Alexei Gutnov, et al: The Ideal Communist City (1966–) [RU, EN]

25 April 2019, dusan

“The Soviet group of architects New Element of Settlement (NER) was invited to the 1968 Milan Triennale by Giancarlo De Carlo, following the publication of their influential book NER, On the Way to a New City (1966). They were asked to present their plans for an ideal communist city in the section devoted to “transformations of the physical environment.” Their installation was one of the few in the exhibition that provided a critical response to the culture of consumerism, in tune with ongoing student revolts.

The concept of NER was first developed in 1957 as a diploma project by graduates of the Moscow Institute of Architecture (MArkhI). As students, NER members studied the elements of the city, its quantitative and qualitative characteristics, eventually dismissing traditional planning principles in favor of a new approach to urban development as a dynamic process. Drawing on Marxism, they sought to provide a spatial agenda for the communist ideology, representing the younger generation of thinkers in the radical split of the Soviet architectural profession following de-Stalinization. They actively criticized the state of Soviet urban planning, arguing that “today, the city is not fulfilling its primary purpose to be an organic living environment.”

In late 1968, De Carlo wrote an introduction for NER’s influential publication, The Ideal Communist City. In their radical proposal, NER attempted to provide a spatial agenda for Marxism, drawing both from the Communist Manifesto and the Constructivist avant-garde of the 1920s. NER’s new city was based on creative communication in a classless society, in which the city was no longer dependent on its industrial center but instead formed around a center of communication, independent from the economic characteristics of the city. The major shift brought in by this new urban wave—later implemented by one of its members, Alexei Gutnov, within the curriculum of MArkhI—was to see the city as a living organism, in which cells would be born and eventually die. This led to a change in the status of architectural form: it was conceived as temporary and mobile—its birth implied the process of its imminent destruction. This approach anticipated the later understanding of architecture as an activity or as environment—form was no longer relevant because it hindered the organic processes within the dying city. The system emphasized the correspondence between urban structures and social relationships in communism, based on the reading of the urban plan as “simultaneously a symbol of the idea and a program for its realization.”” (Masha Panteleyeva, Radical Pedagogies)

English edition
By Alexei Gutnov, A. Baburov, G. Djumenton, S. Kharitonova, I. Lezava, S. Sadovskij, of Moscow University
Translated by Renee Neu Watkins
Preface by Giancarlo de Carlo
Publisher George Braziller, New York, [1971]
i Press Series on the Human Environment
ISBN 080760576X 9780807605769
166 pages
via Outlaw Urbanist

Reviews: Kenneth Frampton (Architectural Forum, 1972), Outlaw Urbanist (2016).
Commentary: Alicia Kurimska (Center for Opportunity Urbanism, 2015).

Wikipedia (RU)
WorldCat

Novyy element rasseleniya: na puti k novomu gorodu (Новый элемент расселения: на пути к новому городу, Russian, 1966, 22 MB, via)
The Ideal Communist City (English, trans. Renee Neu Watkins, [1971], 4 MB)

Kobro and Strzemiński: Avant-Garde Prototypes (2017) [English, Spanish]

5 December 2017, dusan

Kataryna Kobro (1898-1951) and Władysław Strzemiński (1893-1952) are among the silent protagonists of the European avant-gardes, to which they contributed by both fostering and questioning the legacy of modernism with a plastic and theoretical oeuvre that was fertile as it was complex. Dedicated to experimentation on pure forms–Kobro fundamentally in sculpture and Strzemiński in painting–and closely related to international artistic movements like the Bauhaus, neoplasticism and constructivism, their work is pivotal for an understanding of abstract art in the Central Europe of the first decades of the twentieth century.”

With contributions by Jarosław Suchan, Christina Lodder, Gladys C. Fabre, Juan Manuel Bonet, and texts by Kobro and Strzemiński.

Publisher Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, and Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, 2017
Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License
ISBN 9788480265508, 8480265507
192 pages

Exhibition (Madrid)
Exhibition (Łódź)
Publisher
WorldCat

Kobro and Strzemiński: Avant-Garde Prototypes (English, 13 MB, PDF, Issuu)
Kobro y Strzemiński. Prototipos vanguardistas (Spanish, 13 MB, PDF, Issuu)

Philip Johnson, Mark Wigley: Deconstructivist Architecture (1988) [EN, ES, DE]

31 October 2017, dusan

“This book presents a radical architecture, exemplified by the work of seven architects. Illustrated are projects for Santa Monica, Berlin, Rotterdam, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Paris, Hamburg, and Vienna, by Frank O. Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, Zaha M. Hadid, Bernard Tschumi, and the firm of Coop Himmelblau” (from back cover)

Publisher Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1988
ISBN 087070298X, 9780870702983
104 pages

Review: Douglas Tallack (Paragraph, 1996).

Discussion: 25th anniversary debate (video, MoMA, 2013), report.
Analysis: Tina Di Carlo (PhD dissertation, 2016).
Commentary: Luke Fiederer (ArchDaily, 2017).

Exhibition
WorldCat

Deconstructivist Architecture (English, 1988, 20 MB)
Arquitectura deconstructivista (Spanish, 1988, 20 MB)
Dekonstruktivistische Architektur (German, trans. Frank Druffner, 1988, 20 MB)