Yuri Avvakumov: The Club City | Jelena Prokopljević

In the 80s a group of young bulging architects of the school of architecture of Moscow (MArhkI) formed a part of the theoretical and Utopian movement called architecture of paper. More acquaintances between them were: Mikhail Belov, Alexander Brodsky, Ilya Utkin, Mikhail Flippov, Nadia Bronzova and Yuri Avvakumov. Architecture of paper, or architects of paper it was a pejorative name, an auto parodies and a protest: the group was making projects not requested, impossible to realize and opposite to the official directives of the architectural production. Architecture of paper, or architects of paper it was a pejorative name, an auto parodies and a protest: the group was making projects not requested, impossible to realize and opposite to the official directives of the architectural production. Historically the term architecture of paper was coined in the 20s to designate – negatively – all those projects that by his form or Utopian content were removed from his time, ideology and economy and that therefore were not contributing anything to the construction of the socialism. In the 80s, after the Stalinist returns and khruschevistas, the architecture of paper was meaning the recollection or the reintepretation of the Russian and, constructivismo at the same time, the flight of the impersonal, modular, formless and cheap spaces of the Soviet city produced after the reforms simplificadoras of Kruschev. The architects of the architecture of paper are children of the stagnancy especially economic and politics before the Perestroika, which reflections in architecture, though hidden well in the big state projects, they were receiving presence in everything recounted to the residential zone or to the public not representative space. Definitively, in the construction of the city and definition and maintenance of the public urban space.

The young architects were presenting massively to the contests of ideas organized by the magazines Japan Architect and A+U, sending between 1981 and 1984 hundreds of offers a year. This productivity was kept, though diminishing, until 1988 and produced more than 50 prizes. According to Mikhail Belov,

“What was doing these different offers of similar works of the west, is undoubtedly the same as it distinguishes to the Soviet rock of the western rock: the tension, the aspiration to expressing up to the end, the search for the perfect harmony and an elementary comfort.”

His offer for the contest of ideas of A+U of qualified 1984 The style for the year 2001” was describing very graphically the references which were possessing the young architects, whose conceptual contraposition was coming personified in a Stalin and a Modulor. A tower similar to the University Lomonosov opposed to an anonymous tower of crystal, an arch and columns with reliefs that frivolizan the habitual iconography of the socialist realism, stars of five tops, frame the meeting of two prominent figures and illustrate the intensity of that theoretical heritage that was seeking to express, since it was aiming At Belov.

M. Belov entrada para el concurso de A+U “A Style for the Year 2001”, 1984.
M. Belov entry for the contest of A+U “A Style for the Year 2001”, 1984.

The same contest was gained by another “architect of paper”, 27-year-old Yuri Avvakumov, teacher at the time in the MArhkI newly qualified. The project that he presented was titling City – club, a reflection on the neighborhood where it was living, the apples about the street Nagornaya of Moscow, a microrayon (mike district) of approximately 30.000 inhabitants. Formed in the 60s, in the first stage of the boom of the khruschovki – prefabricated buildings of relatively low quality – of between 5 and 10 plants and one repetitive and impersonal aspecto. Since problem identifies the formless, typical planning of the neighborhoods – bedrooms with the public space treated as a rest of the construction, functionally indefinite and without favoring the interhuman relation. A problem appellant and without resolving, exempting the palliative ones that the company of consumption has contributed, in the socialist cities of the whole Europe.

The concept of the project extends the idea of club, a closed, space interior and intimate, destined for a limited group, for the city and opposes it to the planning masificada and impersonal of the socialist city. The club, or better, the working club was the whole myth of the ultramodern Soviet architecture: social condenser, workshop and scene of the transformation of the man, base of the communist company. In 1984, the ideal ones of the new Soviet man created they were already obsolete and the reminiscence to the working club had an ironic air.

Y. Avvakumov y Estudio de estudiantes de MARKhI Ciudad-Club 1984. Detalles plaza, carril, patio, bulevar, calle, parque
Y. Avvakumov and Students’ study of MARKhI City-Club 1984. Details square, rail, court, boulevard, street, park.

The project has two slopes: first, of identifying the urban typical spaces, to provide them with a comfort adapted for a modern urbanita. I come second, of the adaptable structures develop in these spaces to the uses that the inhabitants want to assign them. The project shows different options of how to create the network of environments that can appear and to develop independently, but nevertheless, to form a stylistic and formal unit. Avvakumov believes “urban interiors”: square, rail, court, boulevard, street, park. It provides them with basic seemingly ephemeral, modular, prefabricated and highly adaptable structures; it places them in the soil and in the buildings in order that the new clubs could integrate to the whole space.

The project of Club City never appeared seriously to incorporate it in the town planning of Moscow, not only as concept to studying and adapting. Nevertheless to Yuri Avvakumov it brought certain professional prestige. In 1984 in the Museum Mayakovsky of Moscow an exhibition was organized where, next to the historical works, the organizers included a small section of the contemporary works, seguidoras of the modernism. The Project of City Club that just had gained the contest in Japan was included, but from three days of the inauguration he had to be withdrawn for not having spent the military censorship. Nevertheless, Boris Yeltsin, high civil servant at the time of the PCUS of Moscow, him liked the project and praised it publicly. It was not the project, but yes this mention that to Avvakumov cost the entry in the Union of the Architects of the USSR.

The concept of intermediate structures thought for the street Nagornaya had his western parallel bars in the work of Bernard Tschumi or of the Born group. Yuri Avvakumov turned it to developing together with Yuri Kuzin in the project of Leonidovsk (1987), where there implemented a series of intermediate elements between the volumes and in the public space of the famous scheme constructivista that Ivan Leonidov I present in 1930 in the contest for the new socialist city of Magnitogorsk.

“The architecture of the urban desert is contemporary … as errant acrobats, appearing from no part and going away nowhere, forklift truck, car – and constant repairable, poor proletarian before that well-off, absurd and of paper before that royal and finished. This one is the today reintepretation of the forefronts of 1920…”

Y. Avvakumov, 1984

Y.Avvakumov, Y. Kuzin Leonidovsk 1987.
Y.Avvakumov, Y. Kuzin Leonidovsk 1987.

Jelena Prokopljevic. PhD Architecture
Barcelona. march 2014


1 and 3 Nostalgia of Culture. Contemporary Soviet Visionary Architecture. The Architectural Association. London, 1988

2 and 4 Agit Arch

Jelena Prokopljević

Arquitecta e investigadora serbia, titulada por la Universidad de Belgrado, y residente en Barcelona, miembro del Comité de Expertos del Premio Europeo del Espacio Público Urbano desde la edición del 2014. Se doctoró en 2006 en la ETSAB, ciudad en la que reside y trabaja. Ha colaborado con la plataforma Eurasian Hub en proyectos de transformación urbana y ha sido responsable del área de arquitectura y urbanismo en la Casa del Este, organización radicada en Barcelona y dedicada a promover la cooperación con la Europa Central y Oriental. Entre sus publicaciones más destacadas, consta el libro Corea del Norte: Utopía de hormigón; arquitectura y urbanismo al servicio de una ideología (escrito con Roger Mateos, 2012) y el artículo «Espacio público en la ciudad socialista: entre la abundancia y la indefinición», publicado en URBS, revista de estudios urbanos y ciencias sociales. Además, suele impartir conferencias y participar en coloquios en lugares como la ETSAB, la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB), la fundación Amigos de la UNESCO de Barcelona o la Universidad Ion Mincu de Bucarest. Prokopljević es miembro del Comité de expertos del Premio Europeo del Espacio Público Urbano desde su edición de 2014.

follow me

Filed under: articles, Jelena Prokopljević

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,