Lofty high-tech buildings, spires of monuments that seem to penetrate clouds, broad bands of thoroughfares, distinct squares of parks-oases… A city of dream, city of future. Or, to be more precise, the city of Minsk seen by designers 60 years ago.
I am looking at the pictures that Galina Shostak with the Belarusian state archive of scientific and technical documentation shows me, and I am shocked to see the audaciousness and grandeur of the architects: residential quarters that look modern even now, fantastic domes of roofs and flat sections with open-air gardens, arches of bridges… Near me is another set of pictures — the remains of the hotel “Europe”, the Academy of Sciences and the Opera Theater, all demolished in World War II, building carcasses behind barb wire, torn rails near the railway station with inscriptions on walls still in German, as there was not enough time to get rid of the aliens’ signboards.
Clear enough, not all ideas of the architects that rebuilt the city became real tangible buildings. Many of them remained on paper and now belong to history and archives. Not all forecasts proved right, and some decisions were inefficient. Too many cars, people say, making way to thousands of vehicles that seem to think that wide avenues and streets are not enough, but any capital city of the world has plenty of grumblers who believe downtown should become a no-go area for cars.
We should say “thank you” to all those who spared no effort trying to restore Minsk as a phoenix, however impossible their plans sounded. Architecture is a very modest and discreet art, as few people know who designed the building where they live. Architectural masterpieces very rarely bear tablets with the names of their creators.
Too bad… To get over the nostalgic feeling I decided to take a couple of copies of old designs to a very significant site of the city center — the hotel “Europe”, which is growing like a stairway to heaven. My head turns skywards as I compare the outline of the new building and the specimen of old architecture, and suddenly they coincide and make one and the same entity. This coincidence of time and space is called Eternity, they say.
by Liudmila Kurganovich