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13 Jun, 2007 02:13

Moscow's architectural heritage in crisis

Hundreds of old buildings in Moscow are being demolished, while others are remodelled in an unimaginative fashion. The Moscow Architectural Preservation Society says the Russian capital is in danger of becoming an artificial city.

Moscow's Architecture Preservation Society (MAPS) claims almost a thousand buildings have already been lost, whether demolished to make way for new ones, or renovated with a new or altered facade.

For instance, there are real fears that the inside of the world-famous children's department store, Detskiy Mir, could be completely stripped of its original fixtures and fittings, or even that it could be completely rebuilt.

The store was designed by a Soviet architect, Aleksey Dushkin, shortly before he gave up the profession.

“It is illegal to demolish a cultural heritage site.  It's a criminal offence. I have not seen any examples of this. There have been cases of sites not being on the cultural value list, and torn down, but we have created a special commission to deal with this,” said Valery Shevchuk from Moscow Cultural Legacy committee.

“Moscow does a lot of restoration around the town. During the last five or ten years around 500 important sites of great interest have been restored. They are really beautiful,” he added.