Gosprom: The State Industry building in Kharkov, 1925-1928

Robert Byron, Gosprom in Kharkov (1929)a Robert Byron, Gosprom in Kharkov (1929)b Robert Byron, Gosprom in Kharkov (1929)c Robert Byron, Gosprom in Kharkov (1929)d

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The most breathtaking of all constructivist projects has to be the Gosprom complex (or “Palace of Industry”) in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov. There can’t have been anything else of this scale and ambition anywhere else in Europe at the time: indeed, it resembles more some particularly ambitious work of the late 1960s than the mid-twenties, an unacknowledged prototype of that sixties motif, the elevated walkway, the street in the sky. Constructed between 1926 and 1928, apparently by volunteers from the local Komsomol, this is Metropolis — or Aelita — actualized. Concrete and glass blocks from 7 to 13 storeys connected by skyways, curving round a huge public square, this resembles a small city in its own right. Its designers, Serafimov, Kravets, and Felger, appear to have been as obscure at the time as they have been since, yet only an El Lissitsky, a Gropius, or a Corbusier were designing anything as ambitious in 1926. Eisenstein and Vertov both used it on film (The General Line and Three Songs of Lenin, respectively), aptly, as the contrasts, angles and multiple levels had spatial affinities to their montage techniques: more literally, Friedrich Ermler used it in Fragment of Empire, a communist Rip van Winkle tale, as exemplar of the incomprehensible new world that the sleeper awakes to.

(From Owen Hatherley’s Militant Modernism)

96ngHedEcb4 1158 1255 Строительство Госпрома 1928,YumvOnLZIrc Держпром_1927 800px-Держпром_будівництво_1928_рокуNearing completion. Photographer- Robert Byron, © Courtauld Institute of ArtPhotographer- Robert Byron, © Courtauld Institute of Art Панорама строительства Госпрома 1927 Харьковский Госпром 1933—1935 613168Урочисте_відкриття_7_жовтня_1928 Строительство здания проходило в 1925-1928 годыЗнаменитый ансамбль дома Гос.промышленности в Харькове 1932 ГосПром_ДержПром 1933—1967 Gosprom_291196196900_tn_00100 2be88be5-15ab-4dbd-a894-2c686379ef2c-1020x612 882942df76a6Фото из журнала jpDcKBqrFisGosprom_1930aMeyer, Hannes  Casa de la industria estatalen Jakov 443uapzis7i049i8gh gosprom 1943 gosprom 1941post-338-1172974648_thumb GOSPROM2 GOSPROM1 GOSPROM3 GOSPROM4 Sergei Serafimov, Mark Felger, and Samuil Kravets's Gosprom Building (1925) Госпром 1942 This shot was made in 1943. In the foreground - badly damaged House of Projects, a smaller, lighter built part of the Dzerzhinsky Square ensemble (rebuilt after the war) Kharkiv Dzerzhinsky Square (Derzhprom on the right) from the German FW 189 photo-recce airplane. 1942 Gosprom-v-Harkove_1942_LajosD Gosprom_Dzerjinskaya-ploshad_Harkov_1942_LGadoros aerial photo Another German aerial shot, 1942 fortepan_11830 fortepan_11829 fortepan_11828 3235 gosprom 1942Здание Госпрома в оккупированном Харькове mcyc-khark.jpg~original NachderSchlachtbeiCharkow Photographer- Robert Byron, © Courtauld Institute of Art T-34 tanks near the Derzhprom building during brief Soviet re-occupation of Kharkiv (Feb. 1943) gKDYOWj81_w 1958 1960 28 0cwh0jtvrfes3mnvhc

3 thoughts on “Gosprom: The State Industry building in Kharkov, 1925-1928

  1. Very interesting!
    The Marxist economist Henryk Grossman, then resident in Frankfurt am Main, participated in a tour of the Soviet Union in 1932. He was (sadly) very impressed. I wondered why he attended discussions at the Gosplan (the central planning agency) offices in Kharkov, rather than Moscow. The Stalinist regime’s effort to impress and duchess visitors with this complex is probably the explanation.
    The pics of horses in front and involved in the construction of the building reveal a lot about the nature of Stalinist industrialisation.

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