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Project title: “Belyayevo Forever� Theme: The Intangible Heritage Application for the inclusion of Belyayevo (Moscow, Russia) in the World Heritage Tentative List as a new type of historic heritage

“Belyayevo Forever” – The Intangible Heritage Kuba Snopek

Studio Preservation Next Director: Rem Koolhaas Supervisors: Anastassia Smirnova, Nikita Tokarev

Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design 2011 © Educational Program 2010-2011

Special thanks to all people, who were influencial to my project – introduced me to Russian culture, helped to understand the complexity of Moscow Conceptualism, acquainted with the Soviet architecture and were helping me to develop my ideas: Kirill Asse, Boris Groys, Marina Khrustaleva, Anatoly Kovalev, Katya Melnikova, Natalia Nikitin, Sergey Nikitin, Dmitri Ozerkov, Vladimir Paperny, Dasha Paramonova, Andrey Prigov, Sergey Sitar, Mikhail Smetana, Mikhail Yampolsky, Dmitri Zadorin

Table of contents* Introduction......................................................


1. Identification of property...................................... 11 2. Description.................................................... 13 a. Description of property..................................... 14 b. History and development..................................... 30 3.Justification for inscription.................................... 57 a. Proposed criteria and justification.......................... 58 b. Proposed statement of outstanding universal value........... 78 c. Integrity and authenticity.................................. 81 d. Comparative analysis........................................ 82 4.State of conservation and factors affecting the property........ 84 5.Protection and management....................................... 85 Appendix: how to preserve Belyayevo............................... 87

* The whole structure of the book is following the “Format for the nomination of properties for the inscription on the World Heritage List�, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, World Heritage Centre 2008

Introduction My six-month long research at the Strelka Institute in Moscow was dedicated to preservation of mass produced residential architecture of the late modernism. In the mid-twentieth century, thanks to industrialization and modernization, a massive construction of large residential blocks started. Not only in Russia, but in the whole world, houses, general spatial layouts, plans of districts started following the same architectural and urban planning principles and, as a result, became very similar. Cities have been rapidly growing, augmented with zones of new architectural landscape of a very generic nature. Now, when this architecture reaches the threshold of 50 years, there arises a question whether it deserves to be preserved. If yes, then in what situations? This new architecture needs a new approach to preservation – the old methods focused on preserving uniqueness tend to fail in these new circumstances. From the very beginning, I had an assumption that the intangible values (the existing culture) may combine with the visible shell (architecture as such) and create a nice blend providing us with a sufficient reason for its preservation. The architecture of the late modernism is very interesting for architects, yet underestimated by the general public. Because of its repetitive nature 7

and crude esthetics it is often found boring, ugly or simply uninteresting. Could the cultural content influence the architectural surroundings and make them more attractive to the common people? Would mating cultural content with architecture representing it make the latter more valuable? During my investigation, I have visited several neighborhoods of Moscow, where architecture was not enough to attract attention, but where there is a potential of architecture and its intangible content reinforcing each other. In the case of Russia, it was mostly the literati and poets who would create this kind of added value. At the end, I decided to take a closer look at Belyayevo – a typical residential block (lit. “sleeping district”) in the south of Moscow, which happened to be the home to many artists representing the movement of Moscow Conceptualism. It was tempting to take a closer look at a place displaying such a contrast between a generic architectural appearance (the crude outer “shell”) and sophisticated artistic content. I am a foreigner and an architect. During the research, I always looked at both Russia and the sphere of art from the standpoint of an outsider. And, once I have chosen this topic of research, I was immediately confronted with Russian reality, culture, art and language.

In order to fully understand the object of my investigation, I needed help from all imaginable quarters. Researching the connection between late modernist architecture in the USSR and the Moscow Conceptualism requires seeing the big picture – being aware of historical and cultural conditions, being familiar with local art, understanding Soviet and Russian architecture. Meetings with local architects were useful for understanding both an architect’s position in the Russia of today and the conditions of his/her work in the times of the USSR. It also helped me comprehend the complexity of the Soviet architectural heritage. Experts in the sphere of art and culture enabled me to penetrate into the world of Moscow Conceptualism and understand what lay behind this art. Finally, my Russian friends introduced me to their culture, acquainted me with their everyday life. They advised me on which movies to see, what exhibitions to visit or what literature to read. It had also required a great effort on my part: I had to learn Russian.

After collecting and analyzing this huge amount of information, I became sure that the initial assumption was right: there is a bilateral connection between modernist architecture and conceptual art. The architectural environment considered unattractive and even hostile actually turned out to be a cornucopia of ideas for art. The artists, on the other hand, did a lot to reassess the modern architecture when it was in total cultural neglect. The creation of this booklet – which is an attempt to apply for the inclusion of Belyayevo into the UNESCO World Heritage List on the basis of the assumption that the value of the place resides in the blending of architecture, art and something less definable but still important – was the setting of a new course. The fact that it had never been done before was a real challenge. The “Application for a Mixture of Tangible and Intangible Values” does not exist; those two types of values were always understood by the UNESCO as two separate things. This book is my attempt to adjust the existing UNESCO World Heritage application to the new situation when they interact and blend with one another.


The aim of my research was to discover if there is a link between the visible shell (architecture) and intangible values (the existing culture). On this painting of Erik Bulatov the letters are confusingly similar to the panorama of a Soviet sleeping district


Borders of the property Buffer zone

Ulitsa O

bruchev a

1 – House of Dmitri Prigov 2 – Place of the Bulldozer Exhibition kt 3 – CinemasVityaz pe o r 4 – South-Eastern part of Belyayevo yp i













Biitsevskiy Lesopark

pol’ skiy




Sev asto





a ul


Troparevskiy Lesopark

Prof s


n Le



1. Identification of the Property 1.a. Country

Russian Federation

1.b. State, Province or Region


1.c. Name of Property


1.d. Geographical coordinates to the nearest second

55° 39’ 17”N 37° 31’ 20”E 55° 38’ 30”N 37° 33’ 4”E 55° 37’ 53”N 37° 32’ 13”E 55° 38’ 25”N 37° 30’ 11”E

1.e Maps and plans showing the nominated property and proposed buffer zone

opposite page

1.f. Area of proposed property and proposed buffer zone



2. Description 2.a Description of Property

“This section should begin with a description of the nominated property at the date of nomination. It should refer to all the significant features of the property. In the case of a cultural property this section will include a description of whatever elements make the property culturally significant.[...]”*

2.b History and Development

“Describe how the property has reached its present form and condition and the significant changes that it has undergone, including recent conservation history This should include some account of construction phases in the case of monuments, sites, buildings or groups of buildings. Where there have been major changes, demolitions or rebuilding since completion they should also be described.[...]”*

* “Format for the nomination of properties for the inscription on the World Heritage List”, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, World Heritage Centre 2008, p.103


2.a Description of Property Basic information Belyayevo is a large residential district in the south-western part of Moscow. It is located between the third and the fourth communication rings, about 15 km from the city center. It is connected with the central zone of Moscow by the subway (“Metro”), and two major thoroughfares (Leninskiy Prospect and Profsoyuznaya Street). Belyayevo covers the area of about 400 hectares, housing being its primary function. Most of the district is occupied with buildings of the original 1960s project. Later on, many buildings were added. Those additions can be divided into two groups: the ones from the times of the USSR, and those which were constructed after its collapse. Because of totally different social and economic conditions before and after the Perestroika[1], their typologies vary. Above: Belyayevo (yellow square) on a scheme by Yakov Belapolski [1] Perestroika (literally: “Reconstructing”) – a political movement within the Communist Party of the USSR, being an attempt to reconstruct the Soviet economic and political system. It led to the dissolution of the USSR and the end of the Cold War

Opposite page: situation of Belyayevo in the city, Moscow General Plan, 1971


Moscow Center

Garden Ring

Leninsky Prospekt




Left: general scheme of Belyayevo: 4 sub-districts, 12 micro-districts and greenery joining them together Opposite page: different spatial organizations of the sub-districts. Composition of the North-Western quarter (top) is based on optimal distances. Southern quarters (middle and bottom) are composed around the orchard and the ponds


The original project According to the original project of Yakov Belapolski[2], an almost square site of Belyayevo was divided into 4 nearly equal sub-districts (about 100 hectares each). Each of them was subdivided into 3 micro-districts. This hierarchy was created to assure the optimum distribution of public facilities (schools, kindergartens, etc.) and residential zones. All the sub- and micro-districts were connected with vast green zones. An enormous green belt equipped with sports and leisure facilities was designed on the east-west axis, parallel to the Miklukho‐ Maklaya Street. A green pedestrian ring was designed to connect all 12 micro-districts with each other and with the public transport. All this system was connected with the large green areas located east of Belyayevo (the Bitsevskiy Lesopark, i.e., “Forest-Park”). The 12 micro-districts were designed each in a different way. Each of them has a different spatial composition, depending on specific local conditions. The topography of Belyayevo in its northern and southern part differs. Two northern sub-districts are rather flat, whereas, in the southern part, the relief is more diverse. Low hills lie near ponds and an old orchard, which had been there before the district was constructed.

[2] Yakov Belapolski (1916, Kiev – 1993, Moscow) – an influencial Soviet Architect, author of sculptures (i.e. “Motherland, Volgograd, 1967, Lenin’s Prize 1970), significant public buildings (libraries, universities), urban plans (South-Western district of Moscow, 1952-1966)


Half a century after the construction, Belyayevo is covered with greenery – at least during the warm seasons. The main public spaces in the southern part – the orchard in the west and the ponds in the east – seem to be perfectly working public spaces. Full of people, well maintained, they seem to be today’s biggest highlights in Belyayevo. The open spaces of the ponds also reveal the architectural panorama that is obscured by trees in other spots. It is an abstract, rhythmic composition of big and simple shapes of buildings interspersed with trees and lawns. The color of the houses makes the impression of abstraction even stronger – their totally white façades make them look more like huge architectural models than actual buildings.


Belyayevo in the summer


American satellite map from 1979. Parts of the original project which were not built are marked with red; the �green belt�, also never finished, is marked with green


Contemporary satellite map. New construction on the sites which were meant to be empty marked with red; new buildings which replaced the old ones marked with orange


Later changes Already in the 1970s, the decision was made to erect buildings in some portions of the green belt between the southern and northern parts of Belyayevo. The process of filling it up with new construction has been going on to this day. In the seventies and eighties of the last century, tall residential buildings were being built there. With the beginning of capitalism, the green belt started being covered with all kinds of commercial buildings.

The shift from socialist to capitalist economy brought to Belyayevo processes typical of Moscow at large. The urban fabric started becoming denser. New houses were simply constructed on empty plots, or the old buildings were replaced with new ones of higher density. We can find examples of either activity in Belyayevo – they are not large-scale, so far. The original general layout of the neighborhood was mostly preserved. The other big change, which is not so obvious, is the change of perception of Belyayevo on the map of Moscow. Because of the development of the city, half a century after its construction, Belyayevo is not any more a remote district, somewhere on the outskirts of the capital. It is rather perceived as a residential area (“sleeping district”), conveniently located and well connected with the city center. Being already 50 years old, it came to possess a “historical feeling” (a third generation of “natives” is currently growing up in Belyayevo) and a good reputation – in conversations, the Muscovites associate it with culture and the intelligentsia, referring to it as a “good neighborhood.”

There are places in Belyayevo which have not changed at all


All the buildings highlighted yellow were built in place of the green belt. In the first plan – new shopping centers. In the background – residential blocks


11-49 in Belyayevo


Dependence on series A very important fact which applies to the residential buildings of all the epochs in Belyayevo is the dependence on series. The district is filled with buildings which are predesigned and constitute parts of different series. The buildings originally raised in Belyayevo were repeated tens or hundreds of times in other parts of Moscow and Russia. Even now, most buildings constructed there are examples of serial production. All the series are based on the panel block technology, which means that prefabricated elements of walls and façades are massproduced industrially. To give a few examples: one of the most popular series in Belyayevo is 1605. It was designed in three versions: 5-, 9- and 12-storey high (1605/5, 1605/9, 1605/12). The first 5-storey buildings of this series appeared as early as in 1958. The last 12-storey ones stopped being produced only in 1985. It means they were being produced without major changes starting from the era of Khrushchev, throughout the whole “reign” of Brezhnev and Andropov until the Perestroika! Another extremely popular series – II-49 – was being built for two decades (1965–1985). Houses of that series were erected not only all over Moscow, but also in places like Togliatti (on the Volga River, 800 km south-east of Moscow) and Crimea (at Black Sea, 1200 km south of Moscow). Series P-3, produced in 1970–1998, can be found virtually in every district of Moscow as well as P-44 – probably the most popular series in history, built since 1979 until now. 25

Drawings of the 11-49: facade, plans, possible variants



Drawings of plans and facades of the most popular series in Belyayevo





The intangible component The history of Belyayevo is relatively short – no more than two generations have lived there. Yet the presence of a group of incredibly talented people and the existence of culturally important places have added to the neighborhood an intangible component – a myth of Belyayevo being a place “bursting with culture.” The first example is the Vityaz cinema (movie theater). In the original project, it was planned simply as a cultural building. Yet no one was able to foresee what kind of role for culture it would actually play. The cinema used to be one of the few in Moscow, which, in the times of the Soviet censorship, would play unofficial movies. Therefore it became a place of gathering of sophisticated public and an important point on the

cultural map of Moscow. The Belyayevo Art Gallery, situated close by, was another important location. In the 1980s, it became home to the first independent artistic community “Hermitage” founded by Leonid Bazhanov[3]. Dmitri Prigov[3], one of the most famous residents of Belyayevo, made many attempts to reassess the space of the neighborhood. He would describe it as his Duchy, and himself he would call the Duke of Belyayevo. He would organize for his fans excursions to the district’s various spots, and fill the empty wastelands with stories and poems. The name of the “Bulldozer Exhibition,” which was one of the most important breakthroughs in the liberalization of Soviet art, will forever be bound with the name of Belyayevo.

[3] Leonid Bazhanov (born 1945) – Russian art critic, art historian, curator, specialist in contemporary art [4] Dmitri Prigov (1940, Moscow – 2007, Moscow) – Russian poet, painter, sculptor. One of the founders of the Moscow Conceptualism in art and literature (poetry and prose); author of about 35 000 poems, 25 books, 3 movies, countless exhibitions, performances, graphic works and installations; awarded Pushkin Award 1993


Cinema Vityaz


2.b History and development Khrushchev’s new deal Khrushchev’s[5] speech of December 7, 1954, can be regarded – among other things – as the beginning of the history of a typical “sleeping district.” This document, being on the one hand a reaction to the great demand for new housing, and on the other hand a protest against the high cost and the ideologyfraught aura of Stalinist architecture, gave birth to a totally new type of architecture. This was the point in time when the mass construction of standard houses in the USSR started. In his speech, Khrushchev was very specific in addressing the relevant problems and challenges. First of all, he proposed to totally abandon the building of brick structures, and switch to fully prefabricated methods. Since the development of industry had been one of the main achievements of the USSR, it seemed logical to industrialize also the production of houses.

Khrushchev also proposed a total consolidation of building companies. It was not only about making building companies bigger, but also about consolidating the process of decision making. “There can be no serious thought of industrializing construction if we are going to continue to increase the number of building organizations.[…] Highly instructive in this respect is the reduction of building organizations in Moscow – where a single organization, Glavmosstroy has been set up on the basis of the 56 Mossoviet building trusts and various ministries and departments.”*

In the speech he proposed to rely totally on standardized projects. There should be as few of them as possible. “Why are they 38 standard designs of schools in current use? […] We must select a small number of standard designs for residential buildings, schools, hospitals, kindergartens, children’s nurseries, shops and other buildings […]”*

“And what are the effects of using prefabricated parts? Use of pre-fabricated reinforced concrete will allow us to manufacture parts as is done in the plant-construction industry – will make it possible to switch to factory construction methods.”*

[5] Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (1894-1971) was the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR in years 1953-1964. He was responsible for partial de-stalinization and several liberal reforms, which were later called “thaw”. In the West mainly known for the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962

* Excerpts from the speech by Nikita Khrushchev, National Conference of Builders, Architects, Workers in the Construction Materials and Manufacture of Construction and Road Machinery Industries, and Employees of Design and Research and Development Organizations, 7.12.1954


We are not against beauty, but against unnecessary elements! As a result, Khrushchev proposed a total industrialization, a full consolidation of industrial organizations and a creation of a maximally reduced catalogue of standard projects. He was supporting his theses with rational arguments, based mainly on cost optimization. In his speech, Khrushchev was addressing the processes that were already taking place in any case – the industrialization, the creation of an increasingly elaborate catalogue of prefabricated elements was the way architecture of those times had been developing. Yet the USSR, being a totalitarian, centralized state, created perfect conditions to pursue this development until it reached its ultimate stage. Therefore I call this speech Khrushchev’s Manifesto since it really is a Manifesto of architecture in its entirety.


After the speech The effects of this document were staggering. First of all, the role of the architect changed. From an artist working with styles, the architect transformed into a scientist working with concepts. The immanent part of this new approach was experimenting, sampling, optimizing – just like scientists do. The neighborhood of Cheremushki[6] built just after Khrushchev’s manifesto was a proving ground for this new architecture. Diverse prototypes of building typologies, urban layouts and construction methods had been tested there and later repeated in other districts. Architecture based on esthetics was replaced with one based on ideas. Unintentionally, Khrushchev introduced a foundation for the conceptual approach in Soviet architecture. In architecture, Khrushchev’s Manifesto resulted in monotony. After a short period of experimenting, engineers came up with an optimum series of houses, which was later to undergo only minor improvements. From that moment, they could be industrially produced and multiplied hundreds of times. Typical apartments were furnished with typical furniture.

About 80% of Moscow area is covered with the new sleeping neighborhoods

Moscow 1957

Moscow 1987

[6] 9th district of Cheremushki (1956-1958), arch. N. Osterman, S. Lyashchenko, G. Pavlov – experimental district, south of the center of Moscow, testing ground for new technologies (i.e. panel blocks), new typologies of buildings and apartments


The repetitiveness was taking place on any scale – the whole chunks of urban layout were repeated with the same simplicity as if they were houses or pieces of furniture. The third consequence was the appearance of a totally new typology of space. The landscape of a district (Russ. Rayon; used when speaking of a district as a phenomenon) was totally different from what had existed before. Instead of a sum of archetypal elements which had previously constituted the space of a city – like streets, houses, squares – it was now an endless empty space filled with abstract objects that lacked scale. This landscape quickly began forming the outskirts of Moscow and, in just one generation’s lifetime, became the dominant one in Russian capital. The situation was similar in all other cities of the whole Eastern Bloc. Although Khrushchev soon ceased to rule the country (1964), the guidelines he had established were followed to the end of the USSR. Moreover, the factories of prefabricated elements continue to work even now; new series of houses are still being produced.


One of repetitive facades in Belyayevo

9th District of Cheremushki: the testing ground for the new architecture Form following the movement of cranes Thirteen four-section four-storey buildings. Each of them has different apartment plans

Three single-section eight-storey buildings

General plan of the 9th District of Cheremushki (1956-1958), arch. N. Osterman, S. Lyashchenko, G. Pavlov

The district was built in 22 months. The best solutions tried out here were repeated elsewhere

The cost of a building in Cheremushki decreased by about 30% compared to previous contructions

Nurseries, kindergartens, schools, canteen, cinema, administration


Different consctruction methods: brick...

... big block...

... panel block Different types of technologies and construction methods were tried out in the 9th District of Cheremushki. Three types of facades, different floor plans and typologies of buildings


Daily life A result of careful planning by architects-scientists, the new districts were to be confronted with real life. Orthogonal geometry and purist esthetics came in contact with the natural and “organic” behavior of people; spaces designed for the average man, with the diversity of the actual population. Wrong decisions of architects were quickly corrected by the residents. The decision to construct typical apartments without additional storage space led to mass conversion of loggias and balconies into improvised storerooms. As a consequence, the pure, orderly image of façades was ruined by random changes that occurred to the loggias and balconies thus modified. Those changes, probably the most visible “contribution” of daily life to architecture, were also a manifestation of individualism definitely not foreseen by the designers. In the new urban plans, typical streets were replaced by the paths connecting important nodes of the neighborhood. They were almost invariably drawn as straight, orthogonal lines – consistent with the general esthetics of the layout. Those paths would almost never be used by the residents – people normally follow the most convenient (i.e., shortest) routes. So the residents added another layer to the design – an organic network of paths.

Dirk Helbling, a German physician was researching the way people walk, inspired by the paths they were leaving in the space of the modernist University in Stuttgart (image above). It appeared that the paths of people will always turn into organic shapes, even if they are initially straight (diagrams below)


Adaptation of loggias, Belyayevo


In many cases, the clash between an architect’s vision and life would result in something absurd. Let’s take for example a peculiar tradition of hanging a carpet on the wall behind the bed. A traditionally looking decorative carpet in the nearly Spartan interior of a Soviet apartment looks utterly incongruous. Yet it was present in so many of the panel-block domiciles that it is considered a genuine urban tradition. There are different views as to where the carpet came from. One version says it is an old rural tradition, which was brought to the city by former village dwellers. Here it is important to mention that, having initiated the policy of cheap, mass-produced housing, Khrushchev accelerated urbanization. A large part of new citizens in the just constructed “sleeping districts” was the first urban generation who moved directly from villages. Moreover, whole villages were in some cases resettled to a newly-built district. Those people came with their own culture and traditions many of which were merely adjusted to the new environment but still observed. Another version claims that the carpet appeared for strictly pragmatic reasons: it was a protection against the noise that easily penetrated the thin partitions and the cold of the concrete walls. At some point, the carpets became so popular that they turned into a symbol of status of sorts.

Not only life modified architecture – it also had to adjust itself to the new urban conditions. The creation of enormous zones each serving a single purpose definitely influenced the rhythm of the typical day. A carefully constructed system of educational facilities – nurseries, kindergartens, schools – established a certain life rhythm. In sum, all those components resulted in the creation of a totally new pattern of life – the life of the Soviet “sleeping district.” That life circulated within a defined framework (nursery – kindergarten – school – work), included certain repetitive everyday procedures (commuting to work, going to school, going back home, etc.), a list of typical places (apartment, staircase, playground). On the one hand, it had very clear guidelines, on the other hand, it now and then received a huge dose of unexpected absurdity.


A plan of the perfect living neighborhood, taken from the handbook for the students of architecture. The distribution of buildings is based on opitmal distances from housing units to schools, kindergartens and other public facilities

m 300


housing unit

ius rad


sport facilities

housing unit

housing unit

school kindergarten

400 m radius

microrayon park

housing unit


housing unit

public center


600 m radius

A decorative carpet on the wall became a typical element of a Soviet flat


Works of Dmitri Prigov hanging in his flat in Belyayevo – a coincidence or a reference to the carpet?


Soviet life in movies Soviet and Russian film industry is a perfect source of knowledge about this kind of life. Those movies, in addition to their high artistic quality, are incredibly rich in detail depicting everyday life in the Soviet Union. I also assume that the general mood of the movies is to a large extent defined by attitudes to the space of the Soviet city which were slowly changing over the years. In the movies of the 1960s-1970s (the “early Rayon era”), we can see a positive, almost enthusiastic

picture of the new city. In the comedy Afonya[7] (Afonya: the main character’s nickname), for example, a new neighborhood on Profsoyuznaya Street (very close to Belyayevo!) is represented almost as the promised land – beautiful white houses, plenty of children playing on the playgrounds. Young and happy Soviet citizens are walking around and contemplating the new landscape, while the elderly are sitting on benches surrounded by trees and laughing children. In the movies of the early Rayon era, the main characters are mostly good people, the stories told are optimistic, ending happily. But already in the 1970s some doubts begin to [7] “Afonya”, dir. G. Daneliya, writ. A. Borodyansky, perf. B. Brondukov, USSR 1975


arise. There appear movies like Ironiya sud’by[8] (The Irony of Fate) – still comedies, yet already somewhat bitter, deriding the Soviet reality. In this famous comedy, the main character, being drunk, gets into the wrong apartment – of course one in a typical panel block. After sobering up, he finds himself in an apartment identical to the one he lived in – with identical furniture, key and address – only in a different city. It is definitely an ironic laugh at the expense of the architecture, a sure sign of how fast it began losing its reputation. On the other hand, more pessimistic movies like Osenniy marafon[9] (The Autumn Marathon) started appearing, in which the main character was

Every day life in a Soviet sleeping district. Juxtaposition of frames from movies Afonya (pictures on the left) and Vse umrut a ya ostanus’ (on the right) Opposite page: three friends, modernist architecture in the background. Optimistic lives of young people versus miserable existence of teenagers Above: love shown as in a fairy tale, versus hopeless affection with no chance for happy end

[8] „Ironiya sud’by, ili s legkim parom!”, dir. E. Ryazanov, writ. E. Ryazanov, perf. B.Brylska, A. Miagkov, USSR 1975 [9]“Osenniy Marafon”, dir. G. Daneliya, writ. A. Volodin, perf. O. Basilashvili, N. Gundareva, M. Neyolova, USSR 1979


The way architecture is shown in the Soviet and Russian movies. 1975 – space of the modernist neighborhood in Afonya reflects optimism, enthusiasm. It is bright, full of greenery and life

The same year: in the movie Ironiya sud’by the new architecture – as well as the life in it – is already shown in an ironic way. The first doubts start appearing

lonely and beset with doubts about life. Unwittingly, he steps into situations that have no way out. That was only the beginning of a new wave of movies from the 1980s (Assa[10]: Assa, a title of uncertain origin; Kuryer[11]: The Courier) which often described the lives of rebels who rejected all previous values and rules of Soviet life. In Kuryer, for instance, the space of a “sleeping district” (no longer lovely and optimistic, but neglected, dirty and hopeless) emphasizes the pointlessness of life. After the fall of the USSR, this direction in the perception of the Rayon developed even further. In the movies of Valeriya Guy Germanika[12] (e.g., Vse umrut, a ya ostanus’[13]: They’ll All Die, and I’ll

Stay Behind) the Rayon is not only an unfriendly background. This architecture is directly blamed for all misery of life of contemporary teenagers. The architectural environment seems to be no less than the main villain of her movies. [10] “Assa”, dir. S. Soloviov, writ. S. Soloviov, S. Livnev, perf. A. Domogarov, T. Drubich, USSR 1987 [11] “Kuryer”, dir. K. Shakhnazarov, writ. K. Shakhnazarov, A. Borodyansky, perf. F. Dunayevsky, USSR 1986 [12] Valeria Guy Germanika (born 1984) – one of the most promising contemporary Russian film directors. Her movie “Vse umrut a ya ostanus” was shown on the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 “Golden Camera” awards, and was awarded a special mention [13] “Vse umrut, a ya ostanus’”, dir. V. Guy Germanika, writ. Y. Klavdiyev, A. Rodionov, perf. Y. Aleksandrova, P. Filonenko, A. Kuznetsova, Russia 2008


Only a few years later (1979) the modernist spaces are already seen as sad and depressive – as well as the life one can live in it (above: Osenniy marafon)


1986 – The absurdity of architectural scenography in Kuryer is emphasizing the senselessness and absurdity of lives of the teenagers. In the movies of the 90s and 2000s this space is becoming more and more neglected

Afonya, 1975. The main characters are happy people who live happy lives. They look into the future with optimism


Vse umrut a ya ostanus’, 2008. The same kind of neighborhood is full of patologies and misery. The main characters have to fight with the hostile life of the post-Soviet district. There is no future there


The case of Belyayevo In Belyayevo, the daily life has one more extra component, which made this particular neighborhood different from the typical “sleeping districts.” It was built as part of a huge construction project of the South-Western region of Moscow[14] (1952–1966) designed by the architect Yakov Belapolski – a project particularly interesting because of its social dimension. One of its important objectives was to move science and education out of the city center. New scientific institutes and educational units were being built simultaneously with the construction of residential areas. The first ideas regarding the decentralization of science appeared even before Khrushchev – the Stalinist skyscraper of the Moscow University, built south-west of the city center, had set that trend of development. At this point, it would be appropriate to mention another Khrushchev’s idea – to decentralize the administration as well, building a new government district in the south-west of the capital. Yet this plan was never realized.

All those plans definitely had a huge influence on the social life of Belyayevo. The Space Research Institute is next door to the Pushkin Language Institute. The Peoples’ Friendship University[13], build to support postcolonial countries of Asia and Africa, creates a multicultural atmosphere so difficult to find elsewhere in Moscow. Unlike other districts, located in the north and east of Moscow, the south-western area, because of its academic and spiritual content, became a magnet for the intelligentsia. The concentration of artistic activity, attested there later, was probably its consequence.

Left: the South-Western Area of Moscow, compared to the scale of the whole city Opposite page: Belyayevo surrounded by universities and scientific institutes

[14] South-Western Region of Moscow – one of ten administrative districts of Moscow, covering an area of 112 square km (10,3% of Moscow), consisting of 12 districts; total number of population (2008) – 1,24mln (11,8% of the whole Moscow population) [15] People’s Friendship University – an education and research institution located in Moscow. It was founded in 1960 in order to support the new countries which emerged after the fall of the colonial system. In 1961 it was given a name of Patrice Lumumba, a Congolese freedom fighter. In the first year students from 59 countries were enrolled. Nowadays it is ranked by the Russian Ministry of Education as the country’s third best university


The Pushkin State Russian Language Institute Peoples’ Friendship University

Moscow State Geological University

Space Research Institute

Russian Scientific Center for Radiology

Institute of Management Russian State Medical University

Moscow University of MIA


All this is not necessary for the Soviet people. Prohibit! Prohibit everything! Stop this disgrace! I am ordering you! Nikita Khrushchev at the “New Reality� Exhibition at the Manezh, 1962


Khrushchev and art An ardent follower of modern architecture, Khrushchev paradoxically appeared, at the same time, to be a most formidable opponent of progressive art. Similarly to his influence on Soviet architecture, Khrushchev’s decisions also had immense influence on art. On the 1st of December, 1962, Khrushchev visited the “New Reality” exhibition in the Manezh (Manège: named after a manège that once occupied that building) exhibition hall. Unprepared for reception of abstract art, he criticized the work of artists using strong language. As a consequence of this event, a campaign against formalism and abstraction started, heralding the end of the socalled “thaw” in art. Since then, artists who did not obey the rules of socialist realism were not allowed to exhibit their works in the official state galleries. This prohibition resulted in the consolidation of unofficial art. This underground movement became so strong that it even created its own internal organization that was modeled on the official structure: unofficial artists had their own hierarchy, archives, ways of publication (the samizdat, i.e., handmade books), and even their own ways of organizing exhibitions.


One of Prigov’s “samizdats” – handmade books, “Literary portraits of the contemporaries”, 1983

The Bulldozer Exhibition The most important of the unofficial exhibitions took place on September 15, 1974. Two underground artists, Evgeny Rukhin[16] and Oscar Rabin[17], decided to organize an open-air exhibition in one of Belyayevo’s wastelands. This act of disobedience was immediately punished by the authorities: the exhibition was destroyed by the militia (police), using bulldozers and water cannons. Due to the presence of Western journalists, the destruction of the exhibition instantly became an event. The violent image of bulldozers crushing pieces of art was being broadcast worldwide, immediately ruining the reputation of the USSR abroad and therefore forcing the Soviet authorities to make concessions to the artists. The next unofficial open-air exhibition in Izmailovo, which took place two weeks after the one in Belyayevo, was already accepted by the government. Another “thaw” in art began.

itself was chosen instead of other possible districts simply because of its logistics. Yet it would be too bold to state that this event occurred in Belyayevo, of all places, totally by chance. At that time, it was inhabited by very many promising artists, it was buzzing with artistic activity. Dmitri Prigov, the most famous resident of Belyayevo, mentions those who lived there, and who later left. “Here is the list: Averintsev (until he moved to Vienna), Groys (until he moved to Cologne), Parschikov (until he moved to the very same Cologne), Erofeev (until he moved to Plyushchikha Street). Popov also moved. So did Yankilevsky (to Paris). Rostropovich and Rushdie, likewise. Kibirov and Sorokin still remain, while Kabakov and Bulatov moved out. Insaytbatallo and Staynlomato still remain, but Schnittke, Pärt and Konchelli moved out.”*

The participants of the exhibition mentioned that the empty wasteland was chosen to prevent the authorities from closing the exhibition down using the typical “traffic obstruction” excuse. Belyayevo [16] Evgeniy Rukhin (1943, Saratov – 1976, Leningrad) – Russian painter, representing non-art

* Dmitri Prigov, “Belyayevo 99 and Forever”

[17] Oskar Rabin (born 1928, Moscow) – Russian painter, founder of an informal group “Lianozovo” – an association of postavangardists. His works are part of a collection of i.e. Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg


Above: destroyed pieces of art at the Bulldozer Exhibition Left: Korun Nahapetyan, “Embrios�, one of the works shown at the Bulldozer Exhibition


Moscow Conceptualism The movement of Moscow Conceptualism which gradually formed parallel to all above-mentioned events, seems to have many features in common with the architecture of those times. Being an architect, not art historian, I might be very simplistic in my interpretations, though I will try to name a few features which I find crucial. Having developed in the conditions of socialist economy, Moscow Conceptualism lacked any commercial meaning whatsoever. Western artists are always confronted with the commercial reality, whereas Soviet artists did not even have such a chance. Subsequent to Khrushchev’s Manifesto, Soviet architecture seemed to follow the same logic. Buildings and apartments were minimalistic, lacking any extravagant features, simply fulfilling their primary function. The real value was elsewhere – in the public buildings like “houses of culture,” cinemas, etc.

Moscow Conceptualists would use any language to tell their stories. They would write, draw, perform; they were not afraid of videos and the internet. When writing, they would use both high and low language – finding them equally appropriate and unafraid to use any words provided they are fitting. Therefore they were similarly unafraid to investigate the modernist architecture that was created using a very crude and difficult architectural language. The rough esthetics of Khrushchev’s buildings, deprived of all unnecessary elements, also could be linked with the esthetics of conceptual art. This art is aimed at delivering its message, at represent its concept – not at portraying superficially understood beauty.


Artists in Belyayevo during the Bulldozer Exhibition, 1974. From the right: M. Tupitsyna, V. Nemukhin, V. Tupitsyn, S. Bordachev


3. Justification for inscription 3.a. Criteria under which inscription is proposed (and justification for inscription under these criteria)

“Provide a separate justification for each criterion cited. State briefly how the property meets those criteria under which it has been nominated [...]”*

3.b Proposed Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

“Based on the criteria used above, the proposed Statement of Outstanding Universal Value should make clear why the property is considered to merit inscription on the World Heritage List [...]”*

3.c Comparative analysis

“The property should be compared to similar properties, whether on the World Heritage List or not. The comparison should outline the similarities the nominated property has with other properties and the reasons that make the nominated property stand out.”*

3.d Integrity and/or Authenticity

“The statement of integrity and/or authenticity should demonstrate that the property fulfils the conditions of integrity and/or authenticity [...]”*

* “Format for the nomination of properties for the inscription on the World Heritage List”, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, World Heritage Centre 2008, p.104


3.a Proposed criteria and justification Change the criteria! The existing UNESCO criteria do not seem sufficient to describe the value of Belyayevo, which makes them useless for an application for the inclusion of that district into the UNESCO list. For instance: the first criterion (“to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius”) definitely cannot be applied to Belyayevo’s architecture – used in relation to such a generic project it would sound ironic. The third (“to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition […]”) and especially the sixth point (“to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance”) could theoretically be used to describe the unique intangible content of this particular neighborhood. Yet they only cover individual aspects without describing situation as a whole. Yet none of those criteria matches exactly the very essence of Belyayevo’s importance. It is the place where a specific form of art appeared, having been provoked by the architectural environment.

The situation is complex – there was a bilateral influence and various favorable factors. On the one hand, the apparently unfriendly modernist neighborhoods used to provoke or at least support artistic activity. On the other hand, the artistic content became an added value to generic architecture. Therefore I propose to create a new criterion which would describe the situation where the most important reason for preservation is not architecture as such, but architecture in an inseparable bond with its immaterial content. It matters not only to Belyayevo. It is just one of the first examples of a trend in preservation which may potentially emerge in the near future. The change in construction methods which happened in the middle of the 20th century brought a new type of architecture. Firstly, it was mass-produced construction; new neighborhoods were built on a much bigger scale than ever before. Secondly, new construction methods and materials appeared: prefabricated façade panels, curtain walls, etc. The approach of preservationist organizations to the


Existing Unesco World Heritage Criteria* Original UNESCO World Heritage Criteria 1) to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius

mass-produced housing is expected to differ from their approach to single, unique buildings. A curtain wall cannot – and must not – be protected the same way as a 16th century brick wall. The earliest examples of this mass-produced, generic architecture are now reaching the psychological age of 50 years, when we start wondering what and if to preserve. This means an inevitable shift in preservation methods – from evaluating architecture only, to a more complex approach where architecture is just an element of the whole. The remaining elements would mostly be intangible values: processes that occurred in a particular place, its cultural context, etc.

2) to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design; 3) to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared; 4) to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history; 5) to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change; 6) to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);[...]

I would formulate the new criterion in the following way (on the next page):

* “Criteria for the assessment of outstanding universal value”, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, World Heritage Centre 2008, p.20



The new criterion which I propose to add:

7) To be an example of intangible content (events or living traditions, ideas or beliefs, artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance), being inseparably connected with the architectural environment where it emerged, unique and exceptional to the extent that it strongly reinforces the significance of architectural environment itself.


Duchy of Prigov '81

This page: space of Belyayevo in the seventies – Duchy of Prigov? Opposite page: absurd of text on the banner created by the artists versus absurd of the official propaganda


Justification for inscription To prove that there is a connection between the new typology of space where the Moscow conceptualists happened to live and the art they have been creating, one has to take a closer look at the main features of the conceptual art. Although Conceptualism was very diverse, it is possible to distinguish certain features common to many artists. They may easily be related to the features of the Rayon.

“Workers of Moscow! We will show an example of the communist work at volunteer cleaning on April 18, 1981!”

I would assume the emptiness of the Rayon exerted a strong influence on the work of many artists. The “Collective Actions”[18] group used the emptiness of the suburbs as an integral element of their performances. Dmitri Prigov often referred to the emptiness of Belyayevo. When reading through the verses of the famous poem about the Militiaman, one can imagine him somewhere in the Rayon, trapped between its endless space and the sky. Finally, Prigov was calling the district his Duchy. He was inspired by the spaciousness of his native neighborhood. The wastelands between buildings he used to call his realms, and himself, the Duke. I understand this as a form of appropriation of space.

[18] “Collective Actions” Group – (founded 1976 by Andrey Monastyrsky) a group of Moscow artists, one of the key formations for the Moscow Conceptualism.


“I do not complain about anything and I almost like it here, although I have never been here before and know nothing about this place”

Left: fragment of Andrey Monastyrsky’s “Elementary Poetry” versus a part of the original sketches of Belyayevo by Yakov Belopolski Opposite side: poem by Dmitri Prigov “Apotheosis of a Policeman”. Translation Stuart Norgate

Conceptual artists also seem to have been fascinated with the modernist rationality. Geometry and numbers often constitute the language of their works. Numbers, repetition of the same action a certain number of times is a common element of the “Collective Actions” ’s performances. Monastyrsky’s[19] Elementary Poetry is full of numbers, graphs and diagrams – as if it is a work of physics rather than of poetry.

Newspapers, being a logical and hierarchical means of distribution of information, were often used by Prigov as a background to his graphics.

[19] Andrey Monastyrsky (born 1949 near Murmansk, USSR) – poet, artist, writer, one of the founders of the Moscow Conceptualism. Winner of Andrei Bely Prize in 2003 in the category for outstanding contribution to the development of Russian literature; In 2008 the winner of the prize “Companion”; Laureate of “Innovation” in 2009 in the category of “Theory of Art”; his art was shown on many exhibitions both in Russia and abroad


АПОФЕОЗ МИЛИЦАНЕРА (1978) Когда здесь на посту стоит Милицанер Ему до Внуково простор весь открывается На Запад и Восток глядит Милицанер И пустота за ними открывается И центр, где стоит Милицанер — Взляд на него отвсюду открывается Отвсюду виден Милиционер С Востока виден Милиционер И с Юга виден Милиционер И с моря виден Милиционер И с неба виден Милиционер И с-под земли... да он и не скрывается 65

Apotheosis of a Policeman (1978) When a Policeman stands here at his post An expanse opens up for him as far as Vnukovo To the West and the East looks the Pliceman And the void behind them opens up And the centre, where the Pliceman stands From everywhere a sight of him opens up From everywhere can be seen the Policeman From the East can be seen the Policeman And from the South can be seen the Policeman Also from the sea can be seen the Policeman Also from the sky can be seen the Policeman Also from under the earth… But he isn’t hiding, is he


Prigov also worked with ready-made, found objects. For me, it is another analogy with architecture. The architects of those times had a catalogue of ready architectural solutions, which they composed in space. Conceptual artists objectified the language, the words became objects. Some of Prigov’s poems seem to be a transitional form between poetry and graphics – they can be both read and looked at. With his typewriter, he was able to create totally new compositions using words as objects. Many times those words-objects have been endlessly repeated. The use of typewriter allowed him to repeat the same words – like architects who, thanks to prefabrication, could repeat buildings. This repetitiveness may be found virtually everywhere. In his poetry, he repeated the same words many times (e.g., in the poem about the Militiaman). The background of his graphics is also repetitive (for me, the most interesting case is the background reminiscent of a typical apartment in a prefab building).

The opposite page: juxtaposition of graphics by Dmitri Prigov and fragments of masterplans of different Moscow’s sleeping districts


Fragment of Prigov’s composition of words-objects


Fragment of a plan of a typical Moscow neighborhood


Irina Nakhova’s “Room No.2” (1984). Initial sketches and ready installation


In my opinion, the total approach to construction is also reflected in the total approach to art. The installations that appeared in the early 1980s are the best illustration. Since it was difficult to obtain an official place for exhibiting art, conceptual artists used their apartments as exhibition spaces. In 1983, Irina Nakhova[20] painted the walls and the floor of her apartment. She thereby created a new kind of object, an image into which one can walk. Nakhova’s “Rooms” have ultimately led Ilya Kabakov[21] to the idea of “total” installation. For Ilya Kabakov, total installation is a materialization of the well-known method used in the fine arts – entering into the picture.

[20] Irina Nakhova (born 1955) – Russian artists, representing Moscow Conceptualism, the initiator of the “total installation” in art [21] Ilya Kabakov (born 1933), a Russian-American conceptual artist. He is an author a wide range of paintings, drawings, installations, and theoretical texts. He was named by ArtNews as one of the “ten greatest living artists” in 2000 [22] [22]


In his works, he presents an absolutely total approach. A look at his work titled An Alternative History of Art provides an ample demonstration. Kabakov literally created a total installation of a museum inside a museum. He invented the artists with whole biographies, created pieces of art, architectural spaces of the museum, etc. “[One] is simultaneously both a ‘victim’ and a viewer, who on the one hand surveys and evaluates the installation, and on the other, follows those associations, recollections which arise in him[…] he is overcome by the intense atmosphere of the total illusion.[…] Here installation art bestows an unprecedented importance on the observer’s inclusion in that which he observes.”*

* Ilya Kabakov, Introduction to the lecture “On the Total Installation”

Yet it is the absurd that forms the main feature of conceptualism. A multitude of works is not only inspired by the absurd but is even based on it. Architects had created a perfect living space based on rationality, geometry, reasonable organization. However, its encounter with the real life full of improvisation and imperfection, as well as with the Soviet political system, resulted in many absurd situations. Those in turn were noticed by artists and transformed in a conceptualistic way. In the works of the “Collective Actions” group, the absurd was frequently the way to ridicule the political situation. On banners similar to those used by the official propaganda, the artists would write ridiculous statements. Instead of hanging them in a public place in the city center, they would place them in the middle of the forest, where no one would see them. In his works devoted to “the typical man,” Victor Pivovarov[23] shows an absurdist version of the life in the Rayon. He draws a typical apartment, pieces of furniture and even a biography of the typical man and his dreams. The absurd is omnipresent in the works of Dmitri Prigov as well. Left, opposite page: Plan of a Day of a Typical Man, Project of a Living Space of a Typical Man, Project of a Biography of a Typical Man, Victor Pivovarov

[23] Victor Pivovarov (born 1937, Moscow) – Russian artist, representing the unofficial art in the USSR, one of the founders of the Moscow Conceptualism



Essential corrections made with a pencil

Standard sizes for typical projects. A basis for architectural designs in the USSR Drawings by architect Lazar Cherikover




Dan Graham’s minimalist photographies, “Homes for America”, 1967


Conceptualist sensitivity outside the Soviet Union

The connection between conceptual art and architecture is a phenomenon restricted neither to Moscow nor to the Soviet Union. After the manner of convergent evolution, Soviet and Western artists would sometimes independently follow the same logic and develop very similar concepts. Let Dan Graham’s[24] “Homes for America” series be an illustration of that statement. Although popular residential architecture in the USA and the USSR radically differed from one another (the large-scale suburbanization versus Khrushchev’s urbanization model; private initiative versus state financing, etc.), Graham and the Moscow Conceptualists seem to have similar sensitivity. “Homes for America” also show repetitive,

[24] Dan Graham (born 1942) – a conceptual artist working in New York city. He is both an influential artist and a critic and theorist. His artistic fields are: film, video, performance, photography, architectural models, glass and mirror structures


empty spaces of the contemporary city – as a statement that there is more to contemporary life than can be immediately noticed. This example can prove that the patterns found in Moscow may be much more universal than they seem – this kind of link between art and architecture could have also existed in other places at that time.

3.b Statement of outstanding universal value In Belyayevo, we deal with architecture that was the result of the Soviet experiment in a totally industrialized production of houses. The consequence of the sweeping optimization of projects, costs and the process of production itself was an architectural landscape being absolutely generic, repetitive and deprived of any individuality. The invariably perfectionist thinking created an environment that was far from perfection. The outstanding value of Belyayevo lies in the fact that its space, with its radically generic atmosphere was a witness, topic or even a source of inspiration for the works of Moscow Conceptualism, the most important direction in Soviet art of the second half of the 20th century. Why is Moscow Conceptualism so important? It was a totally unofficial direction in Soviet art. As a whole, it ignored the guidelines of socialist realism, the official direction in Soviet art. Moscow Conceptualism existed and developed underground, far from the official channels of propaganda and ideology. It was a huge and holistic trend in art. As well as the avant-garde of the 1920s, Moscow Conceptualism had a very consistent philosophy. And, despite this consistency, it was at the same time very diverse

and multilayered in the ways of expression. Conceptual artists worked with literature, poetry, graphics, sculpture, performance, etc. Despite its innovativeness, Moscow Conceptualism was intimately connected with the antecedent Russian culture. It definitely had a background in the art of the 19th and 20th centuries, being in some ways its continuation; conceptual artists would sometimes make references to and travesties of that older art. Finally, Moscow Conceptualism had a very big influence on art. In Russia, this influence is visible even today. Conceptualists like Ilya Kabakov, Andrey Monastyrsky or Eric Bulatovs[25] are already well-known in the West. Dmitri Prigov is gradually becoming famous.

[25] Eric Bulatov (born 1933, Sverdlovsk) – a Russian artist, photorealist, one of the founders of Soc-Art


Poster for the exhibition “Dmitri Prigov� during the 2011 Venice Biennale, prepared by the State Hermitage Museum Prigov is gradually getting more and more famous in the West. Other conceptual artists like Ilya Kabakov or Andrey Monastyrsky have already gained worldwide fame


Above: new panel blocks are replacing the old ones. In the above case three Khrushchev’s 5-story blocks are replaced by a tower (built also in panel block technology)

Top: new facade panels are totally changing the appearance of the modernist buildings. On the picture: one of the few renovated facades in Belyayevo

Right: the invasion of commercialism. Advertisments are appearing virtually everywhere


3.c Integrity and Authenticity In general Belyayevo has remained authentic and integral. Majority of buildings which were built according to the original project remained untouched. The general urban composition did not change, with the exception of the green belt. Yet there are three categories of processes which have been happening throughout years and which might be a threat for district’s integrity and authenticity.

The second process which left its mark in Belyayevo is the municipal program of destruction of Khrushchev’s five-story blocks (“Khrushchevki”). In Belyayevo they are located mostly in the northwestern quarter. A few of them have been already demolished and replaced with new blocks of different size and shape, which do not follow the guidelines of the original design.

The first and most dangerous process, which is a threat for districts genuine character, are all the commercial consequences of the shift from the socialist to the capitalist economy. Majority of them – i.e. an invasion of advertisements and kiosks – are relatively harmless and easy get rid of. Yet there are also changes which are virtually undoable. The green belt running through Belyayevo’s diameter has been probably irreversibly built with large-size commercial objects; it is the biggest crack on the district’s integrity.

The third process disrupting district’s authenticity which I would name, are the renovations of the facades, connected with the necessity of insulation of the old buildings. The “renovation” means simply covering the old elevation with insulation and a new layer of façade panels. Therefore the original buildings lose their features, being a “trademark” of Khrushchev’s architecture: specific proportions and thicknesses, the “honesty gap” between the panels, sometimes a unique texture.


3.d Comparative analysis When searching for an example of space comparable to Belyayevo, I was trying to avoid the expected outward similarity. Belyayevo should not be juxtaposed with a similar architectural object – it ought to be compared with another place that would be meaningless without its intangible content. The example which I decided to choose is the village of Giverny – a place which was a source of inspiration for Claude Monet[26]. It is a beautiful village, yet without its association with the famous painter and its presence on his paintings, it would never attract so much attention, it would never be as important for culture. Giverny is located in Normandy, 75 km north-west of Paris. It is well known due to its history connected with the Impressionists, especially with Claude Monet. The place was “discovered” by Monet in 1883. He quickly fell in love with a charming, small village surrounded by a beautiful, idyllic landscape. He instantly decided to buy a farmhouse with a garden, where he lived to the end of his life.

stay in the village, he was painting mostly the rural landscape, later on he concentrated on his own garden. Monet was not the only impressionist artist captivated by Giverny. The place became very popular among American painters, dozens of them were coming to visit the village and look for inspiration there. Belyayevo was also a crucial place for an entire artistic movement – Moscow Conceptualism. We are dealing here with a group of artists discovering the hitherto underestimated landscape, gaining inspiration from that physical environment and converting it into pieces of art. The only difference between Belyayevo and Giverny is the following: in Monet’s case, we deal with traditional art, based on the appreciation of visual objects, whereas in Belyayevo the essence of art lies in concepts that are not readily visible.

Giverny and his own garden, which he designed according to his own ideas, had been a source of inspiration for his art. In the beginning of his [26] Claude Monet (1840-1926) – a French painter, one of the founders of the impressionist movement in painting. The term “Impressionism” itself derives from one of his paintings “Impression, Sunrise”

Opposite page: winter landscape of Belyayevo versus gardens of Monet



4. State of conservation/factors affecting the property 4.a

Present state of conservation


Factors affecting the property


Development pressures(e.g., encroachment, adaptation, agriculture, mining)

Development pressures connected with the development: New construction in the places which were not meant to be constructed; primarily it concerns areas which appeared to be valuable in the conditions of market economy – close to the nodes of public transport, by the important paths. The new construction has different scales: kiosks, new apartment buildings, shopping centers Invasion of advertisement of any kind Renovations of old buildings using contemporary materials; the main threat is cheap thermal insulation Development pressures connected with the municipality programs: The municipality program of demolition of the 5-storey buildings (“Khrushchevki”)[27]


Environmental pressures (e.g., pollution, climate change, desertification)

General pollution – a huge amount of cars which have appeared In Belyayevo in the last 20 years.


Natural disasters and risk preparedness (earthquakes, floods, fires, etc.

No natural disasters


Visitor/tourism pressures

No tourism


Number of inhabitants within the property and the buffer zone

Estimated population located within the area of nominated property and buffer zone: 100 000 Year: 2011

No conservation, no listed monuments of any kind

[27] “On the progress of reconstruction five-storey dilapidated housing until the year 2000”, 20 January 1998, dmg?show&nd=8308335


5. Protection and management 5.a


5.b 5.c

Protective Designation Means of implementing protective measures Existing plans related to municipality and region in which the proposed property is located Property management plan or other management system Sources and levels of finance Sources of expertise and training in conservation and management techniques Visitor facilities and statistics Policies and programs related to the presentation and promotion of the property Staffing levels


5.e 5.f 5.g 5.h 5.i 5.j


There are few levels of ownership: The land in Belyayevo belongs to the municipality The buildings belong in majority to the municipality. There are a few Partnerships of Homeowners (rus. Ɍɨɜɚɪɢɳɟɫɬɜɨ ɋɨɛɫɬɜɟɧɧɢɤɨɜ ɀɢɥɶɹ), but they do not constitute more than 5% of houses in the Moscow sleeping districts The flats may be private or belong to the municipality “Genplan 2025” (General Plan of Moscow 2025)

No hotels, no museums. Multitude of restaurants and bars in the campus of the People’s Friendship University -

Appendix: how to preserve Belyayevo The case of Belyayevo differs from the previous cases of preservation. We are not going to protect it because of the unique value of its architecture as such, but because of the existence of a valuable intangible component. It is a totally new situation, which needs a totally new approach. Nowadays we already have a set of standard rules and patterns related to the question of preservation in the traditional understanding. There is a set of universal rules, which we follow to preserve architecture in the case of its inclusion into the UNESCO list of the World Heritage. Protection of architecture because of existence of an intangible component is a totally different kind of phenomenon; there are no ready-made patterns to follow. The immaterial cultural heritage cannot be treated the same as the tangible architectural legacy. Culture cannot be counted, measured; there are no strict typologies. Therefore, each of such cases should be examined individually; each of them needs its own strategy of preservation appropriate for the given location, type of cultural heritage, history, etc. 87

The value of Belyayevo is supported by the existence of Moscow Conceptualism. As mentioned above, the connection between this art and architecture is complex. On the one hand, architecture was influencing the artists. On the other hand, artistic activity was definitely an added value to architecture. That is why I think the strategy of preservation should also be double. On the one hand, conceptualist art should be used as an indicator of what is interesting in Belyayevo’s architecture. Based on that, a strategy of preserving architecture should be established. On the other hand, the cultural layer in Belyayevo, being so important, should not only support the preservation of architecture, but also be an object of preservation itself.

Totality As I have been trying to prove, totality is an immanent feature of the Rayon, which is directly caused by Khrushchev’s Manifesto. On the other hand, artists gladly appropriated this idea – the concept of total art was essential for the work of Moscow Conceptualists.

Built after Perestroika

Built between Khrushchev’s speach and Perestroika

Date Number of residential buildings built -1917 1917-1928 1929-1940 1941-1945 1946-1955 1956-1965 1966-1975 1976-1985 1986-1995 1996-2004 2005

Built before Khrushchev

There is a question though, how to deal with this feature when creating a preservation strategy. Partial preservation of something as total and holistic as a Soviet “sleeping district” is probably impossible. It also does not seem necessary. This kind of architecture is covering 80% of Moscow’s area. The reputation of such housing and the surrounding layout is fairly bad due to the mediocre living conditions, small apartments, etc. The buildings themselves were designed for no more than several decades; the technology used makes preservation difficult and probably expensive. Moreover, if we look at current demographic situation in Russia, it is also doubtful that there will be a new wave of urbanization, which will overwhelm the Rayon. It will be the dominant landscape for many years to come. Finally, the Soviet construction factories are still working; they are continuously producing new series of houses, which makes the Rayon self-preserving. The old series of houses are simply replaced with the new ones. All this leads us to the conclusion that the Rayon should not be put under total protection. In the case of architecture of such scale and uniformity, it seems more appropriate to emphasize (and therefore protect) the importance of certain key elements.

2406 1111

Amount of buildings in Moscow built in different epochs 2396 276 3020 12435 7761 3740 2265 3871 365


Comparison of the area of Belyayevo and the center of Moscow within the Boulevard Ring


Territory of Moscow center inside the Boulevard Ring




The model of Belyayevo from the original project – a composition of ready-made objects in space


Objects If we look into the process of laying the Rayon out, we will come to the conclusion that this kind of project consists mostly of ready‐ made objects distributed in space. The buildings themselves are for the most part mere repetitive elements of a series – pre-designed units, optimized for cost and efficiency. The influence of an architect on the design of such an object was not significant – his task was largely limited to creating the most perfect composition of those objects. In Belyayevo, for example, the diversity of composition of houses is surprisingly considerable. The way of preservation which seems to be the most appropriate is to identify the most interesting parts of composition and preserve its geometry. As mentioned earlier, the temporary character of the buildings was their inherent feature; therefore the old elements can be replaced with newer ones which meet all the requirements of today. Yet the basic geometry of the Rayon (the architects’ contribution) would be preserved. In the case of Belyayevo, I would protect the composition of buildings located in the south-eastern sub-district. Firstly, this is the part where the initial layout did not change much – even though there are newly erected buildings, their presence does not disturb the original panorama. Secondly, this is the only place where we can really talk about any “panorama.” The existing open space – a large pond – makes the whole composition and the whole idea of the architect much more understandable than in any other place. The rhythm of the high towers in the skyline is easily legible. The presence of water and greenery emphasizes the positive impression while the wide open space makes the buildings look a little bit like architectural models.


Flat of an Prigov marked with a special, different panel

The house in Belyayevo, where Dmitri Prigov used to live until his death in 2007 Is it possible to create a new series\ which would commemorate Prigov?


Repetitiveness Conceptualist artists often used repetition as a means of expression. An object or a word repeated tens, hundreds or thousands of times definitely has a different meaning than just one object or one word. With regard to architecture, repetition is perceived as a mostly negative feature leading to monotony, boredom, ugliness. I propose to make use of the idea of repetition as a factor which would add something to the existing neighborhoods. Some buildings are preserved because of the fact that some important individual used to live there. As we set up a commemorative plaque in such a case, so we can embed the memory into a whole series of buildings. Instead of claiming that “Dmitri Prigov lived in this very house, this is the view from his window,” we can say: “Dmitri Prigov lived in such a house, overlooking such a landscape.”




Juxtaposition two plans. On the left – an organic fragment of Moscow’s center. On the right Belyayevo with its repetitive composition

Joints within a panel

Leaking roofs

Mosaic on the facades

Vertical joints between the panels


Opposite page: possible technical problems of preservation of the panel blocks

I propose to design a new series of houses, which would be based on the building in Belyayevo where Prigov used to live and create his works. The panel block which indicates his flat would be different from others to commemorate the great artist. This is entirely possible: new series are still being designed. The most popular one of today is called P-44. To preserve the continuity, I propose to call the new series P-99. In this case, the P obviously stands for “Prigov,” the 99 refers to Prigov’s article about his neighborhood – “Belyayevo 99 and Forever.” As regards the original house of Prigov and his actual apartment, I would propose a traditional way of preservation. This building has its own story to tell, connected closely with Prigov’s artistic heritage. The apartment, thanks to the efforts of his family, is preserved in the state close to original. The view from the window is very touching for someone who knows Prigov’s art. Converting this apartment into a sort of Prigov’s museum would also be a step to make modernist architecture more “normal.” Usually it is old houses in city centers that become converted into houses-museums. It might be that Prigov’s apartment would be the first one in a panel block to bear this name.


Moreover, putting this building under protection would be a proving ground for preservation of panel blocks in general. Preserving this kind of building poses a serious technical problem. Take, for example, a façade made of panels: the slits between panels, the tiles on the surface, their thickness, etc. Whereas the problem of leaking roofs (a common weak point of panel blocks) seems easily solvable, a mere addition of another layer of insulation (which can irreversibly destroy the façade) could be quite a challenge.


Emptiness Emptiness is one of the most prominent features of the Rayon. Enormous spaces between buildings that looked like attractive green areas in projects became in reality huge chunks of nothingness. Devoid of function, practically deprived of an owner who would be responsible for them, those spaces became a no man’s land of the modern age. Yet we cannot call these spaces useless. They exerted certain influence on Soviet art – both intangible (i.e., the nothingness that was part of “Collective Actions’” group performances) and practical (a convenient place for the Bulldozer Exhibition). Therefore, at least a piece of this emptiness should be protected.

I think that, preserving this emptiness, one should take into consideration its multilayered structure (empty space, legal void, no owner, no function, etc.). A piece of emptiness which I propose to preserve is the very same wasteland where the Bulldozer Exhibition took place in 1974. To commemorate this event I propose to rid the place of all kinds of stalls, booths and other temporary structures and change its name to, for instance, Bulldozer Square. During the Moscow Art Biennale[28] and other significant art events, that piece of emptiness could be used as an open-air exhibition space, following the place’s tradition. To continue with changing names: turning Belyayevo into the Duchy of Prigov would in turn legitimize Prigov’s act of appropriation inspired by the emptiness. The Duchy of Prigov has an ironic reference to the abundance of empty space already embedded into its name.

Opposite page: a piece of empty land can be converted into a temporary exhibition space.


[28] The Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art – one of the most important Russian cultural events, founded 2003

Duchy of Prigov As I said, the intangible heritage cannot be a mere indicator of what is worth preserving – it also ought to be the object of preservation itself. It is impossible (and I think also pointless) to attempt recreating the culture that existed in Belyayevo several dozens of years ago. But it should be our aim to create the conditions for new cultural activities to emerge, and therefore to save the brand of Belyayevo as a culture-rich district. I propose to rebrand Belyayevo, using the name “the Duchy of Prigov.” The neighborhood should still be called Belyayevo, the Duchy of Prigov referring only to the intangible cultural activity happening parallel to everyday life. There is already a big potential to support the development of culture. Belyayevo has a rich history and its own legend of a cultural neighborhood. Potentially, there are places which can be used for cultural activity: two exhibition spaces (the Belyayevo Art Gallery and the Bulldozer Square), a movie theater (Vityaz) and a museum (Prigov’s apartment). There are also two amazing public spaces which might be used for any kind of events – the park around the pond and the orchard.

I propose to (re)fill the above-mentioned places with maximally diverse and fresh artistic activity. As mentioned earlier, the Bulldozer Square can be used, for example, during the Moscow Biennale. The Belyayevo Art Gallery, which over the last years mutated into something similar to a local “house of culture,” should be given back to contemporary artists. The Vityaz cinema could go back to its tradition of playing non-mainstream movies – maybe with the help of a distinguished institution like the Kino-Muzey[29] (“Cinema Museum”) having a lot of experience in running cinemas. All those various activities should in my opinion be gathered under one name – the Duchy of Prigov. The Duchy of Prigov must by no means be a formal institution – it ought to be no more than a wisely promoted brand, which would attract both artists and spectators. Those few possibilities of artistic activity that I have mentioned are just examples – Moscow is filled with artistic life. I have no doubt that Belyayevo could quickly become home for some of it.

[29] Kino-Muzey (founded 1992) – is a non-profit, educational and cultural organization; is not only playing masterpieces of Russian and foreign cinematography, it also collects, classifies and describes the movie materials on history or film culture


Prigov’s paintings are very diverse and inspiring. And what if elements taken from his art would appear in the Duchy...?


Duchy of Prigov





L.N. Avdotin, “Gradostroitelne Proyektirovaniye”, Moskva Stroizdat 1989, p. 163

“Afonia”, dir. G. Daneliya, writ. A. Borodyansky, perf. B. Brondukov, USSR 1975

E. Degot, „D.A. Prigov, Citizens! Please mind yourselves! Works on paper, installations, books, readings, performance, and opera”, Moscow Museum of Modern Art Publishing Program 2008, p. 214

“Assa”, dir. S. Soloviov, writ. S. Soloviov, S. Livnev, perf. A. Domogarov, T. Drubich, USSR 1987

G. Kizevalter, “Eti strannye semdesyatye, ili poterya nevinnosti”, Novoe Literaturnoe Obozreniye Moskva 2010, p. 161 „On the extensive introduction of industrial methods and improving the quality of, and and reducing the cost of, construction”, Proyect Rossiya, March 2002 „Belyayevo-Kon’kovskiy zhiloy massiv”, Stroitielstvo i Arkhitektura Moskvy, Sep. 1966

„Ironiya sudby, ili S legkim parom!”, dir. E. Ryazanov, writ. E. Ryazanov, perf. B.Brylska, A. Miagkov, USSR 1975 “Kurier”, dir. K. Shakhnazarov, writ. K. Shakhnazarov, A. Borodyansky, perf. F. Dunayevsky, USSR 1986 “Osenniy Marafon”, dir. G. Daneliya, writ. A. Volodin, perf. O. Basilashvili, N. Gundareva, M. Neyolova, USSR 1979

Anna Bronovitskaya, “Mulyazh”, Bolshoy Gorod, 18 April 2005

“Vse umrut, a ya ostanus”, dir. V. Guy Germanika, writ. Y. Klavdiyev, A. Rodionov, perf. Y. Aleksandrova, P. Filonenko, A. Kuznetsova, Russia 2008



13, 57 “Format for the nomination of properties for the inscription on the World Heritage List”, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, World Heritage Centre 2008, p.103

18-19, 94, 100-101 by Dasha Paramonova

30 „On the extensive introduction of industrial methods and improving the quality of, and and reducing the cost of, construction”, Proyect Rossiya, March 2002 52 Dmitri Prigov, “Belyayevo 99 and Forever” 59 “Criteria for the assessment of outstanding universal value”, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, World Heritage Centre 2008, p.20 65 Viktor Erofeev, Dmitri Prigov, Vladimir Sorokin, “EPS”, Zebra E 2002 71 Ilya Kabakov, Introduction to the lecture “On the Total Installation”, glossary2004/installation.htm 71

22, 23, 24, 29, 33, 35t, 35b, 35r, 37, 41, 80t, 80b, 80l, 83, 92, 94, 96 by Kuba Snopek

Illustrations: 9 Erik Bulatov, “Ne Prislonyatsya”, 1984,

55 G. Kizevalter, “Eti strannye semdesyatye, ili poterya nevinnosti”, Novoe Literaturnoe Obozreniye Moskva 2010, p. 161

14, 16, 17, 64r, 90-91 „Belyayevo-Kon’kovskiy zhiloy massiv”, Stroitielstvo i Arkhitektura Moskvy, Sep. 1966

62, 63t

15 General Plan of Moscow, 1971, 20 Snapshots from the American satellite, 1979, 25, 26, 27 “The list of standard and individual residential buildings for construction in Moscow”, Main Architectural Planning Department of Moscow – Technical Department, 1976 34 Alessandra Latur, “Moskva 1890-2000”, Isskustvo XXI vek 2009 36t 39 L.N. Avdotin, “Gradostroitelne Proyektirovaniye”, Moskva Stroizdat 1989, p. 163 40 42l, 43l, 44l, 46 “Afonia”, dir. G. Daneliya, writ. A. Borodyansky, perf. B. Brondukov, USSR 1975 42r, 43r, 47 “Vse umrut, a ya ostanus”, dir. V. Guy Germanika, writ. Y. Klavdiyev, A. Rodionov, perf. Y. Aleksandrova, P. Filonenko, A. Kuznetsova, Russia 2008 44r „Ironiya sudby, ili S legkim parom!”, dir. E. Ryazanov, writ. E. Ryazanov, perf. B.Brylska, A. Miagkov, USSR 1975 45l “Osenniy Marafon”, dir. G. Daneliya, writ. A. Volodin, perf. O. Basilashvili, N. Gundareva, M. Neyolova, USSR 1979 45r “Kurier”, dir., writ. K. Shakhnazarov, A. Borodyansky, perf. F. Dunayevsky, USSR 1986 48 50 Anna Bronovitskaya, “Mulyazh”, Bolshoy Gorod, 18 April 2005 51, 66, 68, 99 E. Degot, „D.A. Prigov, Citizens! Please mind yourselves! Works on paper, installations, books, readings, performance, and opera”, Moscow Museum of Modern Art Publishing Program 2008, pp 214, 262, 264-265 53l 53r

63b 64l A. Monastyrskiy, „Elementarnaya Poeziya No. 2, Atlas”, Moskva 1975, p. 9 65 70 “Irina Nakhova: Rooms”, Moscow Museum of Modern Art 2011, pp 8-9 72, 73 E. Degot, V. Zakharov, “Moskovskiy Kontseptualizm”, Izdatel’stvo WAM Moskva 2005, pp 272, 274-275 74-75 “Sovetskaya Imperiya – Khrushchevki”, dir. Elizaveta Listova, Russia 2007 76 79 83

Citizens! Everything has come to its logical end. So what? Dmitri Prigov


Profile for Kuba Snopek

Belyayevo Forever – Preservation of the Intangible Heritage  

The book is an outcome of work at the Strelka Institute in Moscow in the academic year 2010/2011 (author: Kuba Snopek, director of the studi...

Belyayevo Forever – Preservation of the Intangible Heritage  

The book is an outcome of work at the Strelka Institute in Moscow in the academic year 2010/2011 (author: Kuba Snopek, director of the studi...