Typology and ideology: Moisei Ginzburg revisited



Ig­or Dukhan
Be­lor­usian State
University, 2013

Vic­tor Car­pov be­longs to that rare breed of con­tem­por­ary schol­ars who have pre­served the “pure prin­ciples” of such Rus­si­an art the­or­ists as Al­ex­an­der Gab­richevskii, Vassilii Zubov, and Aleksandr Rap­pa­port and linked them with the West­ern meth­od­o­logy of ar­chi­tec­tur­al ty­po­logy, drawn from the work of Joseph Ryk­wert, Gi­ulio Carlo Ar­gan and oth­ers. He is a seni­or fel­low of the In­sti­tute for the The­ory and His­tory of Ar­chi­tec­ture and Urb­an Plan­ning in Mo­scow and one of the lead­ing ar­chi­tec­tur­al thinkers in Rus­sia today.

The pa­per “Ty­po­logy and Ideo­logy: Moi­sei Gin­zburg Re­vis­ited” was pub­lished in 2013 in the magazine Aka­demia: Arkhitek­tura i Stroitel­stvo [Aca­demia: Ar­chi­tec­ture, and Con­struc­tion] and was based on a lec­ture, first presen­ted at the con­fer­ence “Style and Epoch,” which was or­gan­ized by the Aleksei Shchu­sev State Mu­seum of Ar­chi­tec­ture in co­oper­a­tion with the In­sti­tute for the The­ory and His­tory of Ar­chi­tec­ture and Urb­an Plan­ning, and ded­ic­ated to the cen­ten­ary of Moi­sei Gin­zburg’s birth. This pa­per is closely con­nec­ted with Vic­tor Car­pov’s en­tire re­search in­to the evol­u­tion of ar­chi­tec­tur­al ty­po­logy, which cel­eb­rated an im­port­ant step in con­tem­por­ary post-Heide­g­geri­an ar­chi­tec­tur­al the­ory.

Already in his dis­ser­ta­tion of 1992, the au­thor con­sidered the his­tory of ty­po­lo­gic­al think­ing in ar­chi­tec­ture from Vit­ruvi­us to the late twen­ti­eth-cen­tury ar­chi­tects and the­or­ists (Saverio Mur­atori, Gi­ulio Carlo Ar­gan, Aldo Rossi, Joseph Ryk­wert, Rob and Léon Kri­er and oth­ers). Later, an in­terest in ty­po­lo­gic­al (that is, on­to­lo­gic­al and pre-lin­guist­ic) think­ing in ar­chi­tec­ture — which might be called ar­chi­tec­ton­ic think­ing per se — led him to Al­berti and oth­er her­oes of ty­po­lo­gic­al think­ing in ar­chi­tec­ture in es­says in­clud­ing “Tip-an­ti­tip: k arkhitek­turnoi ger­me­nevtike” [Type-An­ti­type: To­wards Ar­chi­tec­tur­al Her­men­eut­ics] of 1991 (re­vised in 2012).

De­vel­op­ing tra­di­tion­al meth­ods of out­lining the ty­po­lo­gic­al ba­sics of ar­chi­tec­ture (like a prim­it­ive hut or the Temple of So­lomon), Vic­tor Car­pov re­cov­ers the pro­to­typ­al, ty­po­lo­gic­al ele­ments of ar­chi­tec­ture in Al­berti. They are: loc­al­ity (re­gio), area (area), di­vi­sion in­to parts (par­ti­tio), wall (par­ies), roof (tectum) and aper­tures (aper­tio). These six ba­sic ele­ments of ar­chi­tec­ture, in their con­struct­ive and on­to­lo­gic­al in­ter­pen­et­ra­tion, with the ground and the heav­ens, en­able us to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it from non-ar­chi­tec­ture. The des­tiny of these fun­da­ment­al ele­ments, dis­covered by Al­berti and gradu­ally de­veloped in ar­chi­tec­ture, is stud­ied in Vic­tor Car­pov’s re­cent pub­lic­a­tions, which in­clude the es­say “Up­razh­ni­aia dobro­de­tel v on­to­lo­gii: Ger­me­nevtika pri­roda u Al­berti” [Ex­er­cising Vir­tue in On­to­logy: The Her­men­eut­ics of Nature in Al­berti] of 2009, and oth­ers.

The present pa­per on Moi­sei Gin­zburg ex­am­ines the ty­po­lo­gic­al ar­chi­tec­tur­al think­ing at the core of con­struct­iv­ist meth­od. The “re­volu­tion­ary” sense of this study lies in at­trib­ut­ing to Gin­zburg and Rus­si­an con­struct­iv­ism a dom­in­ant role in the ty­po­lo­gic­al move­ment of mod­ern­ism — a move­ment to­ward the ba­sic ele­ments of ar­chi­tec­ture as such. These as­pects of Gin­zburg and con­struct­iv­ism were just briefly out­lined in the stud­ies of Se­lim Khan-Magomedov, Christina Lod­der, and oth­er dis­tin­guished schol­ars of con­struct­iv­ism. The present pa­per relates to Car­pov’s re­cent con­tri­bu­tion to the theme of ty­po­lo­gic­al strategies of the av­ant-garde, in­clud­ing es­says such as “Mi­fo­lo­giia is­torii: ‘Ar­bor mundi’ versus Dvorets Sov­etov” [“The Myth­o­logy of His­tory: ‘Ar­bor Mundi’ versus the Palace of So­vi­ets”] of 1994.

In the present pa­per, the fig­ure of Moi­sei Gin­zburg ap­pears as the founder of an av­ant-garde ar­chi­tec­tur­al ty­po­logy that re­moves con­struct­iv­ist the­ory and prac­tice from its spe­cif­ic so­cial and artist­ic con­text and el­ev­ates it to a new ar­chi­tec­tur­al ty­po­logy of mod­ern­ism. This search for ty­po­logy re­flects the in­ten­tions that Gin­zburg shared with such av­ant-garde trends as the Su­pre­mat­ist of the “ar­chi­tec­ture of the World sur­face” or Ve­limir Kh­leb­nikov’s use of ar­chetyp­al lan­guage to struc­ture the ar­chi­tec­ture of “Bu­detly­ans” [Fu­turi­ans or Fu­tur­ists] in his po­et­ic­al ima­gin­a­tion. Moi­sei Gin­zburg rep­res­ents the most ar­chi­tec­ton­ic and con­struct­ive mani­fest­a­tion of this av­ant-garde to­po­lo­gic­al/ty­po­lo­gic­al trend.

Ty­po­logy and ideo­logy:
Moi­sei Gin­zburg re­vis­ited

Vic­tor Car­pov
March 2013

I have vis­ited again…

—Al­eks­an­dr Pushkin1

Ra­tion­ally or para­dox­ic­ally, when events cru­cial for the ex­ist­ence and de­vel­op­ment of ar­chi­tec­ture (as a so­cially sig­ni­fic­ant or more mod­estly in­di­vidu­al phe­nomen­on) his­tor­ic­ally co­in­cide and be­come strangely con­nec­ted, they can de­term­ine, on an ex­ist­en­tial plane, not only the fate and vi­ab­il­ity of pro­fes­sion­al ar­chi­tec­tur­al or­gan­iz­a­tions or the des­tiny of an in­di­vidu­al per­son with­in these in­sti­tu­tions, but also, through their agency — the des­tiny of ar­chi­tec­ture it­self. In this re­spect, it is worth ex­amin­ing the fate of Moi­sei Iakovlevich Gin­zburg (1892-1946) as a pro­fes­sion­al fig­ure in the con­text of this para­dox­ic­al his­tor­ic­al per­spect­ive.

In 1992, on the cen­ten­ary of the ar­chi­tect’s birth, it was hard to ima­gine the nature of the his­tor­ic­al changes in so­ci­ety and ar­chi­tec­ture that would oc­cur with­in the space of twenty years. With­in the ex­pan­sion of pro­fes­sion­al activ­ity and the im­plac­able struggle and in­ev­it­able al­li­ance with aca­dem­ic tra­di­tions, the ele­ment­ary prob­lem of style and its re­la­tion­ship to the epoch con­tin­ued to be a prob­lem for Gin­zburg, who was cor­rect to ques­tion the nature of style in its re­la­tion to the mod­ern epoch. Per­tain­ing con­sist­ently to the his­tory of ar­chi­tec­ture and com­ing, from time to time, to the present, the rhythm of his re­turns com­men­sur­ate with cen­ten­ar­ies, Gin­zburg would be right to pose anew a ques­tion of the “style of the epoch” that today is of­ten simplist­ic­ally defined by math­em­at­ic­al ter­min­o­logy as di­git­al. Gin­zburg was deeply con­cerned, in a pro­found on­to­lo­gic­al sense, with the prob­lem of the “style of the epoch,” and this prob­lem once again re­turns to ar­chi­tec­ture, hav­ing nev­er left it, while ar­chi­tec­ture refers to Gin­zburg and lingers there. In its turn, the con­tem­por­ary body of pro­fes­sion­als — for Gin­zburg, “the young and un­known tribe” — em­phat­ic­ally turns to his leg­acy and that of the ar­chi­tects of his circle and gen­er­a­tion, just as they once turned (some­times un­wit­tingly and un­con­sciously) to the prac­tice of their pre­de­cessors.2

To a cer­tain ex­tent, any search for a style in ar­chi­tec­ture, art and life re­sembles a con­tinu­al at­tempt to define the es­sen­tial mean­ing of style. The cor­rel­a­tion — sim­ul­tan­eously between schol­arly and cre­at­ive pro­cesses and in­terests, cre­at­ive activ­ity and cul­tur­al and his­tor­ic­al in­ter­pret­a­tion — are evid­ent in the ar­chi­tec­tur­al leg­acy of Moi­sei Gin­zburg. Ac­tu­ally, in prac­tic­al, artist­ic and styl­ist­ic ex­per­i­ment­a­tion, as in at­tempts at his­tor­ic­al, crit­ic­al and the­or­et­ic­al per­cep­tions and ex­plan­a­tions of the prob­lems of style, the artist-ar­chi­tect and re­search­er-in­ter­pret­er more or less skill­fully, and of­ten un­con­sciously, op­er­ate and are ma­nip­u­lated by gen­er­ally ac­cep­ted and re­l­at­ively per­sist­ent his­tor­ic­al-cul­tur­al, philo­soph­ic­al-meta­phys­ic­al, and form­al-artist­ic con­ven­tions, motives and clichés, such as style and the epoch — words used in the title of a book and an ex­hib­i­tion of its au­thor’s work, which took place at the Shchu­sev Mu­seum of Ar­chi­tec­ture in Mo­scow in 1993. Sim­il­arly, Sovre­men­naia arkhitek­turaCon­tem­por­ary Ar­chi­tec­ture or Mod­ern Ar­chi­tec­ture — is the title of the journ­al pub­lished by the As­so­ci­ation of Con­tem­por­ary Ar­chi­tects as well as the term de­not­ing a broad­er in­ter­na­tion­al move­ment in twen­ti­eth-cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture. So­viet con­struct­iv­ism, that was born, ac­cord­ing to Gin­zburg, in “an epoch which is doubly con­struct­ive (on the basis of the so­cial­ist re­volu­tion… and on the basis of the un­pre­ced­en­ted growth of tech­no­logy)” can be con­sidered, des­pite some re­ser­va­tions, as an in­teg­ral part of this move­ment.

Para­dox­ic­ally in today’s post- and sim­ul­tan­eously neo-mod­ern­ist epoch, the earli­er purely ideal­ist­ic ques­tion of an “ig­nora­mus,” presen­ted in 1926 be­fore young ma­ter­i­al­ist ar­chi­tects, still sounds per­fectly rel­ev­ant — al­though, as be­fore, ideal­ist­ic: “To what ex­tent is the cul­tur­al con­cep­tion of the epoch em­bod­ied in con­tem­por­ary ar­chi­tec­ture?” Iuda Gross­man-Roshchin, the au­thor of “Notes of an Ig­nora­mus” on the pages of Con­tem­por­ary Ar­chi­tec­ture, demon­strat­ing en­vi­able know­ledge, dis­cussed the ques­tion:

In a not very happy and not very dis­tant time, we were taught in the sol­id words of ar­chi­tec­tur­al teach­ers and in the lan­guage of ar­chi­tec­tur­ally lit­er­ate people the fol­low­ing: “Every build­ing, whatever its destined pur­pose, has the aim of ful­filling our re­quire­ments; these re­quire­ments, thanks to the ma­ter­i­al and spir­itu­al nature of man, are of two types: ma­ter­i­al re­quire­ments and mor­al re­quire­ments.” And fur­ther: “There is even one kind of build­ing, that ful­fills no ma­ter­i­al re­quire­ments, but is erec­ted ex­clus­ively by vir­tue of the spir­itu­al de­mands of the hu­man spe­cies.” I think that I am not mis­taken when I say that mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture struggles with this du­al­ity, that con­tem­por­ary ar­chi­tec­ture fun­da­ment­ally splits the ideal­ist­ic as­pect in­to util­it­ari­an and aes­thet­ic ele­ments.3

To some ex­tent, Gin­zburg’s art­icle “The In­ter­na­tion­al Front of Mod­ern Ar­chi­tec­ture” (1927) provided an an­swer to this ques­tion:

Mod­ern So­viet ar­chi­tec­ture, or at least that as­so­ci­ated with our journ­al, is above all based on a pre­cise ma­ter­i­al­ist meth­od… Our front of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture is based on the prin­ciple that a com­pleted work of ar­chi­tec­ture, just like any oth­er mod­ern ob­ject, is not a house or an ob­ject to which some kind of aes­thet­ic ad­di­tion has been ap­plied, but a ra­tion­ally and sys­tem­at­ic­ally or­gan­ized con­crete task, pos­sess­ing, in the very meth­od of its or­gan­iz­a­tion, the max­im­um po­ten­tial for its ex­pres­sion.4

But the au­thor of “Notes” did not find this to be a con­clus­ive an­swer to his ques­tion:

It would be in­ter­est­ing to know pre­cisely how the ele­ment of plan­ning is mani­fes­ted in build­ings or projects of con­tem­por­ary ar­chi­tec­ture. Least sat­is­fy­ing of all is the ideo­lo­gic­al em­phas­is on strictly util­it­ari­an design. It might be the taste­less re­sur­gence of du­al­ity: a build­ing plus a so­viet-ideo­lo­gic­al an­nex. No. I am in­ter­ested in something else. How is the char­ac­ter of the epoch or­gan­ic­ally “mani­fest” in an ac­tu­al, con­crete ma­ter­i­al­iz­a­tion of an ar­chi­tec­tur­al con­cep­tion? Please note, that in my char­ac­ter of an ig­nora­mus, I am not cri­ti­ciz­ing any­thing, but merely pos­ing ques­tions. Per­haps this ques­tion is in­trins­ic­ally un­reas­on­able. I do not know. The valid­ity of the for­mu­la­tion is partly jus­ti­fied by com­rade Gin­zburg.5

This act of ideo­lo­gic­al profan­a­tion of the doc­trine of con­struct­iv­ism in mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture, as­pir­ing to a uni­ver­sal and in­ter­na­tion­al status on the eve of world re­volu­tion, deals with ty­po­logy, but also with ideo­logy, and gen­er­ally — with the style of the epoch and with ar­chi­tec­ture. Ty­po­logy and ideo­logy, as the fun­da­ment­al con­stitu­ent ele­ments of Gin­zburg’s ar­chi­tec­tur­al the­ory, do not merely jus­ti­fy the reas­on for pos­ing the ques­tion. Here ty­po­logy and ideo­logy, as philo­soph­ic­al and meth­od­o­lo­gic­al con­ven­tions and clichés, can be used to the max­im­um, so to speak, against them­selves, in the ty­po­lo­gic­al and ideo­lo­gic­al (con­cep­tu­al) ana­lys­is of con­struct­iv­ism’s func­tion­al meth­od, the nature of the op­er­a­tion and ma­nip­u­la­tion, trans­form­a­tion and de­form­a­tion of tra­di­tion­al ar­chi­tec­tur­al ideas, meth­ods, and types, forms and con­cepts, which to a sig­ni­fic­ant de­gree de­term­ined mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture’s and con­struct­iv­ist ar­chi­tec­ture’s searches for style.

Today, the an­swer to an­oth­er revered ques­tion of the post- or hy­per-mod­ern­ist peri­od — “When did the mod­ern move­ment in ar­chi­tec­ture be­gin?” — seems to be los­ing its former mean­ing and chro­no­lo­gic­al sig­ni­fic­ance as an ex­actly fixed his­tor­ic­al fact. Are the sources of this idea to be found in the dis­tant, ap­par­ently styl­ist­ic­ally and ideo­lo­gic­ally uni­fied nine­teenth cen­tury, be­gin­ning with the ideas of Wil­li­am Mor­ris and the arts and crafts move­ment, or even earli­er — in the ra­tion­al­ity of neo­clas­si­cism or in renais­sance hu­man­ism? Should two cen­tur­ies of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­tur­al de­vel­op­ment (1750-1950) be re­garded as a single his­tor­ic­al epoch, or is its vi­ab­il­ity lim­ited by the para­met­ers of the sci­entif­ic, tech­nic­al, so­cial and artist­ic re­volu­tions? The fun­da­ment­al ideas, pos­tu­lates, and state­ments of the mod­ern move­ment, as well as its philo­soph­ic­al, so­cial, ideo­lo­gic­al, and uto­pi­an ex­plan­a­tions, are prob­ably rooted in the same his­tor­ic­al and cul­tur­al con­text in which the treat­ise of Vit­ruvi­us and, more pro­foundly, the philo­soph­ic­al sys­tems of So­crates, Pla­to, and Ar­is­totle could be con­sidered mod­ern.

Without re­ject­ing the idea of the gen­er­al pro­gress of hu­man his­tory, des­pite the evid­ent present crisis of the evol­u­tion­ary view of the world, one can agree with Peter Collins that dur­ing the peri­od 1750-1950, new ideas and con­cep­tions not only fol­lowed each oth­er in an evol­u­tion­ary suc­ces­sion of nat­ur­al-his­tor­ic­al de­vel­op­ment and se­lec­tion, but con­stantly ap­peared in vari­ous re­la­tion­ships and dif­fer­ent com­bin­a­tions with the old.6 Ac­know­ledging the in­flu­ence of eco­nom­ic, so­cial and polit­ic­al factors on the ob­ject­ive changes in twen­ti­eth-cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture, it is im­port­ant to fo­cus on the wider and more pro­found sources of con­tem­por­ary ar­chi­tec­tur­al the­or­ies. Hence it would be help­ful to con­sider the changes in ar­chi­tec­tur­al ideas ly­ing be­hind the real trans­form­a­tions of form, the sources of which were rather philo­soph­ic­al (that same eco­nom­ic de­term­in­ism that was prob­ably, to a large de­gree, in­debted to the philo­soph­ic­al re­volu­tions in Eng­land and Ger­many) and arose above all from a new no­tion of his­tory.

The es­sence of the new per­cep­tion of his­tory is its in­ter­pret­a­tion as an evol­u­tion­ary pro­cess in which vari­ous sys­tems of cul­tur­al mean­ing were of only re­l­at­ive value. In ar­chi­tec­ture, the concept of evol­u­tion, per­ceived in par­al­lel with the idea of his­tor­ic­al re­lativ­ism, pro­duced a new concept of his­tory, which des­troyed a cen­tur­ies-old, un­waver­ing be­lief in ab­so­lute and im­mut­able val­ues, based on the doc­trines of clas­sic­al ar­chi­tec­ture. Alan Colquhoun, there­fore, in his Es­says in Ar­chi­tec­tur­al Cri­ti­cism: Mod­ern Ar­chi­tec­ture and His­tor­ic­al Change, ob­serves:

To­geth­er with the re­viv­al of past styles, a feel­ing began to de­vel­op that, if Goth­ic was the char­ac­ter­ist­ic style of the age of faith, if neo­clas­si­cism was the char­ac­ter­ist­ic style of the En­light­en­ment, then the present age should have its own style, rooted in the tech­nic­al pro­gress that was its own char­ac­ter­ist­ic sign. This grow­ing feel­ing was the co­rol­lary of the fact that re­lativ­ity was only one as­pect of post-Hegel­i­an epi­stem­o­logy. The oth­er as­pect was that his­tory was seen as pro­cess. His­tory pro­gressed dia­lect­ic­ally by tran­scend­ing it­self, each suc­cess­ive peri­od ab­sorb­ing the pre­vi­ous one and pro­du­cing a new syn­thes­is. Wheth­er, as in Hegel, this pro­cess was seen as tele­olo­gic­al — a move­ment to­ward the fu­ture in­carn­a­tion of the Ideal that ex­is­ted out­side time — or, as in Marx, it was seen as dia­lect­ic­ally work­ing it­self out in the class struggle seen ac­cord­ing to the Dar­wini­an mod­el, need not con­cern us. What is im­port­ant is the idea of his­tory as an in­tel­li­gible pro­cess with a pre­dict­able fu­ture.7

However, Balzac’s ro­mantic aph­or­ism — “One does not have to go far to prove that the present is su­per­i­or to the past; it is still ne­ces­sary to en­cour­age an­ti­cip­a­tion of a fu­ture, which is bet­ter than our present” — takes on the char­ac­ter of a con­crete plan of ac­tion for at­tain­ing the fu­ture. Sim­il­arly, The Com­mun­ist Mani­festo writ­ten by Karl Marx and Friedrich En­gels in 1848 (which Reyn­er Ban­ham con­siders the first fu­tur­ist mani­festo) starts out with a mys­tic­al pre­lude about a ghost wan­der­ing throughout Europe and con­cludes with an out­right re­volu­tion­ary ex­horta­tion.

As Ban­ham ex­plains in The­ory and Design in the First Ma­chine Age, there are three strands to the struc­ture of artist­ic mani­festos at the be­gin­ning of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury which em­body the paradig­mat­ic nature of these type of pro­gram­mat­ic an­nounce­ments: the past — “we re­ject”; the present — is the spir­it of the time or the epoch; the fu­ture — “we af­firm.”6 In this his­tor­ic­al-lin­guist­ic struc­ture, the me­di­um ele­ment, the spir­it of the times — the Zeit­geist — has an im­port­ant meth­od­o­lo­gic­al sig­ni­fic­ance for un­der­stand­ing the sources of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture. Hein­rich Wölfflin’s as­ser­tion that “style is an ex­pres­sion of the epoch” sug­ges­ted the pos­sib­il­ity that ar­chi­tec­ture as well as art con­tains with­in it­self the symp­tom or trace of a def­in­ite stage or peri­od of his­tor­ic­al de­vel­op­ment. The spir­it of the times or the style of the mod­ern epoch de­man­ded an ab­so­lutely new ar­chi­tec­ture.

But what is par­tic­u­larly im­port­ant for the present dis­cus­sion is the idea that “the spir­it of the times” ac­quired an ob­ject­ive ex­ist­ence, was af­firmed as a law of nat­ur­al evol­u­tion, and as a pur­pose­ful change in real­ity, in ac­cord­ance with nat­ur­al-sci­entif­ic or so­cial-eco­nom­ic the­ory. This idea, re­in­forced by the sci­entif­ic and ex­per­i­ment­al ap­proach of pos­it­iv­ism and giv­en the vera­city of ob­ject­ive fact and the epi­stem­o­lo­gic­al force of ob­ject­ive truth, was ex­pressed in the philo­soph­ic­al-ideo­lo­gic­al un­der­stand­ing of ob­ject­ive real­ity as a ma­ter­i­al real­ity that in­cluded ma­ter­i­al ob­jects and their prop­er­ties; space; time; move­ment; laws; so­cial, in­dus­tri­al and eco­nom­ic re­la­tion­ships; the state; cul­ture, etc. — that is, in prac­tice the whole of every­day life, which in this in­ter­pret­a­tion defines con­scious­ness.

The “spir­it of the times,” as a symp­tom and sym­bol of the changes of the epoch in every as­pect of life, was mani­fest in art and ar­chi­tec­ture at the end of the nine­teenth cen­tury and be­gin­ning of the twen­ti­eth in two par­al­lel, but re­l­at­ively in­de­pend­ent, trends. One was re­lated to the artist­ic elite’s re­jec­tion of bour­geois cul­ture, usurp­ing artist­ic polit­ics and as­so­ci­ated with ec­lecticism and aca­dem­ic tra­di­tions in ar­chi­tec­ture. Nev­er­the­less, this re­jec­tion did not in­clude any dir­ect so­cial or polit­ic­al cri­ti­cism. On the oth­er hand, uto­pi­an so­cial­ism, and Marx­ist dia­lect­ic­al and his­tor­ic­al ma­ter­i­al­ism, as­sisted the emer­gence and de­vel­op­ment of a so­cial-func­tion­al the­ory of ar­chi­tec­ture. Yet even be­fore this, just as these the­or­ies were emer­ging, and at the same time as the de­vel­op­ment of their eth­ic­al and aes­thet­ic premises in the teach­ings of Wil­li­am Mor­ris and fol­low­ers of this new dir­ec­tion in aes­thet­ics, art and ar­chi­tec­ture, there de­veloped “a func­tion­al meth­od” for ar­chi­tec­ture with­in the heart of the aca­dem­ic tra­di­tion it­self. This had de­veloped on the basis of the proto-func­tion­al­ism of Carlo Lodoli, Marc-Ant­oine Laugi­er, Jean-Nic­olas-Louis Dur­and, Eugène Vi­ol­let-le-Duc, Henri Lab­rouste, Au­gus­tus Pu­gin, Au­guste Choisy, Gottfried Sem­per, and Ju­li­en Gaud­et. It paved the way for ab­stract art and its aes­thet­ic found­a­tions.

Mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture, com­bin­ing the ab­stract form­al­ism of the av­ant-garde and the pro­duct­ive sci­entif­ic and tech­nic­al po­ten­tial of the new in­dus­tri­al epoch, de­veloped forms and meth­ods, in­ten­ded not only to re­flect, sym­bol­ize, or im­it­ate the func­tion­ing of a de­vel­op­ing so­ci­ety, but also them­selves to act­ively pro­mote ma­ter­i­al and func­tion­al changes in ob­ject­ive real­ity and every­day life.

On the one hand, ar­chi­tec­ture looked to the ra­tion­al lo­gic of func­tion­al­ism and tech­no­lo­gic­al pro­gress. On the oth­er, it re­mained an in­de­pend­ent artist­ic dis­cip­line, sub­ject to the laws of aes­thet­ics in which the au­thor­ity of new per­cep­tu­al and psy­cho­lo­gic­al the­or­ies con­firmed the value of the an­cient cat­egory of beauty. This con­tra­dic­tion, un­der­stood as the dom­in­ance of the new over the old, is re­flec­ted in a type of ar­chi­tec­tur­al concept that treats the func­tion­al and con­struct­ive ele­ment as a ma­ter­i­al ob­ject, as a tech­nic­al and so­cial norm or stand­ard, but un­con­sciously and in­tu­it­ively ex­per­i­ences it as an aes­thet­ic, eth­ic­al and ideo­lo­gic­al im­per­at­ive, as an idea and a con­ven­tion.

As re­gards ty­po­logy, at the same time as the es­sen­tial clas­si­fic­a­tion of build­ings ac­cord­ing to their pur­pose, the lo­gic­al and ra­tion­al ana­lys­is and or­der­ing of the parts or ele­ments of the ar­chi­tec­ton­ic sys­tem, there takes place the struc­tur­ing and de­vel­op­ment of a “pro­gram” for each in­di­vidu­al type. The isol­a­tion, in­vest­ig­a­tion, clas­si­fic­a­tion and or­der­ing of the sep­ar­ate func­tions of a build­ing are ac­com­pan­ied by a striv­ing to­ward their dis­crete design, in ac­cord­ance with the re­quire­ments of the cause-and-ef­fect con­nec­tion between func­tion and form. On the one hand, this leads to the sep­ar­a­tion of the func­tion­al volumes or spaces and their flex­ible and func­tion­al or­gan­iz­a­tion in­to a single whole. On the oth­er, it leads to the idea of a single uni­ver­sal space, the ex­tern­al design of which does not de­pend on the quant­ity or in­ner or­gan­iz­a­tion of the parts or func­tions. In this way, the ab­stract cat­egor­ies of func­tion and space be­come the fun­da­ment­al ele­ments and ty­po­lo­gic­al at­trib­utes of ar­chi­tec­ture.

All these words and cat­egor­ies — type, spe­cies or genre, pro­gram or build­ing, plan, part and ele­ment, func­tion and form — re­late the new meth­od of Mod­ern Ar­chi­tec­ture back to the fam­ous ra­tion­al, struc­tur­al, and ty­po­lo­gic­al meth­od of com­pos­i­tion, for­mu­lated at the be­gin­ning of the nine­teenth cen­tury by Jean-Nic­olas-Louis Dur­and at the Ecole Poly­tech­nique,9 and de­veloped in the middle of the same cen­tury by Gottfried Sem­per in his “prac­tic­al aes­thet­ic,” with ref­er­ence to Frédéric Cu­vi­er, Dur­and and a real “Carib­bean hut” — the prim­or­di­al type of all ar­chi­tec­ture — ex­hib­ited at The Great Ex­hib­i­tion of the Works of In­dustry of all Na­tions, in 1851 at the Crys­tal Palace, Lon­don.10 Even be­fore these ideas al­most lit­er­ally were be­ing bor­rowed and de­veloped at the be­gin­ning of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury by the Ger­man Werkbund and the Bauhaus, a struc­tur­al-ty­po­lo­gic­al meth­od of com­pos­i­tion had been per­fec­ted in the work of Ju­li­en Gaud­et, a pro­fess­or at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.11 His stu­dent Tony Garni­er (an­oth­er fam­ous stu­dent was Au­guste Per­ret — also a pre­curs­or of the mod­ern move­ment) trans­lated this meth­od in 1904-1918 from the scale of a single build­ing to the urb­an scale in his project Une cité in­dus­tri­elle, which fol­lowed Al­berti’s pre­cept that a city should be re­garded as a large build­ing.

This meth­od of com­pos­ing form­al, con­struct­ive, func­tion­al and spa­tial ele­ments was em­ployed by the an­cients as well as by the mod­erns, only with dif­fer­ent levels of un­der­stand­ing its mech­an­ism. The con­struct­ive and func­tion­al parts of a build­ing (i.e. the ar­chi­tec­tur­al ele­ments, ac­cord­ing to Dur­and and Gaud­et) formed the func­tion­al and spa­tial volumes, so that the com­pos­i­tion ele­ments, in Dur­and’s ter­min­o­logy, rep­res­en­ted the build­ing it­self or its parts. To ar­range, in a lit­er­al or fig­ur­at­ive sense, meant to com­pose, as­semble and build. It is pre­cisely in this mean­ing of “the as­sembly of house-build­ing” that the aca­dem­ic meth­od of com­pos­i­tion was trans­ferred to mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture, as Ban­ham cor­rectly ob­served: Gin­zburg’s “func­tion­al meth­od,” with all its so­cial and ideo­lo­gic­al con­nota­tions, was fun­da­ment­ally as in­stru­ment­al as the meth­od of Dur­and and Gaud­et. The ad­apt­a­tion of this new and sim­ul­tan­eously old design meth­od and tool to the new in­dus­tri­al and tech­no­lo­gic­al pos­sib­il­it­ies and so­cial and eco­nom­ic re­quire­ments of con­tem­por­ary so­ci­ety pre­dict­ably de­man­ded the im­ple­ment­a­tion of eco­nom­ic and tech­nic­al pro­cesses of ef­fect­ive ra­tion­al­iz­a­tion in the form of pro­ced­ures of typi­fic­a­tion, stand­ard­iz­a­tion, and in­teg­ra­tion of all the lis­ted ele­ments at the scale of both a build­ing — a tra­di­tion­al ty­po­lo­gic­al cat­egory — and a city.

Gin­zburg’s role in de­vel­op­ing new types of build­ing is gen­er­ally re­cog­nized and is con­stantly men­tioned by schol­ars of his work. One only has to refer to the fairly de­tailed ana­lys­is of his work by Se­lim O. Khan-Magomedov in his mono­graph M. Ia. Gin­zburg.12 The the­or­et­ic­al and prac­tic­al value of these stud­ies can be amp­li­fied by ex­plor­ing sev­er­al artist­ic, philo­soph­ic­al and ideo­lo­gic­al as­pects of Gin­zburg’s ty­po­lo­gic­al con­cep­tions, mainly presen­ted in his book Style and Epoch and in some journ­al art­icles.13

Con­sid­er­ing style as a faith­ful re­flec­tion of the epoch, Gin­zburg pro­poses not only a meth­od “of his­tor­ic­al eval­u­ation… in re­la­tion­ship to the en­vir­on­ment that cre­ated it,” but also a “ge­net­ic meth­od… de­fin­ing the value of a phe­nomen­on from the point of view of its re­la­tion­ship to the fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of style and the gen­er­al evol­u­tion­ary pro­cess.”14 Ac­tu­ally re­turn­ing to the idea of the prim­or­di­al type and cit­ing the hut or dol­men, Gin­zburg re­peats the idea of styl­ist­ic ty­po­logy de­veloped by Ant­oine-Chrysostóme Quatremère de Quincy at the turn of the eight­eenth to the nine­teenth cen­tury in his en­cyc­lo­ped­ic dic­tion­ary, where in the ar­chi­tec­tur­al sec­tion he pro­poses on the bases of a ty­po­logy of style a sin­gu­lar ty­po­logy of prim­or­di­al forms and types, each of which cor­res­ponds to a dif­fer­ent geo­graph­ic­al or cli­mat­ic con­di­tion, and also to the nature of the fun­da­ment­al activ­ity of the re­spect­ive na­tion­al­ity.15 For in­stance, the cave as the hunter’s shel­ter is the prim­or­di­al type of Egyp­tian ar­chi­tec­ture, the tent as the dwell­ing of the no­mad­ic her­der of cattle is the type for Chinese ar­chi­tec­ture, and fi­nally the hut as the house for a tiller of the soil is the type for Greek ar­chi­tec­ture. For Quatremère de Quincy, each of these types not only ex­plains the gen­es­is and evol­u­tion of the cor­res­pond­ing style, but also helps to de­term­ine the pre­dom­in­ance of one style over an­oth­er. Since the type con­tains the po­ten­tial for its fu­ture de­vel­op­ment, the cave as a prim­or­di­al type for the heavy, massive, dark Egyp­tian temple did not pos­sess the po­ten­tial for fur­ther evol­u­tion, like the light, mo­bile and tem­por­ary struc­ture of the tent — the type of Chinese ar­chi­tec­ture. In con­trast, the wooden con­struc­tion of the hut, trans­lated in­to stone, demon­strated the po­ten­tial for evol­u­tion and pro­gress. Sim­ul­tan­eously light, bright, and dur­able, this con­struc­tion as a prim­or­di­al type was en­dowed with the mean­ing and sig­ni­fic­ance of the eth­ic­al and aes­thet­ic ideal and the im­mut­able and fun­da­ment­al truths for the de­vel­op­ment of ar­chi­tec­ture from its prim­it­ive con­di­tion to the clas­sic­al per­fec­tion of the Greek or­der and temples. For his part, Gin­zburg wrote:

It is pos­sible to dis­tin­guish ge­net­ic styles of a less­er or great­er value in so far as they pos­sess to a less­er or great­er de­gree, fea­tures and po­ten­tial pos­sib­il­it­ies for the cre­ation of the new… Each his­tor­ic­al epoch, or rather each vi­tal cre­at­ive force is char­ac­ter­ized by cer­tain artist­ic or­gan­isms: so each epoch in the plastic arts had its fa­vor­ite type, which is in­trins­ic to it… It is pre­cisely the same in ar­chi­tec­ture: hence the temple with its typ­ic­al fea­tures was most char­ac­ter­ist­ic of Greece, the church and cathed­ral of the Middle Ages, and the palace of the Renais­sance.16

For Gin­zburg, the ge­net­ic and his­tor­ic­al eval­u­ation is not al­ways re­lated to “the qual­ity of an art­work’s form­al ele­ments,” al­though he re­cog­nized their trans­fer­ence to the struc­tures of one or an­oth­er epoch, but above all to their func­tion­al pur­pose.17

For Quatremère de Quincy, the char­ac­ter and value of each prim­or­di­al type — cave, tent, or hut — was de­term­ined by the na­tion­al and eth­no­graph­ic cri­ter­ia of man’s activ­it­ies. For Gin­zburg, the ab­stract cat­egory of work, with all its Marx­ist con­nota­tions, be­came the gen­er­al cri­terion — the es­sen­tial pre­requis­ite for the de­tach­ment of man from the an­im­al world, his phys­ic­al ex­ist­ence, his per­fec­tion and the emer­gence of so­ci­ety, class iden­tity, so­cial and eco­nom­ic re­la­tion­ships, and the free and multi-fa­ceted de­vel­op­ment of the in­di­vidu­al as a con­di­tion for the free and multi-fa­ceted de­vel­op­ment of every­one: “The ele­ment of life, moved in­to primary po­s­i­tion in the new act­ive so­cial en­vir­on­ment of con­tem­por­ary real­ity — by the work­ing class — is work, be­cause it is the main con­tent of the life of this so­cial class and its uni­fy­ing char­ac­ter­ist­ic.”18

This pe­cu­li­ar re­place­ment of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “nat­ur­al man” with so­cial­ized “work­ing man” res­ul­ted in “the prim­it­ive hut” be­ing re­placed by “work­ers’ hous­ing,” and the class-ideo­lo­gic­al, so­ci­olo­gic­al prob­lem­at­ic be­ing in­tro­duced in­to ar­chi­tec­ture. On the one hand, this was in total agree­ment with the func­tion­al­ist ap­proach to­ward the ge­net­ic basis of type, as an ele­ment of the new so­cial and eco­nom­ic or­gan­iz­a­tion of so­ci­ety, ex­ist­ence and every­day life (i.e. with the func­tion­al pur­pose of the ob­ject be­ing like that of any oth­er item of every­day life or ele­ment of ob­ject­ive real­ity). On the oth­er hand, the emer­gence and in­tro­duc­tion in­to ar­chi­tec­ture of yet an­oth­er new type, dir­ectly con­nec­ted with that very same cat­egory of work as the func­tion­al pro­cess — the type of the house of labor, fact­ory or mill — so­cially and ideo­lo­gic­ally jus­ti­fied the form­al and artist­ic lan­guage of fu­tur­ist ar­chi­tec­ture. “In this way,” states Gin­zburg, it be­comes the first pri­or­ity, as the fun­da­ment­al prob­lem con­front­ing con­tem­por­ary real­ity, to de­vel­op solu­tions for all those ar­chi­tec­tur­al or­gan­isms that are as­so­ci­ated with the concept of work: work­ers’ hous­ing and the house of labor and the end­less quant­ity of tasks re­lated to them.19

Though Gin­zburg viewed the prob­lem of the “form­al and typ­ic­al ex­pres­sion” of work­ers’ hous­ing as a task de­mand­ing a fu­ture solu­tion, a paradigm and key for the res­ol­u­tion of this task was provided by the ob­jectiv­ity and ma­ter­i­al­ity of European and Amer­ic­an in­dus­tri­al build­ings or houses of labor (“where the most acutely pen­et­rat­ing key to mod­ern­ity provided solu­tions as­ton­ish­ing in their purely form­al per­fec­tion, un­doubtedly pre­dict­ing the fu­ture”).20

Em­phas­is on act­ive work or hu­man labor — the ele­ment of so­ci­ety’s pro­duct­ive power, defined by Marx­ist philo­sophy as a de­term­in­ant factor in the his­tor­ic­al pro­cess — sys­tem­at­ic­ally led Gin­zburg to an­oth­er cat­egory of his­tor­ic­al ma­ter­i­al­ism — the means of pro­duc­tion — which al­lowed him to go from the house of work to the ma­chine and tech­no­logy as sources of in­spir­a­tion for the cre­ation of the new ar­chi­tec­ture, now jus­ti­fied from the point of view of his­tor­ic­al ma­ter­i­al­ism:

Just as we defined the re­la­tion­ship between the ma­chine and in­dus­tri­al struc­tures, we must define the ana­log­ous re­la­tion­ship between the in­dus­tri­al struc­ture and the ar­chi­tec­ture of work­ers’ hous­ing… In­dus­tri­al ar­chi­tec­ture, be­ing close to the sources of a con­tem­por­ary un­der­stand­ing of form, must in­flu­ence even the most tra­di­tion­al and con­ser­vat­ive hous­ing. From in­dus­tri­al ar­chi­tec­ture rather than from any­where else, we can ex­pect a real in­dic­a­tion of what, how, and in what way this can be done. We are talk­ing about adding the fi­nal ar­chi­tec­tur­al ele­ment — ad­equate liv­ing and so­cial build­ings — to an already ex­ist­ing mod­ern en­vir­on­ment: the ma­chine, en­gin­eer­ing and in­dus­tri­al struc­tures.21

It is pre­cisely to­ward the solu­tion of this task that the search for new types of build­ing and means of or­gan­iz­ing and form­ing “the new every­day life of mod­ern man” had been dir­ec­ted:

In the con­di­tions of the build­ing of so­cial­ism that we are ex­per­i­en­cing today, every new solu­tion of the ar­chi­tect — a work­ers’ house, club, or fact­ory — is con­sidered by us to be the in­ven­tion of a mod­ern type, an­swer­ing its tasks and suit­able for re­pro­du­cing in any quant­ity, in ac­cord­ance with gov­ern­ment re­quire­ments.22

Eco­nom­ic de­term­in­ism and ra­tion­al­iz­a­tion, real­ized po­et­ic­ally in tech­nic­al forms, al­lowed the ex­am­in­a­tion of dwell­ing and so­cial func­tions as in­dis­pens­able sup­ple­ments to the pro­duc­tion pro­cess, while hous­ing and so­cial build­ings — the com­ple­ment­ary ele­ments of the in­dus­tri­al en­vir­on­ment — were “the fi­nal ar­chi­tec­tur­al com­pon­ents.” The evol­u­tion­ary view of his­tory as a pro­cess of de­vel­op­ment from lower to high­er forms re­duced the mean­ing of the ar­chi­tec­tur­al type as a prim­or­di­al prin­ciple, rule and idea — so­ci­ety liv­ing to­geth­er around the fire, a prim­it­ive hut or the temple — to the sig­ni­fic­ance of a com­pleted product, an ul­ti­mate res­ult, a ma­ter­i­al ob­ject and per­fec­ted stand­ard.

Re­turn­ing in 1934 to the prob­lem of “the crit­ic­al mas­ter­ing of the en­tire her­it­age of the past, from the prim­it­ive sav­age’s hut to the flight of a stra­tostat,” Gin­zburg did not ap­peal to what would have been nat­ur­al, to one of the defined his­tor­ic­al and tra­di­tion­al types, as for ex­ample to that from which he began to con­sider the ar­chi­tec­tur­al her­it­age. In­stead, he tried to re­define it: “What is a type? A type is the res­ult of work on com­pre­hend­ing new so­cial tasks.”23 From this defin­i­tion, fol­lowed a cri­ti­cism of the con­di­tion of stand­ard­iz­a­tion and typi­fic­a­tion at that time, and also a pro­pos­al for their im­prove­ment, that clearly, al­though un­wit­tingly, re­vealed the in­ner con­tra­dic­tion between the so­cial task and the struc­ture in re­spect to func­tion and planned or­gan­iz­a­tion of the design and build­ing pro­cess. Ac­cord­ing to the think­ing of the au­thor, however, it “rad­ic­ally changes the char­ac­ter of the work of the mod­ern ar­chi­tect,” who in turn “con­siders his activ­ity not as the ful­fill­ment of spe­cif­ic tasks, but as the es­tab­lish­ment of ar­chi­tec­tur­al stand­ards… as a con­stant per­fec­tion of those stand­ards.”24

Nu­mer­ous designs for com­mun­al hous­ing, hous­ing of a trans­ition­al type, blocks of res­id­ences and hos­tels with cells, flats and houses with one, two, three, 3.5 and 5.5 rooms, work­ers’ clubs, palaces of cul­ture and ser­vice build­ings, which had to “in ad­vance lead the ar­chi­tect’s at­ten­tion away from seek­ing in­di­vidu­al solu­tions to­wards the per­fec­tion of a stand­ard and to­wards the elab­or­a­tion and the max­im­um typi­fic­a­tion of all its de­tails,” on the whole, rep­res­ent more or less ideal mod­els and stand­ards.25 But the pro­gram­mat­ic ex­clu­sion of in­di­vidu­al­ity and ori­gin­al­ity (ex­cept for en­gin­eer­ing) im­plied an un­am­bigu­ous an­swer to that ques­tion, which is fa­mil­i­ar to mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture and was for­mu­lated by Her­mann Muthesi­us in 1911 for the Ger­man Werkbund — “Type or In­di­vidu­al­ity?” — in fa­vor of the type, in its de­formed real­iz­a­tion as an in­dus­tri­al pro­to­type and stand­ard. On the mat­ter of mas­ter­ing the his­tor­ic­al tra­di­tion, Gin­zburg in 1924, had already de­clared:

In this way, every prin­ciple of our clas­sic­al her­it­age must change, at least quant­it­at­ively, in or­der to be suit­able for the present day. But this quant­it­at­ive change is a new ar­chi­tec­tur­al qual­ity, be­cause it en­tails the re­place­ment of old meth­ods by new, and the at­tach­ment of new in­ven­tions to what is still vi­able.26

It was pro­posed (if not a play on words) to use philo­soph­ic­al cat­egor­ies of qual­it­at­ive change at the ex­pense of a re­verse, a qual­it­at­ive change with a minus sign, i.e. a de­duc­tion, re­duc­tion and ex­clu­sion from ar­chi­tec­ture of the clas­sic­al her­it­age, but a quant­it­at­ive change with a plus sign or mul­tiply­ing a thou­sand­fold, in the words of Henry Van de Velde, an in­crease once the per­fect stand­ard that has been at­tained has not dir­ectly led to the de­sired qual­ity. This stopped pleas­ing Gin­zburg him­self:

With us, the type has turned in­to a pat­tern, a series of cri­ter­ia, which the ar­chi­tect must use without fail… the type has turned in­to simple mech­an­ic­al blinkers, re­strict­ing the ar­chi­tect’s think­ing and for­cing him to fol­low the line of least res­ist­ance.27

At the same time, “un­der­stand­ing the prob­lem of the type cor­rectly” con­tin­ued to be con­sidered “one of the most in­ter­est­ing so­cial and ar­chi­tec­tur­al tasks, the solu­tion of which can lead us closest to the form of the new pro­let­ari­an ar­chi­tec­ture.”28

After the peri­od of “mas­ter­ing the clas­sic­al her­it­age,” the suc­ceed­ing stage of stand­ard­iz­a­tion and typi­fic­a­tion in So­viet ar­chi­tec­ture fol­lowed once-pre­scribed trends of con­stantly per­fect­ing stand­ards. End­less in­vest­ig­a­tions in­to the eco­nom­ic­ally ef­fect­ive func­tion­al and con­struc­tion­al solu­tions for a par­tic­u­lar type of build­ing and with­in the lim­its of “con­struc­tion norms and reg­u­la­tions” moved to­ward sim­pli­fic­a­tion and the ac­cept­ance of a single op­tim­um vari­ant. In this pro­cess of “propaga­tion” and sim­ul­tan­eous re­duc­tion, the type, via an in­dus­tri­al and ty­po­lo­gic­al mod­el and stand­ard, ac­quired the prop­er­ties of a norm­at­ive pro­to­type and, as a res­ult of the lo­gic­al com­ple­tion of this se­quence of ty­po­lo­gic­al op­er­a­tions, ma­nip­u­la­tion, trans­form­a­tion and de­form­a­tion, turned in­to a ste­reo­type and cliché.

For Gin­zburg and the ar­chi­tects of his circle and gen­er­a­tion, it seemed that ar­chi­tec­ture as a faith­ful fol­low­er of his­tory ought to de­vel­op ac­cord­ing to the laws of dia­lectics as ap­plied to so­cial de­vel­op­ment.

The struggle and the unity of op­pos­ites (with the em­phas­is on the struggle), re­pu­di­ation for the sake of re­pu­di­ation, and the strategy of in­creas­ing the quant­ity in or­der to achieve a new qual­ity in ar­chi­tec­ture per­fectly agreed with the dom­in­ant philo­soph­ic­al and ideo­lo­gic­al tend­en­cies of the times. But in ar­chi­tec­ture, as in so­ci­ety, the situ­ation that ar­chi­tec­tur­al style should have re­flec­ted, so ap­par­ent in pure the­ory and meth­od, was des­troyed by his­tory it­self.

Ex­amin­ing So­viet con­struct­iv­ism and the ar­chi­tec­ture of the So­viet peri­od with­in the gen­er­al con­text of the mod­ern move­ment, the in­ter­na­tion­al style or func­tion­al­ism demon­strates both the autonomy and in­ter­de­pend­ence of these trends.

Un­doubtedly, Gin­zburg was right when he de­clared that new trends and in­flu­ences (in­clud­ing ty­po­logy and ideo­logy) came to ar­chi­tec­ture from the north. But he was only half or a quarter right if one takes in­to ac­count the four corners of the world, for the greatest in­flu­ences, that he ex­per­i­enced him­self, like many be­fore and at the same time, cir­cu­lated and in­vis­ibly roamed and whirled throughout Europe and Amer­ica and then re­turned from the south, from Italy and Mil­an where, in 1914, Gin­zburg re­ceived his first of­fi­cial ar­chi­tec­tur­al train­ing. In Mil­an, in 1912-1914, the draughtsman Ant­o­nio Sant’Elia cre­ated his ar­chi­tec­tur­al fantas­ies and pub­lished his ideas of city plan­ning, em­bod­ied in the projects for the Città Nuova and Mil­ano 2000. In Mil­an in May 1914, the ex­hib­i­tion Nuove Tenden­ze opened, the cata­logue for which con­tained Sant’Elia’s de­clar­a­tion (Mes­sag­gio). Re­peat­ing the Mes­sag­gio, “The Mani­festo of Fu­tur­ist Ar­chi­tec­ture” was writ­ten and pub­lished on June 11, 1914 (most ca­non­ic­al fu­tur­ist mani­fes­tos were dated the el­ev­enth day of the month). It was also the to­po­graphy of Mil­an that was de­scribed in the pro­logue to “The Found­ing Mani­festo” of Fu­tur­ism, ini­tially writ­ten in French by Fil­ippo Tom­maso Ma­ri­netti, a gradu­ate of the Sor­bonne, and pub­lished in the Parisi­an news­pa­per Le Figaro in Feb­ru­ary 1909.

The fi­nal para­graph of Ma­ri­netti’s mani­festo is not merely dis­tinct­ive for its re­volu­tion­ary mood and new meta­phors. In a po­et­ic form, it es­tab­lishes an in­dis­sol­uble con­nec­tion between tech­no­logy and art, between the ma­chine and ar­chi­tec­ture, with its new ty­po­logy of in­dus­tri­al and en­gin­eer­ing struc­tures:

We will sing of the stir­ring of great crowds — work­ers, pleas­ure-seekers, ri­oters — and the con­fused sea of col­or and sound as re­volu­tion sweeps through a mod­ern met­ro­pol­is. We will sing the mid­night fer­vor of ar­sen­als and shipyards blaz­ing with elec­tric moons; in­sa­ti­able sta­tions swal­low­ing the smoking ser­pents of their trains; factor­ies hung from the clouds by the twis­ted threads of their smoke; bridges flash­ing like knives in the sun; gi­ant gym­nasts that leap over rivers; ad­ven­tur­ous steam­ers that scent the ho­ri­zon; deep-ches­ted lo­co­mot­ives that paw the ground with their wheels, like stal­lions har­nessed with steel tubing; the easy flight of air­planes, their pro­pellers beat­ing the wind like ban­ners, with a sound like the ap­plause of a mighty crowd.29

In the “spir­it of the times,” Sant’Elia went no fur­ther than sum­mar­iz­ing and de­fin­ing the role of ar­chi­tec­ture in a peri­od of tech­nic­al re­volu­tion, while Gin­zburg and the ar­chi­tects of his circle and gen­er­a­tion had to ob­jec­ti­fy, im­ple­ment and ma­ter­i­al­ize these ideas in the con­di­tions of a real so­cial re­volu­tion and the con­struc­tion of a new way of life (Fig­ure 14). Geo­graphy, as well as re­gion­al and cul­tur­al in­flu­ences, it seems, played a sec­ond­ary role in this pro­cess, in­so­far as these ideas were in­teg­ral to and em­bod­ied in tech­no­logy it­self, which was both cause and ef­fect. Gin­zburg was pro­foundly con­vinced that “loc­al and na­tion­al fea­tures in the present con­text are too in­sig­ni­fic­ant in com­par­is­on with the lev­el­ing power of con­tem­por­ary tech­no­logy and eco­nomy.”30 Today, this sounds like an iron­ic, and yet at the same time an op­tim­ist­ic or omin­ous, pre­dic­tion.

Gin­zburg’s ty­po­lo­gic­al con­cepts, which formed the basis for the de­vel­op­ment of the or­tho­dox func­tion­al and in­dus­tri­al ty­po­lo­gic­al the­or­ies in ar­chi­tec­ture of the So­viet peri­od, al­low us to ex­am­ine these the­or­ies with­in the gen­er­al con­text of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture, but only with­in the lim­its of gen­er­al ideo­logy. In its re­volu­tion­ary spe­cificity, its polit­ic­al, so­cial, eco­nom­ic and his­tor­ic­al con­text, So­viet con­struct­iv­ism re­mains a re­l­at­ively autonom­ous phe­nomen­on, thanks to its spe­cial ideo­lo­gic­al found­a­tion, and com­plex re­la­tion­ship to the gen­er­al philo­soph­ic­al and artist­ic doc­trine of mod­ern­ism. Ex­amin­ing the re­la­tion­ship between ty­po­logy and ideo­logy in Gin­zburg’s ar­chi­tec­tur­al leg­acy would seem to per­mit a more ac­cur­ate de­lin­eation of these bound­ar­ies.


1 Алек­сан­др Пуш­кин, “…Вновь я по­се­тил …,” in А.С. Пуш­кин, Со­чи­не­ния в трех то­мах. (Моск­ва: Ху­до­жест­вен­ная Ли­те­ра­ту­ра, 1986), 1:574; Eng­lish trans­la­tion, “I Have Vis­ited Again,” by D.M. Thomas.
2 Gin­zburg’s re­turn (al­most spir­itu­al­ist in a meta­phor­ic­al sense) in re­sponse to these con­stant and per­sist­ent ref­er­ences — from the point of view of his­tori­ograph­ic in­terest or in his­tor­ic­al and the­or­et­ic­al re­search, con­duc­ted crit­ic­ally or in a po­et­ic and ro­mantic man­ner — is a kind of self-con­sist­ent and per­suas­ive re­mind­er. The his­tor­ic­al memory of one of the pat­ri­archs of So­viet ar­chi­tec­ture, rep­res­en­ted by his designs, build­ing, es­says and pre­cepts, could prob­ably be brought to­geth­er with the Ni­et­z­schean idea of etern­al re­turn as a po­et­ic, an al­most sac­red or mys­tic­al, em­bod­i­ment of sev­er­al mo­ments of every­day life, im­prin­ted with or per­son­i­fy­ing the his­tor­ic­al memory in sym­bol­ic forms, signs, fig­ures, events and ac­tions, which could help to pre­serve the evid­ent, but dif­fi­cult to ex­plain, con­nec­tion between the past, the present and the fu­ture. Des­pite the pro­found philo­soph­ic­al mean­ing of this phe­nomen­on, a phys­ic­al, spec­u­lat­ive or any oth­er type of re­turn pos­sesses sev­er­al nos­tal­gic as­pects, as­so­ci­ated with in­di­vidu­al ex­per­i­ences of the his­tor­ic­al peri­od, mo­ments that can be po­et­ic­ally com­mu­nic­ated by means of meta­phors. In this sense, Gin­zburg’s etern­al re­turn re­calls Al­ex­an­der Pushkin’s fam­ous re­turn to the ham­let of Mikhail­ovskoe after ten years away:
…Where a road, scarred by many rain­falls, climbs
The hill, three pine trees stand – one by it­self,
The oth­ers close to­geth­er. When I rode
On horse­back past them in the moon­lit night,
The friendly rust­ling mur­mur of their crowns
Would wel­come me. Now, I have rid­den out
Upon that road, and seen those trees again.
They have re­mained the same, make the same mur­mur —
But round their aging roots, where all be­fore
was bar­ren and na­ked, a thick­et of young pines
Has sprouted; like green chil­dren around the shad­ows
of the two neigh­bor­ing pines. But in the dis­tance
Their sol­it­ary com­rade stands, mor­ose,
Like some old bach­el­or, and round its root,
All is bar­ren as be­fore.
I greet you, young
and un­known tribe of pine trees! I’ll not see
your mighty up­ward thrust of years to come
When you will over­top these friends of mine
And shield their an­cient sum­mits from the gaze
Of pass­ersby. But may my grand­son hear
Your wel­come mur­mur when, re­turn­ing home
From lively com­pany, and filled with gay
And pleas­ant thoughts, he passes you in the night,
And thinks per­haps of me….
Пушкин, “…Вновь я посетил …”, 1:574; Eng­lish trans­la­tion, “I Have Vis­ited again”, by D. M. Thomas.
3 И.С. Грос­с­ман-Ро­щин, «За­мет­ки Про­фа­на». [“Notes of an Ig­nora­mus”], Со­вре­мен­ная ар­хи­тек­ту­ра [Mod­ern Ar­chi­tec­ture] 2 (1926): 77-8.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 Peter Collins, Chan­ging Ideals in Mod­ern Ar­chi­tec­ture 17501950 (Lon­don: Faber and Faber, 1965).
7 Alan Colquhoun, “His­tor­icism and the Lim­its of Se­mi­ology,” in Es­says in Ar­chi­tec­tur­al Cri­ti­cism: Mod­ern Ar­chi­tec­ture and His­tor­ic­al Change (Cam­bridge, MA: MIT Press, 1981), 133.
8 Reyn­er Ban­ham, The­ory and Design in the First Ma­chine Age (Lon­don: Ar­chi­tec­tur­al Press, 1960).
9 Jean-Ni­co­las-Louis Du­rand, Re­cueil et pa­ral­lèle des édi­fices de tout genre an­ciens et mo­dernes, re­mar­quables par leur beau­té, par leur gran­deur ou par leur sin­gu­la­ri­té, et des­si­nés sur une même échelle (Pa­ris: De l’im­pri­me­rie de Gille fils, 1801).
10 Gott­fried Sem­per, Der Stil in den tech­ni­schen und tek­to­ni­schen Küns­ten oder prak­ti­sche Äs­the­tik: ein Hand­buch für Tech­ni­ker, Künst­ler und Kunst­freun­de (Band 2): Ke­ra­mik, Tek­to­nik, Ste­reo­to­mie, Me­tal­lo­tech­nik für sich be­trach­tet und in Be­zie­hung zur Bau­kunst (Mün­chen: Fried­rich Bruck­manns Ver­lag, 1863).
11 J. Gaud­et, Élé­ments et théo­rie de l’ar­chi­tec­ture, cours pro­fes­sé à l’école na­tio­nale et spé­cial des beauxarts (Pa­ris: Li­braire de la construc­tion mo­dern, 1900).
12 Се­лим О. Хан-Ма­го­ме­дов, М.Я. Гин­з­бург (Моск­ва: Стро­из­дат, 1972).
13 М.Я. Гин­з­бург. Стиль и эпо­ха. Про­бле­мы со­вре­мен­ной ар­хи­тек­ту­ры. (Моск­ва: Го­сиз­дат, 1924); Eng­lish trans­la­tion, Moi­sei Gin­zburg, Style and Epoch, trans. Anatole Sen­kevitch, in­tr. Ken­neth Framp­ton (Cam­bridge, MA, and Lon­don: MIT Press, 1982). See also М.Я. Гин­з­бург, «Но­вые ме­то­ды ар­хи­тек­тур­но­го мыш­ле­ния», Со­вре­мен­ная ар­хи­тек­ту­ра 1 (1926): 1-4; М.Я. Гин­з­бург, «Меж­ду­на­род­ный фронт со­вре­мен­ной ар­хи­тек­ту­ры». Со­вре­мен­ная ар­хи­тек­ту­ра 2 (1926): 41-46; М.Я. Гин­з­бург, В.А. Вес­нин, и А.А. Вес­нин. «Твор­чес­кая три­бу­на. Про­бле­мы со­вре­мен­ной ар­хи­тек­ту­ры». Ар­хи­тек­ту­ра СССР 2 (1934): 63-69.
14 Гин­з­бург, Стиль и эпо­ха, 24.
15 A. [Ant­oine-Chrysostóme] Quatremère de Quincy, Encyclopédie méthodique, tome 3, Ar­chi­tec­ture (Par­is: Agasse, 1825).
16 Гин­з­бург, Стиль и эпо­ха, 79.
17 Idem.
18 Ibid, 79-80.
19 Ibid, 80.
20 Idem.
21 Ibid, 134.
22 Гин­з­бург, «Но­вые ме­то­ды ар­хи­тек­тур­но­го мыш­ле­ния», 2.
23 Гин­з­бург, Вес­нин, и Вес­нин, «Твор­чес­кая три­бу­на. Про­бле­мы со­вре­мен­ной ар­хи­тек­ту­ры», 66.
24 Гин­з­бург, «Но­вые ме­то­ды ар­хи­тек­тур­но­го мыш­ле­ния», 2.
25 Ibid.
26 Гинзбург, Стиль и эпоха, 145.
27 Гин­з­бург, Вес­нин, и Вес­нин, «Твор­чес­кая три­бу­на. Про­бле­мы со­вре­мен­ной ар­хи­тек­ту­ры», 67.
28 Ibid.
29 Ban­ham, The­ory and Design, 104.
30 Гинзбург, Стиль и эпоха, 89.

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