How an extravagant centipede skyscraper appeared in Moscow, and what did the settlers think about it
It is possible to joke that apartment houses “on legs” appeared in Russia in the era of Baba Yaga. But seriously, these buildings first gained popularity in the 20-30s of the last century. One of the most interesting such architectural projects is the Moscow high-rise building on Begovaya Street. The people called this house “Centipede House”. However, whatever they call it …
Why did buildings on high massive pillars suddenly appear in an ordinary big city? Is it really just the strange quirks of the architects?
One of the reasons for the appearance of these residential buildings is the unpopularity of the first floor of potential tenants – as is well known, in many ways, it is inconvenient. Perhaps it could be the first, experimental swallows of the unrealized idea of mass construction of such houses. The second reason, of course, was the need for creative freedom and the desire to give the building an image of something flying, which well reflected the era of change in a young Soviet country and the mood of the builders of a bright future.
In Europe, the house “on legs” designed the great architect Le Corbusier, and in the USSR – the young architects constructivists. For example, in Moscow, the idea of architects Ginzburg and Milinis, with the participation of engineer Prokhorov, embodied in the shape of the house of Narkomfin on Novinsky Boulevard, and later, in the era of post-war panel houses, several other interesting buildings were also built.
However, the project of the architect Andrey Meerson, which was realized in 1978 on Begovaya Street, surpassed his Soviet predecessors in all respects. The building is very unusual, monumental and, for those times, modern.
The pillars of this interesting building are forty, so its most common nickname – “Centipede House” – is fully justified. Also, this house at various times was called “House-octopus” and “Hut on chicken legs.”
Initially, it was planned to occupy the guests of the Olympiad-80 in the wonder-building and thereby hit them with the grandeur of Soviet and Moscow architectural thought. Perhaps that is why the building is built with high quality, the ceilings in it are high (2.8 m), all rooms are designed rationally. However, as a result, most of the apartments of the new residential building were allocated to the workers of the aviation plant, which is why the Muscovites immediately called the “centipede” also the “House of Aviators”. By the way, most of the new settlers found the layout of the apartments very comfortable.
While working on the project, Meerson decided to raise the building not to one or two floors, but to four at once, thanks to which the house turned out to be harmonious and proportional. In the building of 13 floors (and originally it was supposed even more), and with short “legs”, that effect would have turned out completely.
There are two more versions of creating such high supports at home. According to one, since the original high-rise building was planned to be installed in the Water Stadium area near the Khimki Reservoir, it was necessary to leave space for people’s free passage to the pond under the long building. According to the second version, long “legs” appeared in the project precisely because the building was still decided to be built on Begovaya, not far from lively Leningradka, and its installation on supports allowed free passage of air flow, preventing the accumulation of exhaust gases from the lower floors.
No less interesting is the fact that the “legs” of the house have clear angles and extend upward, which creates a deceptive feeling of their fragility. In fact, the building is unusually stable.
The “legs” of the house are cast from reinforced concrete, the building itself is also monolithic, and its exterior is simply stunning: to someone it looks strange or even ugly, while other architectural critics consider the project incredibly interesting and even aesthetically appealing.