Insights into St Petersburg

“The Opulence of the Red Line”

Avtovo

Architects Ye. Levinson and A. Grushke
12m / 40ft deep. Vault of the station supported by columns.
Theme of the station: the victory of the citizens of Leningrad over the Nazi
The neoclassical forms of the ground-level vestibule of the station convey the idea of the post-war revival of the city. The domed pavilion is modelled on the church architecture of imperial Saint Petersburg, such as St Isaac’s Cathedral or Holy Trinity Cathedral, but unlike these cathedrals, the pavilion with its Doric portico – the battered columns decorated with the attributes of light and war, torches and armoury, – looks plain and austere.

Inside the pavilion there is the round booking hall, built in the form of a Roman rotunda. Spacious and airy, the hall is filled up by light, both natural (from the narrow windows in the dome drum) and artificial (from the chandeliers and lamps fitted in the cornices). The interior of the hall imitates the atmosphere of a spring morning. There is an engraving at the dome’s base, saying: “Eternal glory to the brave defenders of Leningrad who vindicated their city!”

Pay attention to the mosaic plate, situated at the far side of the platform. It depicts the “Red Madonna”, a woman standing in front of red banners with a baby in her arms. Sixteen cut-glass columns, ornamented with five-pointed stars, armoury, wreaths and other military insignia, are the most remarkable decoration of the station and were featured on post cards.

«The plates on the columns, made of transparent glass, sparkle like crystal. However, the concrete stems of the columns are not seen through the glass. How can that be possible? To achieve this effect, the architects and the engineers of the Leningrad Art Glass Plant moved heaven and earth to find the right shade of glass, but nothing worked. With sparkling glass you cannot avoid transparency. As a result, the concrete columns would be seen through the glass. Only an optical trick of some kind could be the way out of the problem. Eventually, the physicists came up with the idea to facet the inner surface of glass instead of leaving it smooth. The light is reflected by the facets before it reaches the stem of the column, making the concrete invisible.»
From the article “Journey under the Ground”
by the chief architect of Lenmetroproject A. Sokolov

Pushkinskaya

Architects of the underground station L. Polyakov and V. Petrov
Architects of the surface vestibule A. Grushke,
A. Getskin and V. Shuvalova
57 m/187 ft deep. Vault of the station supported by pylons
Theme of the station: Russia’s great poet Alexander Pushkin
Keen rivalry between the two Russian capitals – St Petersburg and Moscow – was settled in the works of Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin who paid equal attention to the splendour of imperial St Petersburg and cosiness of patriarchal Moscow. The harmony of Russia’s great cities is reflected in the design of the station bearing Pushkin’s name. The Leningrad architect Petrov cooperated with his Moscow colleague Polyakov to make a visual tribute to the poet. By the way, Polyakov was a renowned architect of the Stalin era, the author of one of Moscow’s “seven sisters” skyscrapers.

The architects could have taken the inspiration from the Pushkin’s large body of work, but they chose a different way. Instead of decorating the station with, say, the characters of Pushkin’s works, they constructed a “poet’s corner” amidst the hustle and bustle of the metro. Pushkin is seated right by the platform looking down at the endless stream of people. The niche in the wall behind him is painted with the landscape of the Tsarskoye Selo, a residence of the Russian emperors and the hometown of the private school where Pushkin spent his youth. In his hand Pushkin holds a lilac branch that unites the wall picture and the sculpture into a single unit. The picture is painted in soft, dim colours, and it looks so delicate that you can almost feel the presence of spring flowers within the underground palace.

The surface-level pavilion of the station with its numerous arches and passageways employs the motifs of the movement of the masses. The proximity of the station to the Vitebsk railway terminal make itself felt.

«Pushkin’s genius was lucid and serene, alien to the complexity of composition. That is why the interior of the station bearing his name should be clear and harmonious. The time when the poet lived was the golden age of Russian classicism in architecture, a style as clear and expressive as Pushkin’s verses. The architects of the station managed to reproduce all that in the architecture of the underground hall, which reflects the atmosphere of Pushkin’s time.»
From the article “Journey under the Ground”
by the chief architect of Lenmetroproject A. Sokolov
Vladimir Ivanov








20th Century aArchitecture
“The St Petersburg metro: palaces for the people”
Descend to the majestic world of underground palaces