Berlin Art Link recently sat down with Russian-born, German architect Sergei Tchoban. In the interview above, he discusses his career, including working on the design for the Vostok Tower, Europe’s tallest skyscraper, and the recent opening of the Tchoban Foundation Museum for Architectural Drawing. This building houses his extensive personal works, as well as exhibitions by other artists. “What is very important for me is the quality of all details, so you create a building from outline, from the silhouette, to the door lever. This building brings out a lot of our and my personal ideas about architecture and about details in architecture,” Tchoban said regarding his design for the Museum for Architectural Drawing. The exterior of the building expresses Tchoban’s devotion to draftsmanship– the facade of the building is etched with a graphic pattern based on sketches from artists Angelo Toseli and Pietro di Gottardo Gonzaga. “I’m very active in drawings, as a draftsman myself. Drawing is a result of our thinking process and our thinking process is not only a thinking process with the head, with the mind, but also the process where you think with the whole body.”
In August 1932, Stalin, holidaying in Sochi, sent a memo containing his thoughts on the entries for the competition to design the Palace of the Soviets, the never-to-be-built monument to Lenin and center of government. In this memo he selected his preferred design, the colossal wedding cake of a tower topped with a 260-foot (79-meter) high statue of Lenin, designed by Boris Iofan. Just over 80 years later, Sochi again hosted the architectural whims of a powerful Russian leader for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. An oversimplification? Probably. But it’s got nice symmetry to it.
Rem Koolhaas and art philanthropist Dasha Zhukova will be gracing the WSJ. Magazine’s February cover as “art partners” embarking on a transformation that will turn a ruined Brezhnev-era Communist landmark – the Vremena Goda in Moscow’s Gorky Park – into the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art’s new home. “The building is basically a found object,” said Koolhaas, regarding his “raw” design and intent to preserve the structure’s decay. “We are embracing it as it is.”
The museum’s new home will “challenge the white-cube tradition of Western museums,” says Zhukova. A double layer of polycarbonate plastic will encase the intact structure so it appears as a translucent box hovering six feet above ground. Commissioned artworks will be presented on a backdrop of “raw brick and broken tiles.” Learn more about the Garage’s design, here, and read the WSJ. Magazine’s full report, here.
The results of the Red Square Tolerance Pavilion Competition, hosted by Homemade Dessert (HMMD), have been announced. Placed directly in the center of Moscow‘s Red Square, the competition asked designers to advocate the many facets of tolerance (social, religious, and political) by manifesting them in the form of a temporary pavilion. To further enhance these ideas, the pavilion is not only a symbolic space, but an educational one, with lecture halls and exhibition areas as its program, encouraging entrants to promote tolerance in all aspects of their designs.
View the winning designs after the break.
Given the country’s rich architectural history spanning almost the entirety of the 20th century, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the fall of Russian Communism in the early 1990s might have sparked an exciting new era in design. That promise hasn’t exactly been fulfilled, but as The Calvert Journal reports, a few promising recent projects are hinting at a Russian Renaissance.
The last twenty years of architecture has added little but bog-standard steel-and-glass office blocks to the limited palate of the Russian cityscape — the usual glinting onion domes, pompous Stalinist neoclassicism and crumbling tower blocks. But lately some architects have dared to differ and turned bold blueprints into bricks and mortar. Read on after the break for our pick of the best Russian buildings of the last decade.
Russia has released designs for their participation at Milan Expo 2015. Taking in consideration Russia’s most successful world EXPO pavilions, of which the country has been producing since 1851, and the importance of “green technologies,” SPEECH has designed an expansive 4000-square-meter timber structure with a pronounced roofline that features a mirrored canopy extending 30-meters over the pavilion’s main entrance.
In an article for The Guardian, Maryam Omidi explores Moscow’s Door19, a place where “Damien Hirst and David LaChapelle artworks adorn the raw concrete walls,” “flair bartenders serve up gem-coloured cocktails,” and “a rotation of Michelin-starred chefs flown in from around the world curate new menus each week.” It is indicative, she argues, of what Kuba Snopek (a lecturer at the Strelka Institute) describes as “hipster Stalinism” – a surge of redevelopment in certain parts of Moscow that cater to the ‘oligarchs’, wealthy creatives and Muscovite ‘hipsters’. At Door19, for example, apartments sell for between $15,000 and $20,000 per square metre.
Russian practice Project Meganom has been announced as the winner in a competition to drastically transform the Moscow riverfront. Their masterplan proposal aims to create a series of linear green spaces, while also incorporating new cultural and education spaces along the waterfront and improving the surrounding public transport. Announced at the IV annual Moscow Urban Forum which opened earlier today, the goal of the competition was to return the Moscow river from a “barrier” into a “link” in the city, restoring its historical status as the city’s heart and most important transportation route.
Read on after the break for more details of Project Meganom’s masterplan
“Cyberspace, filled with bugs and glitches – the components of its natural habitat – will form a completely new and previously unknown location when released into a real city – Cybertopia,” says Egor Orlov, a current student at the Strelka Institute in Moscow. According to Orlov, the physical world is on the brink of a major technological breakthrough that will revolutionize the way architects conceive of space – closing the gap between analog and digital.
Cybertopia - completed while he was a student at the Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering under tutors Akhtiamov I.I. and Akhtiamova R.H. and nominated for the Archiprix Madrid 2015 - exists as another dimension for Orlov, where fairy tales come to life and science harmonizes with engineering and architectural design. “Future of an Architecture Space. Cybertopia. Death of Analogous Cities,” delves into a fantasy world where the “possibility to fly or walk from one planet to another” becomes an illustrated reality using a combination of drafting-based techniques and a wild imagination.
Enter the hybrid technological-analog world of Cybertopia after the break
The IV annual Moscow Urban Forum is quickly approaching. To be held from December 11-14, the forum is an international conference on city planning, urban development and related subjects. With the overarching theme of “Drivers of City Development,” this year’s forum will feature talks by Uma Adusumilli, Pablo Allard, Dan Hill, Sergei Kapkov, Maksim Liksutov, Antanas Mockus and Hui Wang, among many others.
The Forum will look at infrastructure, economy, social development and culture as the main drivers of city development, with day one starting by discussing the global development of megacities as well as the agenda for Russian city development. Day two will focus specifically on Moscow’s city agenda, while days three and four will feature the Forum speakers as well as special events for urban communities.
Fundamentals, the title of the 2014 Venice Biennale, will close its doors in a matter of days (on the 23rd November). From the moment Rem Koolhaas revealed the title for this year’s Biennale in January 2013, asking national curators to respond directly to the theme of ‘Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014’, there was an inkling that this Biennale would be in some way special. Having rejected offers to direct the Biennale in the past, the fact that Koolhaas chose to act not only as curator but also thematic co-ordinator of the complete international effort, was significant. This announcement led Peter Eisenman (one of Koolhaas’ earliest tutors and advocates) to state in one interview that “[Rem is] stating his end: the end of [his] career, the end of [his] hegemony, the end of [his] mythology, the end of everything, the end of architecture.”
SVESMI, an unassuming studio based in central Rotterdam, is at the center of a dauntingly complex project that may eventually see the renovation of 448 dilapidated and disused branch libraries in Moscow. Architects Anastassia Smirnova and Alexander Sverdlov balance their time between Rotterdam, which acts as their design studio, and Moscow from which, alongside architects Maria Kataryan and Pavel Rueda, they oversee the project at large. Faced by the potential challenge of reimagining over 450 public ‘living rooms’ spread across the Russian capital and demanding unusually high levels of spatial articulation and social understanding, the Open Library project is also unwinding the hidden narrative of Moscow’s local libraries.
Groundlab, WOWHAUS and Urbanica have been announced as winners of an international competition to redesign Sokolniki Park, Moscow’s largest park. Over the next 15 years, their 515 hectare masterplan, “Sokolniki. Nature’s embassy in Moscow,” will focus on preserving the 19th century park’s unique natural landscape as an extension of the Losiny Ostrov nature park by dividing it into three zones: Forest, Forest Park and Regular Park.
Images of the winning design, after the break.
ASTOC and HPP have been announced as winners of a two-stage competition to masterplan “New Moscow’s” International Financial Center (IFC) in Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye. The phased, 460 hectare development will capitalize on the Moscow River’s greenbelt by extending the river landscape throughout the IFC to achieve a balance between nature and city.
More information, images and a video about the winning proposal, after the break…
Moscow‘s Cultural Heritage Department has stepped in to save Vladimir Shukhov‘s historic 1922 Shabolovka Radio Tower, with a conservation order protecting its materials, architectural composition, structural elements and location. The news will be a relief to the many architects – including Tadao Ando, Elizabeth Diller, Rem Koolhaas and Thom Mayne – who agreed with Norman Foster that the tower is “a structure of dazzling brilliance and great historical importance”, and signed a petition urging for the structure to be saved.
Thanks to the conservation order, the neglected building will have to be repaired, and Moscow City Hall now hopes to collaborate with Russia‘s national government to organize an open international competition the restoration and re-purposing of the 160m tower.
Read on after the break for more on the Shukhov Tower’s proposed future
Have you ever wondered what a thought might look like traveling through your brain? In a recent installation in Moscow‘s Nikola-Lenivets park, media design firm Radugadesign animated the inner workings of the human brain with an innovative video projection. Universal Mind, a sculptural installation by artist Nikolay Polissky, serves as the immobile backdrop for the elaborate video mapping project. Over the course of nearly eight minutes, Polissky’s brain-like sculpture explodes into a maelstrom of light and sound, with carefully curated streams of energetic colour interspersed with dark scenes of manufactured glimmering starlight.
The New Media Night Festival orchestrated the installation on July 5th with over five thousand in attendance across the three-day festival. Nikola-Lenivets park is home to 28 different public sculptural installations.
The following article, written by Jacob Dreyer and originally published in The Calvert Journal as “Maximum city: the vast urban planning projects of Soviet-era Russia are being reborn in modern China,” analyzes a fascinating phenomenon: the exportation of Soviet urbanism — or rather Stalinist urbanism — shaping Chinese cities today.
As I cycled to work on 20 May this year, the Yan’an Expressway — Shanghai’s crosstown artery, named after the utopian socialist city that was Mao Zedong’s 1940s stronghold — was eerily silent, cordoned off for a visit by President Vladimir Putin. We discovered the next day that the upshot of his visit was the signing a $400bn contract with China for the export of gas and petroleum. As President Barack Obama had once promised he would, Putin made a pivot to Asia, albeit on a slightly different axis. From Shanghai, the terms of the deal — which was immensely advantageous to China — made it seem as if Russia was voluntarily becoming a vassal-state of the People’s Republic, making a reality of both the predictions of Vladimir Sorokin’s dystopian fantasy novel Day of the Oprichnik and of Russian scare stories about Chinese immigrants flooding into Siberia.
The irony is that models of society imported from Russia during the Soviet period — as realised in popular culture, legal apparatuses and, of particular interest to the cyclist, in architecture and urban planning — are as influential as ever in China. If, as Chinese philosopher Wang Hui observed in his book The End of Revolution, Socialism was the door through which China passed on its voyage into modernity, then it was Russia that opened that door, by exporting models and expertise that laid the foundation for much of what constitutes modern China.
In an article for London’s Royal Academy of Arts Magazine entitled Plane Sailing, Zaha Hadid discusses the influence of Russian Suprematist painter Kazimir Malevich on her own design work. In Hadid’s early work, such as The Peak Blue Slabs (1982/83), the visual connections to Malevich’s strict, regular shapes and lines are evident.