The unbuildable tomb: the Palace of the Soviets
Although the narrative of this competition is officially confined to 19291937, as evident from different, even opposing, records, it is complex and drawn out. For example, the number of the competition stages could be understood to vary from three (spanning over three years) to four or even eight years (spanning more than 30 years 1922-1959). I will focus on the short period of time in the early 1930s (1931-1934) because
this period tends to be accepted as the phase during which the most extreme changes occurred. However, an earlier competition in 1922, albeit under a different name of the Palace of Labour and on a different site, conceptually opened up a space for the formulation of the Palace brief. You may question the placement of Konstantin Melnikov’s entry, combining contrasting elements of pyramid and coliseum, in a narrative of the Palace of the Soviets. The reasoning is simple and is corroborated by several authors because all of the necessary conceptual elements for the Palace have been created earlier and in multiple locations than it was officially recorded. Additionally, it seems that Melnikov had a good sense of which competitions were going to result in an actual commission and used this particular one as an opportunity for exploring more abstract architectural ideas.