Lissitzky, Wolkenbügel (1924)

El Lissitzky’
s skyscrapers stood on great elevated piers above intersections of radial and ring-rods in Moscow. These piers with their open-faced lift-shafts, support the horizontally cantilevered building. Beneath them are metro stations and bus-stops. The building is supposed to be made of steel and glass, all the parts being standardized so that no scaffolding is needed for its erection.

Emil Roth, the Swiss architect, also helped in working out this design. He, as well as Mart Stam, were extraterritorial members of the Society of New Architects (ASNOVA) founded in Moscow in 1923. This society consisted mostly of architects connected with the VKhUTEMAS school in Moscow. The work of Ladovskii’s pupils from that school was published in the journal ABC.

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El_Lissitzky_in_Weimar1Emil Roth (left) and Mart Stam (right)

The Reconstruction of Architecture in the Soviet Union (1929)

Old cities — New buildings
The future and utopia
El Lissitzky (1929)

The creation of an office complex that would respond to the demands of the new times within the context of the old Moscow urban fabric was the basic idea leading to the concept of the so-called “sky-hook.” Moscow is a centralized city, characterized by a number of concentric ring boulevards connected by radial main streets emanating from the Kremlin. The proposal intends to place these structures at the intersections of the radials and the boulevards, where the most intense traffic is generated. Everything delivered to the building by horizontal traffic is subsequently transported vertically by elevator and then redistributed in a horizontal direction.

Compared to the prevalent American high-rise system the innovation consists in the fact that the horizontal (the useful) is clearly separated from the vertical (the support, the necessary). This in turn allows for clarity in the interior layout, which is essential for office structures and is usually predicated by the structural system. The resulting external building volume achieves elementary diversity in all six visual directions.

The problems connected with the development of these building types, including the scientific organization of work and business, are being dealt with on an international level. In this field, as in others, reconstruction will pose new demands.

In these times we must be very objective, very practical, and totally unromantic, so that we can catch up with the rest of the world and overtake it. But we also know that even the best “business” will not of itself advance us to a higher level of culture. The next stage of cultural development will encompass all aspects of life: human productivity and creativity, the most precious faculties of man. And not in order to accumulate profits for individuals, but to produce works that belong to everybody. If we just consider all the accomplishments of our own generation, we are certainly justified in taking for granted a technology capable of solving all the tasks mentioned earlier. One of our utopian ideas is the desire to overcome the limitations of the substructure, of the earthbound. We have developed this idea in a series of proposals (sky-hooks, stadium grandstands, Paris garage).

It is the task of technology to make sure that all these elementary volumes that produce new relationships and tensions in space will be structurally safe.

The idea of the conquest of the substructure, the earthbound, can be extended even further and calls for the conquest of gravity as such. It demands floating structures, a physical-dynamic architecture.

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