Fantasy had an important role in Soviet design. Challenged to think beyond boundaries, architects and artists had the chance to give free reign to their imaginations and to build the stuff of dreams. ‘We were born to turn fairy tales into reality,’ starts the 1923 song Aviamarsh (‘The March of the Aviators’), sung at parades across the country.

While many design fantasies were realised, some only came close. A famous example of unfulfilled Soviet architectural dreams is the Palace of the Soviets in Moscow, for which the huge Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was demolished. Construction was started, but eventually abandoned, and the foundations were used to form the world’s largest outdoor swimming pool.

The freedom to dream was not consistently applied. Avant-garde artists, writers, designers, and architects pushed creative boundaries endlessly throughout the early Soviet period. The 1932 official approval of the Socialist Realism school, however, left the avant-garde out of favour, tarred with the brush of its pre-Revolutionary roots.


Unrealised design by V.S. Rozhnovskii for a monument to Lenin in the port of Leningrad, in Annual of the Society of Architects/Artists, no. 4 (1935). CCA.54.1015(2)

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