do have the chance to vote on the plan, but critics protest that the vote is set up to favor demolition.