Over the past few years, a large number of materials devoted to Kiev modernism have appeared in the network. Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer began to speak about the buildings from a different point of view: as a masterpiece architecture and unique, as a cultural heritage that can be proud of and should be preserved.
Kiev Crematorium is one of the most frequently mentioned buildings in the context of the architecture of Kiev modernism. In the 60s, people began to talk publicly about the tragedy of Babi Yar (during the Second World War, mass executions were carried out there, and the bodies of the dead were burned), so the idea of cremation caused negative associations and reactions in the community. And yet, in 1968, on the territory of the Baikovo cemetery, the oldest and one of the most famous in Ukraine, the construction of the complex began. He became one of 3 built in the territory of the Ukrainian SSR. Architect Abraham Miletsky and spouses Ada Ribalchuk and Vladimir Melnichenko worked on the project for 13 years.
According to the plan of the Miletsky crematorium it should be a purely functional building, but the project did not satisfy the artists who wanted to make it a place where people who only lost someone close could feel healing after the injury. They planned to create such an effect using architecture and landscape design. So in the project of the crematorium with farewell halls were added the Memory Park and the earthen trails of the columbarium.
Kiev crematorium forms several buildings. In the administrative building with a VIP room for farewell, refrigerators and other rooms come to arrange the cremation. The architectural feature of the case is the almost complete absence of right angles in it. In the famous concrete building in the form of space hemispheres there are 2 large halls for parting. The decoration of one of them is a blue bas-relief created in 1975 by Ada Rybalchuk and Vladimir Melnichenko. They also planned here stained-glass stained-glass windows on white walls that were never made.
For cremation, 4 dual gas furnaces are used, located in an earthen hill, to which underground corridors lead. The temperature in each of the furnaces is thousands of degrees. A few hours from the bodies burned with the coffins, there are about 3 liters of ash, which is placed in special bins.
To strengthen the slopes of the mountain on which the cemetery is located, the Memory Park was given a structure of a mound with terraces. In addition, a 200 meter wall was erected for the same purpose. However, she had to perform another function. According to the project, Rybalchuk and Melnichenko should have a concrete bas-relief on the wall - the embodiment of human life through a series of plots (from mythological to episodes of post-war reconstruction) in order to distract the bereaved from their loss and cause reflections on more global things. An artificial lake was designed in front of the wall, in which panel elements reflected in bright glaze would be reflected. It took the artists 10 years to prepare the wall, to fashion all the sculptures, to make the necessary frames, but, unfortunately, they did not succeed in completing this magnificent project. In December 1981, the party leadership ordered the bas-relief destroyed, referring to the inconsistency of the work with the principles of socialist realism. Later, memos were found that indicated “too large, non-Slavic noses of bas-reliefs”. As a result, for three months, 300 KamAZs were poured concrete on the wall until all the elements were hidden.
Later, even artists from Europe and America were ready to invest in the restoration of the panel, but neither the Soviet authorities nor the authorities of the times of independence show any interest in this. And now that once could become a masterpiece, turned into a concrete wall overgrown with ivy.
More than 12,000 cremations occur annually in the crematorium, which is about 35 every day. The territory of the crematorium is always open to visitors, and from the mountain, where the complex is located, offers a beautiful view of Kiev.
Translation by: Iryna Makuha