Blue Crow Media is an independent publisher producing a series of urban architecture maps. The company’s latest work is the Moscow Metro Architecture & Design Map – a bilingual, cartographic guide curated by architectural historian Nikolai Vassiliev. The book features photography by Alexei Narodizkiy and an introduction by Nikolai Shumakov, president of the Union of Architects of Russia and chief architect of numerous stations presented on the map.
We asked founder Derek Lamberton to give us a flavour of the new book – and what inspired him to publish it.
I studied in Moscow in the early 2000s, and fell in love with the city's architecture and metro. The latter is best known for its baroque Stalin-era interiors – but the system has evolved over generations, and today’s metro even features remarkable contemporary designs by Shumakov and other leading Russian architects.
The guidebooks I had 15 years ago dated from the Soviet era – and although the content was occasionally high quality, the formats and materials were certainly not. So both the 2016 Constructivist Moscow Map and this year’s Moscow Metro Architecture & Design Map were opportunities to make editors Natalia Melikova and Nikolai Vassiliev's expertise available to everyone in an affordable, original and well-designed format. Fortunately, we've had a lot of support from bookshops around Moscow – and we are working on a third 20th century map, to be published in 2020.
The city is enormous, fascinating and difficult to grasp. I hope that by providing insight into particular layers, it becomes more accessible and easier to comprehend.
Below are notable stations from different eras of Moscow’s ever-growing “Palace for the People”.
Architect: D. Chechulin
This Stalin-era underground temple is complete with three naves and three rows of flat light-filled cupolas. The impressive column capitals and walls represent the first use of porcelain on a grand scale in the Metro.
Architects/artists: A. Dushkin, A. Deineka, E. Kibalnikov
Massive pillars are replaced here by thin elegant arches with inlaid steel ribbons – originally intended for a nearby Zeppelin factory. Romantic flight-themed ceiling mosaics display the sky, from factory chimneys to paratroopers, over 24 hours across the land of the Soviets.
Architects/artists: L. Pavlov, M. Zelenin, N. Ilyin, E. Yanson-Manizer, G. Rublev, I. Iordansky
Image: Mikhail (Vokabre) Shcherbakov/Wikimedia Commons.
With its distinctive limestone arches, this station is dedicated to ancient Russian architecture.
Reliefs depict traditional tasks from across the Soviet republics. The entrance pavilion is in a festive Classical style, with Red Star chandeliers illuminating the interior.
Architects/artists: A. Strelkov, V. Klokov, N. Demchinsky, Yu. Kolesnikova, J. Bodniek, Kh. Rysin, A. Mosiychuk
Dedicated to flight and aviation, the central hall of this highly decorated Socialist-Modernist station features a luminous anodised metal ceiling and a polished steel sculpture of the mythical Icarus.
Architects/artists: N. Shumakov, A. Nekrasov, G. Moon, V. Fillipov
The design and lighting of this recently built underground hall, devoid of figurative imagery, reflects onto the polished dark floor to create a remarkable abstract scene. The concentric design is perhaps in homage to other station features, such as Krasnye Vorota’s iconic entrance and Lubyanka’s circular motifs.
The Moscow Metro Architecture & Design Map, in English and Russian, is part of a series of urban architecture maps by Blue Crow Media. All available here.
For more on Moscow, check out this episode of our podcast, Skylines.
All photographs except Dobryninskaya courtesy of Alexei Narodizkiy/Blue Crow Media.