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Constructivist architecture

Constructivist architecture was a form of modern architecture that flourished in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and early 1930s. It combined advanced technology and engineering with an avowedly Communist social purpose. Although it was divided into several competing factions, the movement produced many pioneering projects and finished buildings, before falling out of favour around 1932. Its effects have been marked on later developments in architecture.


There are huge differences between the Russian and the Central European city. Apart from St Petersburg, nineteenth-century Russian cities onsisted largely of wooden houses - only monasteries, churches, government buildings and the occasional merchant's house were built of stone. This has meant that over time scarcely any traces of the past remain, even in cities boasting a thousand years of history. In addition, industrialization came later to Russia than to Europe, while Communism established itself there much earlier. During the inter-war years, while the rising middle classes were putting their stamp onCentral Europe, Russia was already labouring under the yolk ofa proletarian dictatorship. In short: the process of urbaniza tion in Russia took place almost exclusively during the Soviet period. The Russian city is the Soviet city.

In Russia, communism is not a veneer that can be simply scraped away to reveal the 'real' city underneath. Nor can Communism be regarded as an 'historical mistake' that is best forgotten as quickly as possible.
Consequently the communist character of the Russian city has much less to do with monuments, slogans and symbols, and much more with the fact that it was created in a society that was organized along communist principles: no private property, small income differences, housing distribution, industrial building. It's not so much a question of the


There is no speculation, no uncontrollable market, only architecture based on ideology. Within this ideological discourse, there have been three revolutions - the constructivist revolution, leading to the modernist experiments of the 1920s and 30s, the stalinist revolution,that repalced it with an almost baroque neo-classicism, and The Chrutsyov revolution, banning any decoration and giving way to the most absolute form of modernism - massive industrial building. In each issue of PROJECT RUSSIA the Soviet period is presented in the form of an architectural guide of a particular Russian city;


The history of Soviet architecture is a history of destructionand resurrection. Each new period replaces and forgets the previous one. The current situation is no exception. Many demand the restoration of the city to its pre-communist state. The most vivid example is the resurrection of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Being built by Tsar Nikolas I in 1883, it was demolished by Stalin in 1931 in order to be replaced by the Palace of the Soviets. The war stopped the construction of this monument to the communist revolution, and in 1960 in its foundations an open air swimming pool was opened. In 1993, at the same moment the war in Cechnya began, construction started of a replica of the old cathedral - a symbol of unity aiming to support the war for unity.


Its recent renaissance is symbolic for the growing independence of provincial cities of the central power of Moscow. In the 1990s it became the architectural capital of Russia. Local architects, only allowed to apply standard designs from Moscow project institutes in Soviet times, suddenly got the possibility to open their own studios. They cater to the demand for new buidings in the city centre, that until then had been neglected but now got a new meaning as a centre for trade and communication. After a forced diet of concrete boxes they engage in a feast of architecture: an orgy of brick, stucco and paint, using a vocabulary of architecture that had been forbidden for over 30 years.


If socialist realism is the name for Stalins attempt to make palaces for the communist worker, then capitalist realism is the name for the current attempts to make palaces for the elite. At fist glance the result looks the same: huge housing blocks in classicist style. However there are big differences. Capitalist realism is the answer to the conflicting interest of economy and democracy. Economy demands high housing blocks in order to maximize profits. Democracy demands an urban policy that takes into account the interests of the inhabitants, who are sick of high rise apartment blocks. The solution is a simple exchange between style and building volume: a building can be big as long as it looks good - that is - similar to historical architecture


The space industry was a mayor force behind the developmentof Soviet technology. Huge budgets were spend on research an development. However the aim was not mass production, but the production of unique prototypes. Paradoxically now architecture is one of the few sectors where we see a spin-off of this technology. Russian architects have the possibility to use a infrastucture of highly specialized factories for producing custom-made details. A pioneer in this field Starting out in 1991 with the development of the world only designer safes and metal doors, it now has become a mayor producer of interiors designed by the leading young Russian interior architects.



If under communism the city was a place of totalitarian control, then the countryside was a place of freedom. This is most obvious when one looks at the dacha - do-it-yourself architecture made of the left-overs of the Soviet panning machine.

STANDARD <=> FREE PLAN The shell-and-core apartment building

It happened just by itself, because the market asked for it, but this doesnt deminish its meaning for the future of housing architecture: all elite housing projects in Moscow are currently build as shell-and-core buildings. The wealthy client has such an aversion to the Soviet apartment that he rejects any collective decision concerning the planning of his apartment. The floor plans of new apartment buildings resemble those of office buildings, only to be filled up by a catalogue of different apartment layouts, each one made individually by the personal interior designer of each client. In the architectural profession, this has led to a new division of labor - the exterior architect (obyemshik) works on the building, the interior architect (interiershik) takes care of the inside.

ANONIMITY <=> INDIVIDUALITY The rise of interior design

The most up-to-date sector of Russian architecture is interior design. It is mostly the youngest generation of architects that works in the design of not only apartments, but also offices, shops and clubs. One reason is the hierarchic structure of Russian society young architects simply dont get the possibility to build in the city, another reason the availability of huge budgets for interior projects. Russia has become one of the main market for the European furniture industry. Moreover, in comparison to Western practice the position of the interior designer is extremely strong. With standard fees of 300 USD per square meter for the leading interior designers interiors are treated, produced and sold as works of art.


The abscence of the private house is one of the most remarkable differences of Russia in comparison with the rest of the world. When in the early 1990s the construction of private houses finally became possible, it led to a boom in the construction of so called kottedzes: huge red bick palaces. Many of these houses were never finished - either because the owner overestimated his financial possibilities or understimated the importance of and urban infrastructure for a comfortable life outside the city. Nevertheless one can observe a gradual process of suburbanisation although not on the scale that was anticipated ten years ago. For the young architects working in interior projects the design of a private house is the next step towards big architecture.

Contemporary Russian Home with Sleek Angles

Russian architecture firm Atrium designed this beautiful contemporary house near Moscow. Surrounded by palm trees, the site provides magnificent views, with windows purposely placed throughout. The residents can really see and feel the structure fold inside the home, especially because of the open floor plan. There is no difference in cladding on the outside and on the inside, so If you see wood on the exterior, you can be sure that the same spot on the interior is made of the same material.

Aeroflot Office Complex Modern Office Building In Moscow

The office building designed by Vladimir Plotkin. Office complex Aeroflot Russian airlines. Headquartered in Moscow, Aeroflot is one of the oldest airlines in the world, tracing its history back to 1923 Great Vladimir Plotkin designs include a competition entry for the Grand Museum of Egypt (2002) and the building of the Federal Arbitration Court of Moscow Region (2007).

Amazing Moscow Business School Building, Russia Design By Adjaye Associates

The school was founded in 2005 to promote an innovative approach based on practice management that will address the new conditions in Russia and elsewhere. Intended to be independent of the methodologies taught in other institutions, Adjaye Associates were commissioned to design a building that represents their aspirations. Due to its peripheral location, most visitors arrive by car, per day by the end of the day, the school will operate as anindependent community. This condition is higher in the winter months when the weather is cold and unpleasant. For this reason, the main elements of the School have been together as a single entity in which a number of facilities are easily accessible without going outside.