Shukhov Tower: The Eiffel of the East

The proposed demolition of a rusting Soviet radio tower in Moscow has ignited a passionate, international conservation campaign. Why?

The slender, steel frame of the Shabolovka Tower rises above the rooftops of Moscow. At 160m (525ft) high, it is a single exclamation mark in an otherwise dense urban landscape. Its filigree design gives it a delicate and ephemeral quality, but the radio tower has been a fixture of the skyline since 1922.

Commissioned by Lenin in 1919, the tower is commonly referred to as the Shukhov Tower after its designer – leading engineer Vladimir Shukhov, whose pioneering architectural vision first brought news of the modern world to the Soviet people.

“Communication and radio was the new thing, the latest technology at the time. Shukhov’s tower was spreading the word of the new age,” says Richard Pare, who first photographed the tower in 1993.

“It is a transcendent structure. The sensation of standing underneath it is so uplifting, it makes you feel weightless. It soars upwards.”

Pare is the co-author of an open letter to President Vladimir Putin, signed by a number of renowned architects, urging that the tower be preserved. But in February, Russia’s State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting declared the structure unsound and proposed to dismantle it. Campaigners now await an official decision. More here Shukhov Tower: The Eiffel of the East.

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