Libmonster ID: BY-1594
Author(s) of the publication: Tamara GEIDOR

by Tamara GEIDOR, Head of the Department of History of Russian Architecture, State Museum of Architecture named after A. Shchusev (Moscow)

After Bolsheviks took power in 1917, construction of churches in Russia was suspended or, to be more exact, terminated, which led to the loss of architectural traditions and their continuity. Church architecture revived only in the late 1980s and turned into a significant event of national culture. This was stimulated by the Law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations" adopted in 1997 by the RF Government. The process is most clearly seen on the example of Moscow architecture.

Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Originally constructed in 1837-1883, architect Konstantin Ton. It was blown up in 1931, rebuilt in the 1990s.

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For the past two decades more than 50 Orthodox Churches and chapels, a number of structures for divine services of other confessions were built in our capital. Church complexes comprising buildings for various religious activities became rather widespread. Sometimes, there appear additional structures like clergy houses, Sunday schools, etc., under the already existing churches.

The architectural and construction process under consideration has two main directions: reconstruction of facilities demolished in the period of theomachy, and designing of new ones. The first line is a kind of rehabilitation of the idea of state religion, a symbol of resurrection of Russian Christian culture and at the same time rebirth of lost traditions by way of retrieval of the established canons. Very often many new structures repeat the demolished original buildings on the basis of the author's or measurement drawings, field outlines and preserved original fragments. For example, the grand Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Volkhonka street, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan in the Red Square, the

* The clergy of a parish--body of appointed ministers of Christian church.--Ed.

Chapel of the Icon of Iverskaya Mother of God near the Voskresenskiye Gates, and the Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker near the Solomennaya Storozhka reconstructed in the 1990s.

It has become a common practice to mark the place where once was a sanctuary and to build there a chapel (as, for example, at the corner of Petrovka Street and Stoleshnikov Lane, where a chapel was built to commemorate the demolished Church of the Nativity of the Virgin) or a memorial sign, as, for example, near the Arbat Gates, where once was the Church of St. Princes Boris and Gleb (a new church, in the classical style, has been recently built there). Such practice was rather characteristic for the late 1980s-1990s. It is worth mentioning that this noble tradition was initiated and then introduced nationwide by the Russian Fund of Architectural Heritage named after A. Rublyov.

The second line of development of modern church architecture--construction of new buildings--has become an element of national construction policy. As distinct from other countries where church architecture was developing continuously and absorbed all artistic changes, we are in a difficult situation with modern ar-

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chitects lacking experience. It is not by chance that in the 1990s, a lot of design projects were proposed failing to address the main idea--symbolism of the structure, and sacred nature of the church building. The authors strived to put emphasis on self-expression, original forms, bright images, often failing to take the established regularities into account. Today, two decades after commencement of the church construction revival, there are already buildings characterized by various layouts, design and composition, which enables us to make some conclusions relating to the style solutions of modern church architecture.

Speaking of wooden architecture (its heyday fell on the late 1990s), ancient samples are usually reconstructed rather accurately. Shed-like churches with two-, four- or eight- pitched roofs, altar annexes, refectory (western part of the building often separated from the central one by a blind wall) and a bell-tower are most widespread, followed by round basement chapels, i.e. "eight edge" chapels (for example, the Chapel of the Annunciation of Our Lady in Babushkino, the Chapel

*Shed--the simplest wooden structure, constructed of round logs put one on another.--Ed.

of Sergius of Radonezh in the Losiny Ostrov), five-sided chapels (of St. Nicholas in Otradnoye, the Chapel of the Icon of the Mother of God "Assuage My Sorrows" in Medvedkovo, and the Chapel of St. Andrew the Apostle in Lyublino, etc).

As modern urban development requires higher buildings, among present-day wooden churches, multi-tiered hipped roof structures look most natural. For example, Church of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God in Novogorsk (Khimki, Moscow Region), the Church of Vladimir, metropolitan of Kiev, in Sviblovo, the Church of Alexei, metropolitan of Moscow, in Northern Medvedkovo. The last one is cruciform--vosmerik on a chetverik, with a hipped roof, annexes in the form of two-tiered barrels (semi-cylinders with a high pointed roof)-

Stone architecture of the late 1990s-early 2000s is more diverse as compared with wooden structures. Most common layout solutions are traditional pillarless churches (for example, Church of the Life-Giving Trinity on Borisovskiye Prudy) crowned with one or more hipped roofs or one, three or five cupolas. Volumetric and spatial composition and decor of facades are often eclectic or sometimes represent a stylized design typical of Novgorod,

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Pskov, Vladimir, or early Moscow medieval schools*. For example, the author of the Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of God "Assuage My Sorrows" in Maryino was rather close to the traditions of the last two schools.

Moreover, we often deal with unconcealed historical replicas, such as the Church of Resurrection of Christ in Sheremetyevo repeating the church of the same name in Sokolniki (1909-1913). The Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in Guryanov Street is an exact analog of religious buildings in the Moscow Region (1912) in the neo-Russian, or Modern style**, constructed in honor of St. Seraphim of Sarov in the estate of Fedino and in the Serafimo-Znamensky monastery.

However, a majority of such buildings are characterized by a stylistic mixture of historical and artistic

See: V. Darkevich, "Republic on the Volkhov", Science in Russia, No. 5. 1998; O. Bazanova, "Sacred Sites of the Land of Vladimir", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2005; T. Geidor, "Masterpieces That Endure", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2009; O. Bazanova, "St. Trinity House", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2010.-Ed.

** See: T. Geidor, "Russian Architecture of the Silver Age", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2009--Ed.

trends, i.e. use of specific decorative forms (Church of St. Tikhon in the Donskoi Monastery, Chapel of St. Sergius of Radonezh at Moskvich Motor-Car Factory, etc.), or "balanced" use of elements typical of a number of architectural styles, such as Cathedrals of Resurrection of Christ and of Saints New Martyrs and Confessors in Butovo, powerful icons of the Mother of God in Northern Chertanovo. The volumetric and spatial composition of the latter represents a transformed image of multi-tent ancient Russian churches of the 16th-17th centuries.

In search of an integral artistic image, architects widely use gables* (semicircular or keel-shaped end of a wall) as a dominating motif and a symbol of ancient Russian religious architecture (11th-17th centuries). At present, they are treated as the main element to generate new artistic devices and maintain a link with the national traditions. The first structures built in such manner appeared in the 1990s--the Church of St. George the Victorious on Poklonnaya Gora in honor of the victory

*Gable--a semicircular or keel-shaped end of an outer wall repeating the outline of the roof--Ed.

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of our country in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 (although the volumetric composition and architectural forms of the building reflect efforts to find a new artistic image) and the Chapel of St. Nicholas under Mental Hospital No. 1 named after N. Alexeyev (Zagorodnoye Highway).

Among trilobate buildings (facades with gables) typical of the architecture of Novgorod and Pskov of the 13th-15th centuries, one can name small cathedrals of Our Lady of Kazan in the Kaluzhskaya Square and of St. Olga behind Serpukhovskiye gates. There are many cubic structures with adjoining forechurches or exedrae (semicircular deep niches) crowned with a cupola on a low round or faceted drum clearly resembling the Empire style* or neo-classicism of the 19th century (Chapel of the Icon of the Joy of All Who Sorrow at the Mitino cemetery, etc.).

Bell-towers are characterized by a great variety of architectural forms and locations. They may be detached, put on the cathedral or adjoining it (like the Cathedral of the Martyr Nicholas in Otradnoye), in the form of an arc or tiered construction (Church of the Icon of Our Lady "Life-Giving Spring" in Tsaritsyno). In general, in modern architecture this phenomenon can be referred to eclecticism, a basis of development of all new architectural styles.

See: Z. Zolotnitskaya, "Lofty Simplicity and Dignity", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2009.-Ed.

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From among recently constructed religious buildings of various styles one can single out structures of non-canonical look. First of all, it is the Church of Saint Seraphim of Sarov and Pious Princess Anna Kashinskaya at the Donskoi cemetery built in 1902-1910 and reconstructed in the 1990s. The original church had an unconventional form (stretched out parallelepiped) due to three tiers of crypts for 450 burials arranged in the ground floor. In 1920-1927, the church was rebuilt in the functional style* to accommodate the first Moscow crematorium. When reconstructed in the 1990s, a low tetrahedral tent erected in the central inner part of the church (at the intersection of longitudinal and diametrical axes, where side-altars are located), and a single-tiered hipped roof bell-tower above the western portal were added.

The Golgotha Baptist Church in Bibirevo looks even more unusual. Its outer appearance is absolutely unconventional: the eastern orientation of the altar is altered--the building, in the form of a cube, is located so that the cut corner is turned to the east, and a big window, through which light falls on the main altar, there is no apse, and a gallery is connecting the cathedral and an auxiliary building. In a word, the only thing suggesting the purpose of the building is a cross on its roof.

Today, there is a number of expert teams specializing in church architecture. The workshops of the Center of Architecture and Arts under the Moscow Patriarchate, the Partnership of Restorers of the Patriarchal Center of Architecture and Restoration under the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius, Holy Danilov Monastery, Mosproekt-2

See: M. Kostyuk, "Russian Avant-Garde Architecture", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2010.-Ed.

are actively functioning in Moscow and the region. Each team follows its own principles in designing artistic objects. The first team is inclined to the Russian-Byzantine style of the second half of the 19th century, the second one--to the traditions of Vladimir and Suzdal, Novgorod and Pskov schools of the 12th-14th centuries and their interpretation in the neo-Russian style of the early 20th century, the third one--to the cathedrals of the 15th-16th centuries. Besides, there is a newly established typological classification of such buildings according to their purpose: a cathedral, a parish church, a chapel, a family church, a memorial token instead of the demolished building.

As for the modern Moslem religious structures, their compositional layouts are rather conventional. Modern approach to their forms and volumetric-spatial structures shows in accentuated laconism, a strict, not to say brutal silhouette, which makes their link with the urban environment quite harmonious. The Memorial Mosque on Poklonnaya Gora (1997), making part of a complex dedicated to the victory of our country in the Great Patriotic War, has an interesting design solution. It embodies traditions of various architectural schools of the Mohammedan East, especially Tatar, Uzbek and Caucasian ones. The layout of the building represents an octagonal star crowned with a corrugated dome.

The main cathedral of the residence of the Patriarch's exarch (in Trifonovskaya Street), head of Novo-Nakhichevanskaya and Russian eparchies of the Armenian Apostolic Church, has a conventional form typical of ancient religious buildings: the centric volume, thick base of the building, drum crowned with a tent, carved

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ornamental pieces on the facade. However, the whole composition with accentuated faceted forms reflects contemporary architectural interpretation of national stylistics. A number of different purpose premises (exhibition rooms, libraries, canteens for church-goers, and even parking) in the stylobate is also a phenomenon, which meets present-day requirements.

The most advanced approach of contemporary architects to the artistic solution of architectural compositions of cathedrals is embodied in the recently constructed Moscow synagogues--neo-modernist and open functional structures reflecting postindustrial aesthetics. Probably, this has become possible of meetings as the rules of organization of the inner space of the Judaic House is not closely linked with such rigid canonical requirements of its outer appearance as in Christian and Moslem religious buildings.

This is particularly true of the synagogue in Bolshaya Bronnaya Str., whose architectural forms are rather unusual. The purpose of this building is manifested only in its religious symbols, which, however, do not dominate in the whole volumetric-spatial composition: the six-pointed Star of Judah is an element of the floor in the chapel, it makes up the form of the glass roof and is plaited in the design of the fence, while the window grid of the rounded corner facade represents a stylized menorah (seven-branched candlestick). There is a spacious room for festive prayers and festivities, the canteen for priests and students of yeshiva (higher religious educational establishment), a kosher wine store (selling drinks permitted by the religion), a conference-hall and a kosher restaurant in the tower, offices of charity organizations, etc.

The overall appearance of the cathedral more than others built of late, follows principles of the modern stylistic trend named hi-tech*. There is another thing worth mentioning: this House of Meetings, belonging to the religious community of Lubavich Jews "Agudas Hasidei", incorporates the old synagogue opened in 1883 by the banker Lazar Polyakov in the territory of his estate (in 1952 its facade was reconstructed in the Stalinist classical style**).

In the late 1990s, the Toleration and Civil Accord foundation constructed the church complex of three religions--The Small Jerusalem in Otradnoye, composed of the orthodox Church of the Reverend Nicholas, the Church of Panteleimon the Healer built in the traditions of the ancient Russian architecture of the 11th-12th centuries, the synagogue in the modern brutal style and the mosque Yardem with two minarets constructed like those built in Central Asia and Iran. This architectural ensemble has one distinctive feature--free location of churches, which have their own sacral zones and at the same time are perceived as a unit.

*Hi-tech--a style in architecture and design, widely spread in the 1980s, characterized by use of high technologies in designing and construction, wide use of glass, plastic, metal, straight lines and simple decor elements, high pragmatism in space planning, etc.--Ed.

** See: A. Firsova, "The Empire Style in Soviet Architecture", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2010.-Ed.


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