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26.08.2011 “Russian heritage” foundation
28.03.2011 Meeting Odile Decq and Vladimir Shukhov
The Shukhov tower may not survive restoration on a leftover principle. In the coming three years the federal budget will allocate 135 million Rubles on the restoration of the renowned radio tower in Shabolovka. Natalia Davydova, observer of the “Izvestiya” newspaper has met up with Vladimir Fyodorovich Shukhov, President of the “Shukhov tower” Foundation.
Izvestiya: It has been decided to allocate 135 million Rubles on the restoration of the tower. Why exactly so much?
Vladimir Shukhov: It’s a riddle for us. The Foundation insisted that it was necessary to carry out an expertise first and then on its basis to define how much money the restoration of the tower would need. But the owner of the tower – the federal state unitary enterprise “Russian television and broadcasting network” (FSUE “RTRS”) – has requested a certain abstract amount.
Izvestiya: Has the structural assessment ever been done for the tower?
Shukhov: In the opinion of the specialists of the Melnikov TsNIIPSK (top institute in Russia for the inspection and expertise of steel constructions – “Izvestiya”), which has been monitoring the tower during its whole lifetime, the state is deplorable, there are major defects and deep corrosion of the riveted connections. Far and by, serious works are needed. Moskomnasledie by its own efforts has also made a detailed inspection of the tower. The conclusion — the tower needs repair, otherwise the masterpiece of architecture will be lost or its restoration will cost several times more. And in accordance with the findings of the expert examination, which was done on order of the owner in the Kucherenko NII for the building structures, there is no need in serious works – it is just enough to protect it from corrosion and to paint.
Our Foundation insists that the expertise should be done in accordance with the foreign practice — with laser scanning and mathematic modeling of deformations and rate of strain for the separate units and elements. The point is that later the observation platforms, excessive strengthening rings were welded to the original structure. These were not provided for by the Shukhov project and should be stripped away from the tower. The necessity of expertise and restoration of the tower in the original appearance is supported by the renowned British architect Lord Norman Foster and quite a number of the well-known European scientists.
Izvestiya: So, it must be expensive, probably?
Shukhov: Yes, of course. But if it is not done, it is impossible to develop the right project of restoration. It is promised that out of 135 million Rubles 10,5 million will be allocated in 2011. This will be not enough either for the expertise or the project. Though part of the specialists, including the foreign ones, are ready and willing to work practically free of charge.
Izvestiya: Can this tower bring income or at least pay for its maintenance in principle?
Shukhov: The tower of engineer Eiffel brings big profit. But it is difficult to compare these facilities. One cannot allow a big flow of visitors on the Shukhov tower, as it is done on the Eiffel tower. But under the tower it is possible, for example, to set up a café under the glass cupola, from where all its laced structure will be perfectly seen. The fantastic view on the tower opens from the very center of the foundation.
We propose to create on the near-by territory a big recreational zone with a museum. And the architect's sketch exists already: the museum is located underground, above – a big water area, in which the tower will be mirrored very beautifully, around the tower in the form of a square – buildings a la lattice shells of Shukhov. It could be a very picturesque place. Such cultural center can bring profit; concert areas, educatory center could function there. For a proper owner this tower could become a bonanza. But to implement this project one needs a decree of the Russian Government.
The Shukhov tower is a remarkable Russian brand. Nowadays various facilities – buildings, stadiums, towers – which structures feature Shukhov’s lattice shells, are built around the world. Last year the construction of the 610-meter lattice television tower in Guangzhou was completed and now it is the biggest TV tower in the world. Truth is that Shukhov designed his towers with a sliding rule and now everybody designs with computers. But the patents are Shukhov’s.
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