The conquest of gravity
Image: Photograph of Georgii Krutikov
while a student at VKhUTEMAS (1926)
“In 1928, the young architect Georgii Krutikov, in defending his diploma work at VKhUTEIN, presented a thesis project completely insane for the time, a ‘City of the Future’, which immediately became a sensation. The concept of a ‘flying city’ was as follows: the architect proposed to leave work, leisure, and tourism on the ground, while living areas would be moved to communes floating in the clouds of the city. How does this idea seem to you? Viable?”
Translated by Natalia Melikova,
with slight edits by me.
В 1928 году молодой архитектор Георгий Крутиков на защите дипломных работ во Вхутеине представил совершенно безумный по тем временам дипломный проект «Город будущего», который сразу же стал сенсацией. Концепция «летающего города» заключалась в следующем: архитектор предлагал оставить землю для труда, отдыха и туризма, а жилые помещения перенести в парящие в облаках города — коммуны. Как вам идея? Жизнеспособна?
From Richard Stites’ Revolutionary Dreams (1981):
A far more popular craze of the 1920s that fed into science fiction was aviation. Russian fascination with aeronautics has been immense in our time — a kind of fear of not flying, of remaining earthbound and thus immobile. Flying — as in the archetypical dream — is a kinetic metaphor for liberation. The literary obsession with it in Europe, America, and Russia is well-known. Figures such as Tatlin and Mayakovsky are inconceivable without the airplane image. Vasily Kamensky — like d’Annunzio — was an aviator poet. Alexander Lavinsky in 1923 designed a plan for an “airborne city.” And Georgy Krutikov in 1928 envisaged a “Flying City Apartment Building” moored to dirigibles when at anchor. Taking off into a better world was semantically and psychologically linked to taking flight. The revolutionary terrorist Nikolai Kibalchich, waiting for his execution in 1881, designed a flying machine that was based on rocket principles. The father of Soviet rocket design, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, hatched most of his ideas while living in an obscure little Russian town. N. A. Rynin, professor and popularizer of space literature in the 1920s, began his work on the cosmic age during the dark years of the Civil War. “I was hungry, ” he recalled, “I was cold, but one good thing about it — nobody came to see me . “
From Jean-Louis Cohen’s The Future of Architecture since 1889 (2012):
certain thesis projects still explored radical hypotheses for public buildings. Ivan Leonidov designed a Lenin Institute (1927) with a prophetic structure made of cables and futuristic electronic technology; Georgei Krutikov designed a Flying City (1928). After visiting the Vkhutemas in 1928, Le Corbusier described the school in his journal as an “extraordinary demonstration of the modern credo,” adding: “Here a new world is being rebuilt” out of a “mystique which gives rise to a pure technique.”