Tatlin's Tower

Tatlin’s Tower (1919–20), was a design for a grand monumental building by the Russian artist and architect Vladimir Tatlin, that was never built

Tatlin's tower, 1919
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Tatlin’s Tower, or the project for the Monument to the Third International (1919–20), was a design for a grand monumental building by the Russian artist and architect Vladimir Tatlin, that was never built. 

Worker and Kolkhoz Woman was among achievements of the 20th century in the arts to be commemorated in Russian stamps in 2000 (depicted with Tatlin's Tower)
pinterest button Worker and Kolkhoz Woman was among achievements of the 20th century in the arts to be commemorated in Russian stamps in 2000 (depicted with Tatlin's Tower) Russia Post Office, 2000, Public Domain

It was planned to be erected in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, as the headquarters and monument of the Comintern (the third international).

Plans

Tatlin's Constructivist tower was to be built from industrial materials: iron, glass and steel. In materials, shape and function, it was envisaged as a towering symbol of modernity. It would have dwarfed the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The tower's main form was a twin helix which spiraled up to 400 m in height, around which visitors would be transported with the aid of various mechanical devices.

Tatlin's tower, 1919
pinterest button Tatlin's tower, 1919 unknown, Public Domain

The main framework would contain four large suspended geometric structures. These structures would rotate at different rates. At the base of the structure was a cube which was designed as a venue for lectures, conferences and legislative meetings, and this would complete a rotation in the span of one year. Above the cube would be a smaller pyramid housing executive activities and completing a rotation once a month. Further up would be a cylinder, which was to house an information centre, issuing news bulletins and manifestos via telegraph, radio and loudspeaker, and would complete a rotation once a day. At the top, there would be a hemisphere for radio equipment. There were also plans to install a gigantic open-air screen on the cylinder, and a further projector which would be able to cast messages across the clouds on any overcast day.

Evaluations

Even if the gigantic amount of required steel had been available in bankrupt post-revolutionary Russia, in the context of housing shortages and political turmoil, there are serious doubts about its structural practicality.

Symbolically, the tower was said to represent the aspirations of its originating country and a challenge to the Eiffel Tower as the foremost symbol of modernity. Soviet critic Viktor Shklovsky is said to have called it a monument «made of steel, glass and revolution.»

Models

There are models of Tatlin’s Tower at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, at Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and at Musée National d'Art Moderne at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Model of Tatlin's Tower in the courtyard of the Royal Academy, London.
pinterest button Model of Tatlin's Tower in the courtyard of the Royal Academy, London. TobyJ, CC BY-SA 3.0

A 1:42 model was built at The Royal Academy of Arts, London in November 2011. In 1989 the firm Edra produced a sofa named «Tatlin» inspired to the tower, designed by Mario Cananzi e Roberto Semprini.

Useful Information

Tatlin’s Tower, or the project for the Monument to the Third International

Description

  • Native name: Памятник III Интернационалу
  • Location: Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
  • Status: cancelled
  • Constructed: Never
  • Building uses: monument, communications, conferences, government, other
  • Structural types: other, flag, revolving floor, sign, truss
  • Materials: glass, steel, iron
  • Height: 400 m (1,312 ft)
  • It was designed to surpass the Eiffel Tower by a third part of its height.
  • Architect: Vladimir Tatlin
  • Team "Creative Collective": Iosif A. Meerzon, Pavel Vinogradov, Tevel Markovich Shapiro
  • Its tilt is the same as Earth: 23.5 degrees.
  • The cube was designed to host the congresses of the Third International and make a full rotation each year. The pyramid would make a spin in 30 days and would be the place for the bureaucracy. The thin cylinder was to revolve in a day and host a newspaper. A radio station was to be placed in the little dome at the top.
  • Structure style: constructivism