Church With Unique Porcelain Cupolas is Under Construction in Peredelkino

An artists rendition of the cathedral once it is completed in Peredlkino

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A unique stone cathedral with porcelain cupolas will appear in Peredelkino near Moscow soon. The work is being done on the grounds of the Moscow Patriarch’s residence in Peredelkino to build a cathedral in honour of Grand Prince Igor of Chernigov and of Kiev there. Its cupolas will be covered with porcelain, not with gold leaf as is traditional in Russia, and the technology, which remains unparalleled in the world, has been developed in St. Petersburg.

What prompted skilled craftsman from St. Petersburg to build a cathedral with colourful cupolas was St. Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square in Moscow. Although it was built at the end of the 16th century, people continue admiring its colourful and sophisticated cupolas.

The cathedral under construction in April 2011

For more than a year the authors of the new project worked on what seemed to be an unsolvable task – how to create the unusual festive domes, which would be different from all others and at the same time durable, a ceramic artist from St. Petersburg and one of the authors of the new project, Yuri Volkotrub, said in an interview with the Voice of Russia:

"This idea did not appear all of a sudden. At first a proposal was made to us to use big porcelain pieces. And still, since I have been working with ceramics for more than20 years now, I understood perfectly well that big porcelain pieces will be not good for this. And when we started considering the architectural decisions, our fears were confirmed. The point is that that all constructions, which were made with the use of big ceramic pieces, proved short-lived. That is why we decided to take small porcelain pieces. And porcelain is resistible to weather changes."

Several porcelain domes, resembling the Faberge eggs, have already been erected in Peredelkino, and now the architects and ceramic artists are working on the biggest cupola of the new cathedral, continues the St. Petersburg artist:

The cupolas will be covered with porcelain, not with gold leaf as is traditional in Russia

"The metal frame gives the form to the cupolas, and the frame itself is covered with a screen made of stainless steel. Parallel with this we are making porcelain tiles of different sizes. At first computer calculations were made to determine the shape of the tile, and the handwork was done later. There will be 18,000 tiles on the big cupola. Each one of them is fixed in 3 places. This is painstaking work."

The main cupola, which will be approximately the size of a 3-story building, will be nearly 10 metres in diameter. The ultramarine colour will prevail there.

Today the technology of making porcelain cupolas is recognized as unique and is patented as Russia’s know-how. And the St. Petersburg craftsmen are hopeful that not only clients from Russia but also the ones from other countries will start asking them to erect porcelain cupolas.

Sources: The Voice of Russia
16 May, 2011