Moscow Metro

When I lived in Moscow I often travelled on the underground metro system, which has some of the most beautiful stations in the world. It was built by Stalin, and was a symbol of the power of the people and communism, and more important, a beacon of hope for a bright future.

The architecture is very extravagant, and in many places looks like an interior of a palace. Granite and marble are the materials of choice, with plenty of decorations and ornaments to adorn the walls and ceiling as well as mosaics, paintings and sculptures of the proletariat. Each station has its own theme, some looking back to old imperialism, others featuring hints of modern design or classical Greek architecture. This was a way to give the proletariat access to the riches of the aristocracy, something they would experience every day as they travel to work.

What’s interesting about this type of architecture is that its aim goes far beyond that of creating a functional underground system. Its aim is to promote a political ideal, and it does it through beauty by enriching lives of the people who get to experience it. The question here isn’t: how do we solve the problem of creating a metro station in an efficient manner – instead the question is: how do we create a station that elevates people’s mood and inspires their lives. This architecture isn’t there just to help you live – it makes life worth living.

January 2012