Road to Perfection

El Dorado, the Garden of Eden, Shangri-La, Nirvana—Utopia has come in many different manifestations over the centuries. But in Russia, the pursuit of paradise offers an unprecedented look at the country’s artistic and architectural heritage.

Russian Utopia [] is an online museum depository of more than 480 building projects that were commissioned over the past 300 years but never actually constructed. Even though all that remains are the plans, the impact these drawings have is undeniable. They are a testament to how strong the human impulse is to dream of what is possible.

Russian Utopia shows that the pursuit of the ideal (an important part of Russia’s political, social and artistic history) takes many forms, including plans of settlements, bridges, palaces, monuments and mausoleums. But the creators of these blueprints differ vastly, ranging from professional architects to amateur designers, children to adults and senior citizens to college students.

The earliest offering in Russian Utopia is a 1717 city plan of St. Petersburg. The latest is a model from 2003 called Jupiter Tomb. The maker, one Avvakumov Y., describes it as “a monument/testament to ‘all the artists of the world, and those who know me.’"

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