The bird’s eye view of Svoboda Square
Svoboda Square adjoins Sumska Street. Its unique architectural ensemble is known far beyond Ukraine.
First of all it must be noted that the 1920s were
a turning point for the town planning of Kharkiv. On the one hand, this
was caused by a lack of housing in the city — the years of the
revolution, the Civil War and the struggle with interventionists, when
practically no construction had been carried on, adversely affected it.
On the other hand, the new political system demanded unprecedented
embodiments of its power in everything including architecture. It
caused an intense competition between conservative and avant-garde
trends that at that time were reflected in the city planning.
Svobody square's unusual form resembles of a retort
example, a big apartment block for the Yugostal Trust employees (at
116 Sumska Street) and the Noviy Byt (New Life) block of dwelling
houses in Danilevskoho Street (##18–26)
were approximately simultaneously constructed. The apartments of 5- and 6-storeyed
houses lacked kitchens as they were to be replaced by a special kitchen-factory
(it was believed that a Soviet person, freed from the burden of
cooking, could do more good for the country). Later the building of the
was transformed into a military school and
the tenants of «Noviy Byt» had to install baths and gas stoves in the
corridors and bathrooms. And the «health and safety» experiment in
apartment blocks at #71 and #73 in Sumska Street, where baths and water
heaters were installed directly in the kitchen-rooms!!
In short, it was the time of brave ideas and non-standard
decisions and one of them is the architectural complex in Svoboda Square.
Rectangular side of Svobody square. On the left — the Palace of Creative Activities for Children and Youth, on the right — the buildings of the «Kharkiv» Hotel and the House of Design and Construction Organizations
In the middle of the 1920s a great number of different
offices and organisations were concentrated in the capital city of
Kharkiv. To provide for their operation a lot of housing facilities
were required. The pre-revolutionary administrative
buildings were occupied by the local government bodies; the republican
government bodies were provisionally offered apartment blocks, like the
above mentioned one, that belonged to the Salamander Insurance Company.
But it did not solve the problem as the staff of different institutions
To solve the accommodation problem, it was decided to erect a whole complex of special buildings.
Svoboda Square panorama
With this aim a State joint-stock
company was organised, and many republican trusts, e. g. Prombank,
Vneshtorg and Gostorg became its members. It took long to choose
a construction site for the prospective giant, but eventually the site
to the north-west
of Sumska Street was chosen. Until the end of the 18th
this land had belonged to Kharkiv military residents that had inherited
it from their ancestors (the Cossacks). At the beginning of the 19th
century they passed this land over to University for the construction of the university buildings. At the beginning of the 20th
the clinics and other buildings of the University Medical School were
situated there, and beyond them there stretched the waste ground cut
Svobody square (view from Gosprom)
In 1923 a competition of projects for the planning of
this territory was held. The project by a young architect V. Trotsenko
won this competition. This project envisaged the layout of new blocks
of apartment blocks for workers in the form of concentric circles
divided by radial streets coming from a round square (park). This
planning idea was used later in 1924 when a decision to construct a new
square was taken. The project by V. Trotsenko was sent to the
participants of a new competition as a planning basis and the
competition took place in 1925.
Soon the marking of the territory for the construction
of a complex of administrative buildings (the House of State Industry,
(Derzhprom) was the most important among them) was carried out. Three
blocks in the inner circle of the square were allotted for Derzhprom.
A new district was being formed around it. The present-day
Pravda Avenue, Chichibabina Street, Danilevskoho Street,
Kul’tury Street used to form the rings that were crossed by
Lenin Avenue, Halana Street, Romen Rollana Street,
Henry Barbussa Street and Passionariya Slope that connected
Svoboda Square with Klochkivska Street, which lay at the bottom of the
hills. The development of this site was basically completed in the pre-war years. To clear the view of Derzhprom from Sumska Street, the land around it was levelled and some low-rising buildings were demolished.
Today Svoboda Square — one of the largest squares in the world (almost
12 hectars) — consists of a rectangular part that fronts onto
Sumska Street and a circular part that is connected with Lenin Avenue.
The length of the square is 750m, the width of the rectangular part —
130m, the diameter of the circle — 350m. The unusual layout of the
square that reminds a retort was the result of the efforts to make its
clear-cut. It was also the result of the
spatial division of it into a rectangular part, which is the city’s
main «forum», and a circular part, in the centre of which a park was
laid out. On the rectangular north side of the square there is
Kharkiv Hotel and an office building. The east side, that adjoins
Sumska Street, is enclosed by the building of Kharkiv Regional State
Administration and Regional Council. Along the south side the square is
framed by the side face of the Youth Palace and Taras Shevchenko City
Garden. In the circular part of the square there are three grand
buildings: Derzhprom, V. Karazin Kharkiv National University and the
Military University. Under the surface of the square there is an
interchange section of underground stations crossing at different
levels : Universytet Station (Saltivka line) and Derzhprom Station
The architectural pattern of the buildings is varied, but the
observance of continuity in the compositional solutions gives the
unique architectural ensemble its integrity and completeness.