Deutsch Ðóññêèé The Shukhov Tower Foundation


The radio tower in Shabolovka street in Moscow was built in 1922 according to the project of the Russian scientist-engineer-architect Vladimir Grigorievich Shukhov. At the time of its construction the tower was an absolutely innovative structure in the world both in terms of its architectural and engineering solutions.

In Russia and all over the world the Shukhov tower is acknowledged as one of the major and most striking samples of the Russian avant-garde and examples of the High Tech architecture. The tower has a status of the cultural heritage monument of a regional (Moscow) significance.

The International scientific conference “Heritage at Risk. Preservation of the XX century architecture and World heritage” mentioned the Shukhov radio tower in its declaration among seven architectural masterpieces of the Russian avant-garde recommended for inclusion in the list of the UNESCO World heritage.

During the tower life the anticorrosive painting of its elements was done just three times. The attempt of the tower restoration in 1973 with a view to harden its strength by welded elements fixed on angle bars by bolts  to Shukhov’s rivet load carrying lattice-shell was acknowledged by the international experts as a barbarity towards the unique structure. The strengthening of the tower elements trespassed against the major principle laid down by Shukhov during its designing – a certain amount of the freedom of movement and self-compensation against the external loads. The movable base was encased in concrete, and that disturbed Shukhov’s kinematic scheme of the structure.

The Shukhov radio tower in MoscowThe Shukhov radio tower in Moscow

The tower requires a comprehensive expert examination of the metal structure corrosion and a modern system of anticorrosive protection that involves a permanent electronic monitoring of the current state.

In 2003, the Russian Federation State Duma adopted resolution No. ¹ 4415-III on V.G. Shukhov’s heritage which, in particular, states: “It appears of prime importance to preserve the engineering structures built according to V.G. Shukhov’s projects in Moscow and other cities of Russia and to take necessary actions for this purpose”.

On March 13, 2009 the prime-minister of the Russian Federation favored the initiative of the head of the Ministry of Communications and Media on the commencement of restoration work on the first Shukhov’s TV tower in Shabolovka street.

In 2011, The Russian Government appropriated 135 million rubles from the federal budget on the tower restoration, but practically no work was done!

Over the last 25 years the tower has never been painted!

In early 2014, the Ministry of Communications and Media informed that the structure had passed from the pre-accident condition into the condition of sequential destruction with metal parts regularly falling out, and as an option of settling the problem proposed to disassemble the tower in order to reconstruct it at another place. In response to that the Ministry of culture reminded the Department of cultural heritage of the city of Moscow and the Ministry of Communications and Media of obligations regarding the preservation of the monument. In its turn, the Central research and design institute for construction metal structure named after N.P. Melnikov, the lead Russian institute on metal structures, noted that the accident risk of the Shukhov tower was fairly exaggerated and the TV tower posed no danger for the neighboring buildings and city residents.

As many as the group of the leading foreign architects and experts, including Rem Koolhaas, Kengo Kuma, Tadao Ando, Elizabeth Diller, Thom Mayne, Norman Foster, Odile Decq voiced objections to the disassembly and re-location of the Shukhov tower and wrote an open letter to the President of Russia with a request to preserve the radio tower.

All the leading Russian architects, workers of culture and art, residents of Moscow and citizens of Russia in their letters and addresses to the President and Government of Russia also requested to take any and all actions for the preservation of this unique monument of culture and for its inclusion in the list of the UNESCO World heritage.

Under the pressure of consolidated public opinion the Government eventually made the decision not to dismantle the tower. On July 3, an announcement appeared on the Ministry of culture website that the Ministry of Communications and Media at its own expense would have to carry out the accident-prevention measures for the protection of the tower.

Unfortunately, the Ministry of Communications and Media has still not taken any specific actions for the accident-preventive and anticorrosive protection of the tower and insists on its full disassembly, or put it otherwise, on its demolition. The destruction of the unique monument of world culture continues, intentionally or unintentionally.

The Government of Moscow, Government of Russia and President of Russia urgently need to decide the question of transferring the unique object of world cultural heritage to the new owner – the city of Moscow – and of carrying out in 2015 the practical top-priority work on the mothballing, and in the future – on the full scientific restoration of the Shukhov radio tower in Moscow.

Vladimir Shukhov
Chairman, DOCOMOMO Russia

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