Dzerzhinskaya over the years

29.08.2012, 02:10
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Kharkiv’s largest plaza was designed by Viktor Trotsenko and constructed between 1929-1934. Renamed Freedom plaza (Ploshchad Svobody) in 1996, it is one of the giant squares visited by Owen Hatherley in Across the plaza:

“Gosprom – its typically Bolshevik acronym is a contraction of ‘House of State Industry’ –was the result of a competition proposed by Polish Soviet Commissar and former head of the Cheka, Felix Dzherzhinsky, to give the city a governmental complex befitting the capital of Ukraine. For this is what Kharkov was at the time – as an industrial, loyally Bolshevik city, it had gained preferment over untrustworthy, nationalist Kiev. Since Kharkov lacked the buildings to serve as a capital of any kind, this square’s inception was designed to beef up this provincial town, to make it into a modern, Soviet and bureaucratic centre. Gosprom had of necessity, then, to look like the central building of a capital city, the sort of centrifugal Stadtkrone that dreamers such as Bruno Taut had speculated about, and to incarnate some sort of specifically Soviet and socialist value system, as opposed to Kiev’s eclecticism and neoclassicism. The chosen site was an area of unused land – a tabula rasa – around Kharkov University. The outline plan for the square, which had Dzherzhinsky’s support, was designed in 1925 by the young architect Viktor Trotsenko, and combined the axial symmetries expected of a prominent government building with something more avant-garde.”

I wanted to look at some photographs after reading that. Let’s start with some views of the Department of Industry and Planning (Gosprom) buildings and Dzerzhinskaya Square under construction, taken by Charles Dedoyard in 1932 on a tour organized by André Bloc for L’Architecture d’aujourd’hui:

Here’s another, about ten years later, during the German occupation:

The Gosprom buildings are so photogenic that there’s little to be found on the square itself. Unsurprisingly, Streetview does it best in capturing some sense of the scale. This is taken from the squarish eastern end, looking towards the circle:

I’m curious if anything regularly goes on there. Does anybody know? Weekend markets? Drunken car races? Help us out @strelkapress.