Shukhov Tower

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Coordinates: 55°43′02″N 37°36′41″E / 55.71722°N 37.61139°E / 55.71722; 37.61139

Shukhov Tower
Shukhov Tower photo by Maxim Fedorov. Night.jpg
The tower in 2007
General information
Architectural styleConstructivist architecture
Town or cityMoscow
Tip160 m (525 ft)
Design and construction
ArchitectVladimir Shukhov

The Shukhov Radio Tower (Russian: Шуховская башня), also known as the Shabolovka Tower (Russian: Шаболовская башня), is a broadcasting tower deriving from the Russian avant-garde in Moscow designed by Vladimir Shukhov. The 160-metre-high (520 ft) free-standing steel diagrid structure was built between 1920 and 1922, during the Russian Civil War.


Shabolovskaya telecentre in December 2016


Vladimir Shukhov invented the world's first hyperboloid structure in the year 1890. Later he wrote a book, Rafters, in which he proved that the triangular shapes are 20-25% heavier than the arched ones with a ray grating. After that, Shukhov filed a number of patents for a diagrid. He aimed not only to achieve greater strength and rigidity of the structure, but also ease and simplicity through the use of as little building material as possible.

The first diagrid tower was built for the All-Russia Exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod in 1896, and later was bought by Yury Nechaev-Maltsov, a well-known manufacturer in the city. Shukhov was responsible for constructions of a new types of lighthouses, masts, water towers and transmission towers.

The broadcasting tower at Shabolovka is a diagrid structure in the form of a rotated hyperboloid. The Khodynka radio station, built in 1914, could no longer handle the increasing amount of radiograms. On July 30, 1919, Vladimir Lenin signed a decree of the Council of Workers' and Peasants' Defense, which demanded "to install in an extremely urgent manner a radio station equipped with the most advanced and powerful devices and machines", to ensure the security of the country and allow constant communication with other republics. Tower designing was started immediately across many bureaus. Later that year Shukhov's Construction Office won a competition.

Shukhov's engineering talents had become popular against the background of a shortage of metal in the country during World War I and the Russian Civil War. He often used materials from disassembled bridges and factories. The complexity of the work was also determined by the lack of qualified workers; after World War I, laborers had to be trained directly at the construction site.

The planned height of the new nine-sectioned hyperbolic tower was 350 metres (1,150 ft) (15 metres (49 ft) taller than the Eiffel Tower, which was taken into consideration when creating the plan) with an estimated mass of 2,200 tons (the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tons). However, in the context of the Civil War and the lack of resources, the project had to be revised: the height was reduced to 148.5 metres (487 ft), the weight to 240 tons.[1] The new project was personally approved by Lenin.


Tower construction was carried out without any cranes and scaffolding, but only with winches. 240 tons of metal that was required for construction, was allocated by Lenin’s personal decree from the stocks of the Military Department. For lifting five wooden winches were used, which were moved to the upper sections.

The tower is composed of six sections, one above the other. Each section is an independent hyperboloid based on a larger one. Installation of each section was carried out inside the contour and then lifted up to a predetermined height. In order for the base of the section to pass, the bottom diameter was tightened, and after stretching into the installed section, it was loosened, attached and mounted. The initial project implied that the bearing ribs located in the vertical sections of the tower would contact the imaginary surface of the hyperboloid only at the nodal points located on the horizontal belts of the hyperboloid. The lower supporting ring was attached to the foundation with an anchor bolts on both sides from the nodal supporting gusset plates.

On June 29, 1921, during the uplifting of the fourth section, an accident occurred — a cable broke, and as a result the whole fourth section fell from a height of 75 meters and damaged the fifth and sixth sections, which were assembled on the ground. During the investigation, the real cause of the accident was confirmed - metal fatigue, after that work was resumed. The report on the inspection of the tower’s construction in 1937 states: “... metal of the Shukhov Tower can be attributed to the steel St - 1, St - 2 and St - 3. Samples have an overestimated content of harmful impurities: either sulfur or phosphorus, in some samples — both of them."

The sixth section was installed and finally secured on February 14, 1922. On February 28 they put a mast on the tower, after that Shukhov's job was done. On March 19, broadcasting transmitters were installed on the tower and the radio broadcasting began. The first was a concert of Russian music with the participation of Nadezhda Obukhova and Boris Evlakhov. Transmitter power on the tower was 100 kW, and the range - around 10000 km. It was more powerful than the radio stations of Paris, New York and Berlin.


The Shukhov tower is a hyperboloid structure (hyperbolic steel gridshell) consisting of a series of hyperboloid sections stacked on one another to approximate an overall conical shape. The tower has a diagrid structure, and its steel shell experiences minimum wind load (a significant design factor for high-rising buildings). The tower sections are single-cavity hyperboloids of rotation made of straight beams, the ends of which rest against circular foundations.


The tower is located a few kilometres south of the Moscow Kremlin, but is not accessible to tourists. The street address of the tower is "Shabolovka Street, 37".

Possible demolition[edit]

As of early 2014, the tower faced demolition by the Russian State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting, after having been allowed to deteriorate for years despite popular calls for its restoration.[2] Following a concerted campaign calling for the preservation of the tower, on July 3 the Ministry of Culture of Russia announced that the tower will not be demolished,[3] and in September 2014 that Moscow City Council had placed a preservation order on the tower in order to safeguard it.[4][5]

In January 2017 the RTRS placed a request for tender for a plan to renovate and preserve the monument.[6]


There is a model of Shukhov's Shabolovka Tower at the Information Age gallery at the Science Museum in London. The model is at 1:30 scale and was installed in October 2014.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In 1922 one of the members of ASNOVA Vladimir Krinsky made a "Radio speaker of the Revolution" mural with a picture of a tower.
  • A science fiction novel by the Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy The Garin Death Ray was inspired by the public reaction towards construction of the tower.
  • Shukhov Tower was a logo of a "L'art de l'ingénieur" exhibition in Centre Georges-Pompidou.
  • In the novel A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, set in 1922, the character Mikhail Fyodorovich Mindich declares the Shukhov tower a thing of beauty, "a two hundred foot structure of spiraling steel from which we can broadcast the latest news and intelligence - and, yes, the sentimental strains of your Tchaikovsky ..." (Windmill Books, p.85)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stevens, Susannah (9 April 2014). "Shukhov Tower: The Eiffel of the East". BBCNews. BBC. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  2. ^ Kimmelman, Michael (March 16, 2014). "Broadcasting a Plea to Save a Historic Tower". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Стражники Башни. Новая газета - (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  4. ^ Penny Sarchet (2 September 2014). "Soviet-era hyperboloid tower saved from destruction". New Scientist.
  5. ^ "Moscow Puts Iconic Shukhov Tower on Protected Landmark List". The Moscow Times. Aug 18, 2014.
  6. ^ Шуховская башня. РИА Новости (in Russian). 2017-03-19. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  7. ^ "Model of the 1922 Shabolovka Tower". Retrieved 2020-05-11.


(in German)

(in French)

  • Picon, Antoine (dir.), "L'art de l'ingenieur : constructeur, entrepreneur, inventeur", Éditions du Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1997, ISBN 2-85850-911-5
  • Fausto Giovannardi "Vladimir Shukhov e la leggerezza dell'acciaio" at

External links[edit]

(in Chinese)