The brothers Golosov

Built and unbuilt works

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Image: Il’ia Golosov, competition entry
for the Leningrad Pravda office (1924)

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Note: Translation forthcoming of the lecture notes below! “New paths in architecture,” by Il’ia Golosov.

«Новые пути в архитектуре»

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Лекция, прочитанная И. А. Голосовым в 1922 г. в Московском архитектурном обществе. Приведены лишь отдельные выдержки из этой лекции, касающиеся построения архитектурной формы. ЦГАЛИ СССР, ф. 1979, оп. 1, д. 69. Полный текст ее опубликован в сб. Из истории советской прхитектуры (1917—1925 гг.). Документы и материалы, М., Изд-во Академии наук СССР, 1963, стр. 26—31.

(…] Почему все еще громадное большинство пережевывает жвачку повторения и комбинаций древних форм, имевших смысл в сооружениях древних, но совершенно не подходящих к новым сооружениям, и нам кажется несомненным, что новое вино надо влипать в новые мехи и что современная архитектура должна найти себя на пути правильного отражения идеи сооружения — его души.

Конечно, высказываемая мысль приложима не только к архитектурным сооружениям, но к любым созданиям человека. Возьмем, например, паровоз. В современном мощном красавце-паровозе, олицетворенном воплощении силы и как бы готового к прыжку стального зверя, от первоначальной его формы, похожей вполне на грубые игрушки, нет и следа. И, несомненно, художник имел бы право голоса наряду с техником в усовершенствовании и конструировании паровоза так, чтобы его внешняя форма, без ущерба для целей техники, олицетворяла и ярче выражала его идею, его душу.

И во всяком случае, украшение вещей не в духе их идей, не в духе их назначения является вандализмом.

Сооружения исключительно технического характера, например подъемные краны, доки и пр., нельзя себе представить в дружном сожительстве с чисто украсительными формами. В сооружениях Этого типа нет места бесполезной детали, здесь все сливается с основной идеей вещи и, я думаю, не может быть спора о том, что встречающиеся иногда в подобных сооружениях формы исключительно украсительного характера или вовсе не замечаются, или производят впечатление явной их ненужности и неуместности. Трудно себе представить, чтобы формы паровоза можно было усовершенствовать введением орнаментировки его частей, так же трудно представить автомобиль или аэроплан в стиле какой-либо эпохи. Отсюда ясно, что техника вырабатывает свои, индивидуальные, только ей присущие формы. Само собой разумеется, что здесь не может быть и речи о применении классических форм, ибо здесь живет форма исключительно как таковая, в художественном своем выражении логически совпадающая с целью самого явления, то есть самой вещи.

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Narkomtiazhporn: The pornographic proto-Stalinism of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry

Narkomtiazhprom + archiporn
Narkomtiazhprom + archiporn =
Narkomtiazhporn.

The competition for the design of the National Commissariat of Heavy Industry building [Наркомтяжпром] would be the last under Stalin to feature a number of submissions using modernist forms and techniques. Heavy industry is always sexy: scorched, hardened bodies covered in sweat, filth, and grime. Sparks spew all about, illuminating in flashes the piping and steel grating that surrounds. There’s no orgasm quite like the panting, hyperventilating surge toward climax one experiences while suffering from black lung. No sex like pneumoconiosic sex.

Already here, though, one can discern the contours of an emerging Stalinist sublime. This can be seen in the absurd scale onto which neoclassical forms have been projected. The contest for the Palace of the Soviets had been completed, to nearly universal disappointment within the modernist camp. There can be little doubt that the winning design from that whole affair weighed heavily on the minds of the modernists.

Like so many other architectural projects from the time, Narkomtiazhprom would never be built. Some have questioned whether it was really ever meant to be built at all, or if it was rather a ruse intended to unmask newly-unionized architects who were still harboring some loyalty to modernism.

Narkomtiazhporn

Leonidov’s Narkomtiazhprom [Наркомтяжпром Леонидова], 1934

Above: Ivan Leonidov

From explanatory notes to the Narkomtiazhprom competition

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Until now the architecture of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral have formed the architectural center of Moscow. It is natural that with the construction of a colossal new building on Red Square, the role of some buildings within the ensemble of this central Moscow complex will change.

I consider that the architecture of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral should be subordinated to the architecture of the Narkomtiazhprom [Commissariat of Heavy Industry], and that this building itself must occupy the central place in the city.

The architecture of Red Square and the Kremlin is a delicate and majestic piece of music. The introduction into this symphony of an instrument so strong in its sound and so huge in scale is permissible only on condition that the new instrument will lead the orchestra, and will excel over all the others in its architectural quality.

The foundations of the competition of the Narkomtiazhprom building must lie not in splendor, or in the florid trumpery of details and forms, but in simplicity, severity, harmonious dynamism, and pithiness of content. Historical motifs must be compositionally subordinated to this leading element, on the principle of aesthetic contrast.

In the project the high towers are the compositional center. Their forms are determined by both functional considerations and architectural ones, in which I include such factors as the need for a clear structure of composition, for a sense of movement, and for powerful spatiality and grandeur. The low parts of the building such as the auditorium, speakers’ tribunes, exhibition areas, and the rear building are related in heigh to the surrounding architecture, and this lower plan is assembled in a composition of lesser contrasts.

Three towers:

The first is rectangular in plan with a lightweight, openwork top, and its main elevation faces Red Square. The top is glazed with suspended terraces constructed of stainless steel.

The circular tower is conceived as a contrasting element to the first. In form and treatment it is picturesque, with balcony-like terraces on its exterior. Here the material is glazed brick, and the surface character of this unusual material is what makes it possible to achieve this integrity of form. The illumination inside the tower is diffused; visibility is resolved by the insertion of vertical windows of clear glass within the general pattern of the cladding. At night the tower will stand out with its light silhouette and barely-perceptible structural frame, and with the dark patches of the balconies.

The third tower has a complex spatial configuration on plan, while being simple and strong in elevation.

Red Square, as the focal space of the entire proletarian collective, must not cut itself off from access by this proletariat, and therefore the low parts of the building must be treated in such a way that they enter into the general idea of ideologically saturated movement in the Square.

This is achieved by placing spectator stands in the foreground.

The Square is divided into two terraces at different levels. This makes it possible to achieve new effects in military parades, such as putting the tanks onto one level and the cavalry on the other.

Even with the existing width of the Square, it is impossible to provide a good view of the Lenin Mausoleum from the GUM side, when it is used as a saluting base for Party leaders] during the parades and mach-pasts. Extension of the Square to a width of 200 meters will create even greater difficulties of visibility. But this terraced treatment of the Square will also provide good views of the Mausoleum.

The main accommodation in this project is distributed as follows:

The main foyer is located in the center of the building and illuminated from above. Entrances are provided from the new boulevard, and from Ilinka and Nikol’skaia Streets.

The polyclinic, kindergarten, creche, mechanized canteen, hotel, and library are located in the lower volume behind the spectator steps. Here too are all other forms of service accommodation.

All accommodation for the working operation of the Commissariat is located in the towers, which are interconnected by aerial walkways. The Workers’ Club faces towards Sverdlov Square, and is connected by a passageway with the main entrance foyer. The total built volume of the complex is 1,064,460 cubic meters.

Arkhitektura SSSR, 1934 № 10, pgs. 14-15

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