Nikolai Krasil’nikov’s terrifying planar urbanism (1928)

Nikolai Krasil’nikov
Sovremennaia arkhitektura
Vol. 3, № 6: 1928, 170-176

Problems of modern architecture
……Final diploma project for Aleksandr
……Vesnin’s studio at VKhUTEIN


In order to really know an object, it is necessary to comprehend, to study all sides of it, all its internal and external connectivities.

— Lenin

It is necessary to pursue and elaborate the implications of this proposition in every specialized field.

Central tower to Nikolai Krasil'nikov's "New City" (1928)

Nikolai Krasil’nikov’s “New City” (1928)

My initial premises:

  1. The environment in which an organic body exists has an influence upon its form.
  2. The forms of the various parts of the organic body are determined by their functions. Thus in a tree the forms of the root, the trunk, and the leaves are determined by the purposes they serve.
  3. To put it mathematically, the form of every body is a complex function of many variables (and the concept of form embraces the internal structure of the body matter).
  4. A scientific theory of the design of form can be developed through the dialectical method of thinking, with the application of mathematical methods of analysis; analysis, that is, which uses the infinitesimal quantities of analytical geometry along with both differential and integral calculus, and the theory of probability and mathematical statistics.
  5. A theory of the design of architectural form must be based on the physical, mechanical, chemical, and biological laws of nature.
  6. Socialist construction is unthinkable without the solution of economic aspects of the problem such as would yield the maximum economic effect in the very broadest sense.  So the constructional economics of a building for human work or habitation must be measured in terms of:
  • the material resources expended in erecting and running it;
  • wear (amortization) and repair of the building;
  • the time expended by people on all forms of movement in and around it;
  • impairment of the health of individuals, which depends on the extent to which the sanitary-technical norms and laws on safety at work and leisure are observed; and
  • the working conditions which would promote an improvement in the productivity of labor in general and mental work in particular, or in the conditions for leisure.

7. Under present Soviet circumstances [destvitel’nosti], the
……achievement of maximum constructional economics in
……architecture is also a vital necessity for the successful
……realization of socialism.

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Photos of and by Ernst May and other German architects in the USSR during the 1930s

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Ernst May and other German architects in the USSR, 1930s.

Taking a break, Soviet Union 1931Ernst May with his stereo camera in the Soviet Union, April 1931German architects in the USSR, journal New Frankfurt
Ilse May in the Armenian Soviet Republic, 1932The May BrigadeWorking in a meeting room of a local soviet; front left Walter Schwagenscheidt, behind from left Carl Lehmann, Wilhelm Hauss, Ms. Struve, and Ernst May, circa 1931
Wilhelm Kratz and Wilhelm Hauss with driver, Siberia 1931 (photo by Ernst May)Wilhelm Hauss, Jekaterina Nikolaevna, Frolov, and Ernst May, Magnitogorsk circa 1931)Walter Schwagenscheidt in the Soviet Union, circa 1932
Sledge tour, Tyrgan, Ernst May to the right circa 1931Nachalovki (improvised housing) near Magnitogorsk, with Walter Schwagenscheidt, 1931 (photo by Ernst May)March in Red Square commemorating Dzerzhinskii, 1931 (photo Ernst May)
IMG_1501Ilse and Thomas May in their dacha circa 1931, photographed by their father Ernst MayFigure on the Iberian Gate on Red Square, 1931 (photo by the German architect Ernst May)
Festival in Red Square, 1931 (photo Ernst May)Ernst May in his train compartment, Soviet Union (1932)Constructivist propaganda figure, 1931 (photo by Ernst May)

A number of extremely rare photos of and by Ernst May as well as other German socialist architects working in the USSR during the 1930s.

You can read a full-text English translation of Ernst May’s “City Building in the USSR” (1931) by clicking this link.