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051-0235-16L  Theory of Architecture: Curating 1917 - The Architecture of Russian Revolution (a.i. Moravanszky)

SemesterAutumn Semester 2016
LecturersA. Vronskaya
Periodicityevery semester recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


AbstractIn the course of this seminar, we will collectively prepare the exhibition "The Architecture of Russian Revolution" (included in the "gta 50" exhibition series, to be open in February 2017).
ObjectiveTo commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Russian revolution (1917), this seminar examines the impact of the political revolution upon architectural education. We focus on teaching architecture at Moscow Higher Art and Technical Studios (VKhUTEMAS; 1920-1927), a school that rivaled the Bauhaus as one of the earliest and most important "avant-garde" pedagogical institutions. This experimental-format seminar will serve as a preparation for the exhibition "The Architecture of Russian Revolution," which will open in February 2017 a part of the series of exhibitions devoted to the 50th anniversary of the gta (Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture at ETHZ). The exhibition's particular focus will be on the importance of VKhUTEMAS legacy for architectural pedagogy (especially, at ETHZ) today. Collectively, we will develop the concept of the exhibition and make curatorial and installation decisions.
ContentThe Russian Revolution (1917) dramatically changed not only political system, but also the lifestyle and culture in the country,including approaches to architectural education. Student protests against old, academic system of education followed the revolution, leading to a creation, in 1920, of one of the earliest "avant-garde" architectural institutions, the Higher Art and Technical Studios (VKhUTEMAS) in Moscow.
Instead of the old practice of moving from drawing details to smaller buildings and finally finishing their education by designing a large building, the students now started by analyzing formal elements important for different arts: "Color" served an introduction to painting, "Volume"--to sculpture, "Space"--to architecture, and "Drawing" (that is, line) as an introduction to graphic design. The most developed of the introductory courses, Ladovskii's course "Space," analyzed three-dimensional reality as a combination of "elements of sensation": the basic physical, geometrical, and spatial properties of form, such as mass, volume, gravity, or dynamics. This course will be at a particular focus of our attention. We will approach it from a variety of contexts: the political situation in the aftermath of the Revolution; the changes in Russian culture and society; the developments in science (in particular, experimental psychology) and the new concept of the human that they entailed; the emergence of modernist approaches to architecture and its pedagogy; the challenges that these changes and developments posed for architectural education. As a result of our study, we will develop the concept of an exhibition on VKhUTEMAS and its importance for architectural pedagogy today.
Prerequisites / NoticeThis is not a lecture course. Attendance and active participation is required. There will be weekly mandatory reading and creative assignments (expect circa two hours per week of homework).
Enrollment limited to 20.