The Singer House
(Dom Knigi)

Dom Knigi in St. Petersburg (also known as the Singer House) is a famous bookstore on Nevsky Prospekt. It is a cultural center of the Northern capital which attracts many book lovers and, in addition, is an architectural monument of federal significance.

In 1902 a piece of land on Nevsky Prospect was acquired by “Singer”, the US-based sewing machine company. The owners of the company had a plan to build an eleven-storey skyscraper that would accommodate the company’s head office, shop, and lots of space for leasing. However, the city height limitation didn’t allow the architect, Pavel Suzor, to build a skyscraper, as in St.Petersburg it was only possible to construct buildings no higher than the Winter Palace, which was 23.5 meters high at the time.

Singer House, the tower
The Singer House, the Tower

So Pavel Suzor created a building of seven floors with an elegant tower on the top. Because of this tower, the building seemed quite high-rise and stood out among the surrounding buildings, but without eclipsing the Kazan Cathedral and Church of the Savior on Blood which situated close to Nevsky Prospekt. The building was richly decorated with sculptures, amazingly designed windows and doors. It amazed St.Petersburg citizens, who at that time were accustomed to much more classical facades of Nevsky Prospect. Besides that, the most advanced construction technologies of the time were used when building the  Singer House:

“It amazed  St. Petersburg citizens, who at that time were accustomed to much more classical facades of Nevsky Prospect”

  • For the first time in Russia the iron frame of the building was constructed and filled with bricks and cement. This method allowed to establish large windows and cover courtyards and atrium with glass roof, giving the future Dom Knigi quite an unusual appearance;
  • To improve the appearance of the facade, rainwater pipes were hidden inside the walls;
  • The air in in the whole building was purified, humidified and warmed using ventilation chambers, that were placed in the basement;
  • The  Singer House was equipped with an elevator made by famous Otis company;
  • Technological innovations allowed establishing an automatic snow-cleaning steam system, which helped to get rid of snow on the roof.
Singer House, the tower
Singer Sewing Machine

According to a legend, the first so-called paradoxical advertising in St. Petersburg appeared on the front of the Singer House. It was written in large letters: “Do not buy the products of the Singer company…” and further in small letters: “without knowing in advance that they are the best in the world”.

Today the  Singer House or Dom Knigi is the largest bookstore in the city, one of the largest in Europe and is one of the main symbols of the Northern capital. Its unusual architecture, beautiful interiors and cozy atmosphere attract many visitors and residents all year round.

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