Under a dome: Tsaritsyno winterises its dancing fountain

October 27
Parks and pedestrian areas

Moscow’s fountain season ended as temperatures dropped. Utilities employees are now working to prepare the fountains for winter. In this context, the light and music fountain at the Tsaritsyno Museum and Reserve required special care.

This is the only hydraulic structure in Moscow to be covered by an inflatable dome. Read this mos.ru piece to learn why the fountain needs to be protected this way and how it is done.

Unusual structure

The light and music fountain at the Tsaritsyno Museum and Reserve is one of Moscow’s most unusual structures. Located in the middle of a pond, it has 80 pumps and more than 3,000 lights, as well as a sound system. Dismantling all these devices for the winter months would be too costly and inefficient from an economic standpoint. It is for this reason that the fountain will be covered with an inflatable dome.


From afar, the structure covering the fountain does look like a dome of a Mars base camp from sci-fi films. It consists of eight sectors weighing more than 3 tonnes, held together by a “washer.” Several thousand bolts and planks connect these elements. Since this is an inflatable structure, it relies on the air flow from blower fans located in nearby technical facilities.

Dome installation

The assembly was one of the most important stages when preparing the fountain for the winter. The dome could not be erected on the fountain itself since this would have damaged it.

“To get this vinyl dome up, we needed to build a platform, a wooden structure that protects the metal elements and equipment. Otherwise, the dome could have been damaged by the fountain’s protrusive elements. As such, building this platform was our first task, after which we installed the dome itself: eight sectors and the “washer” in the centre. They form a single structure with about 4,000 bolted joints. After that, the blower fans are connected and air starts flowing into the dome. The inflation process takes about an hour,” Mr Sizov pointed out.

But Gormost workers had to do even more. After mounting and inflating the dome, they had to install a gate so that maintenance crews could enter the structure and test the equipment, water pumps, isolation resistance and lights. Their job is to remove defective parts and reinstall them after repairs.

“About 20 people took part in building the dome. They have been working for a week. After that, only one controller will have to be present to monitor the blowers and check the air pressure. Heavy snowfall and wet or sticky snow are the biggest challenges, and more people will have to be present on site at this time. Otherwise, one person would be enough for day-to-day maintenance,” Mr Sizov added.

Operation under extreme scenarios

In winter, ropes overhanging the structure can be used to remove snow from the dome. However, the dome can be flattened if an emergency occurs, which happened several times already. Mr Sizov noted that this could be needed to deal with freezing snow or rain that sticks to the structure instead of sliding down.

Ice can also leave microscopic cuts on the dome. They will be repaired using the same durable material that can withstand the harshest weather conditions.

“The dome itself cannot be torn apart. It is a high-quality, factory-made product. In addition to this, we regularly inspect it for any defects. Still, its operational life is eight years, during which it is expected to withstand our winters. As well as regular wear and tear. This dome is already three years old, so it has another five to go. It is like car tyres that have to be changed once the rubber wears out,” Mr Sizov said.

Gormost workers will carry out regular maintenance and begin preparing the fountain for the next summer, while the dome will stay in place above the light and music fountain until early April.

Source: mos.ru

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