Paul Nelson, Robert Pontabry et Anatole Kopp à l'inauguration de l'exposition des techniques américaines, Grand Palais, 14 juin 1946a

Foreign architects in the Soviet Union during the first two five-year plans

by Anatole Kopp

Image: Paul Nelson, Robert Pontabry et Anatole Kopp
à l’inauguration de l’exposition des techniques
américaines, Grand Palais, 14 juin 1946

Reproduced below, sans footnotes, is the French-Russian architectural historian Anatole Kopp’s late article on “Foreign architects in the Soviet Union during the first two five-year plans,” from 1988. As things stand, it’s probably the most thorough account of international specialists’ activities in the USSR. In a post that’ll soon follow, I’ll go over Kopp’s career and outlook, his strengths and shortcomings, his collaborations and disagreements with peers such as Henri Lefebvre. His earlier work was stronger, and more influential, but this article is valuable if for no other reason than its comprehensiveness. That said, it does leave out mention of a few noteworthy figures, such as Hinnerk Scheper and Johan Niegeman. I’ve included some images of them, even though he neglects to mention them.

Soviet architecture of the 1920s — avant-garde architecture — was largely unresearched in the West until the mid-1960s. Since then, in Europe, in the United States, and also progressively in the Soviet Union, various studies have been devoted to this subject. What has remained largely unexamined, however, is the activity of a large number of foreign technicians who went to work in the USSR beginning in 1928. Their participation in various construction projects and in the development of Soviet architecture is the subject of this essay. Continue reading

Moisei Ginzburg’s “The international front of modern architecture”

Translated from the Russian 

Image: Photograph of Moisei Ginzburg,
editor of Modern Architecture (1927)


[From Modern Architecture (1926) № 2]

[Pg. 41]

If one takes a cursory glance at everything that is now taking place in the architectural life of all countries, the first impression will be this: the world is split into two halves. In one of them, eclecticism still reigns — having lost any point of departure, having exhausted itself through and through — perfectly symbolizing the deteriorating culture of old Europe. In the other [half] young, healthy shoots push themselves through — landmarks, the beginnings of a new life start to emerge, from which it is not difficult to extend the single, unified thread of an international front of modern architecture. Despite all the differences and peculiarities of different countries and peoples, this front really exists. The results of the revolutionary pursuits of the modern architectural avant-gardes of all nations intersect with one another closely in their main lines of development. They are forging a new international language of architecture, intelligible and familiar, despite the boundary posts and barriers.

But it is worth examining this picture a little closer, as it now becomes evident that within the overall stream [of modern architecture] merge various currents.  The path of the creative pursuit in different countries and among different peoples is not quite the same. For along with the general similarity there also exist differences — differences not only in the formal expression of this language, but also in the basic principles that inform it. Continue reading

Lev Rudnev’s “City of the Future” (1925), before his turn to Stalinist neo-Classicism

Modernist architecture archive

IMAGE: Lev Rudnev’s City of the future (1925),
before his turn to Stalinist neoclassicism


An update on the Modernist Architecture Archive/Database I discussed a couple posts ago.  I’ve begun work on it, and have uploaded almost half of the documents I intend to include.  Only a few of the Russian ones are up yet, but I’m hoping to post them over the next couple days.  There are many more on the way.

Anyway, anyone interested in taking a look at this archive (arranged as a continuous text) can access it here.

However, this might not be the most convenient way to browse through it all.  For a more manageable overall view of each of the individual articles (detailing the author, title, and year of publication), click here.