Constructivist architecture  

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Constructivist architecture was a form of modern architecture that flourished in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and early 1930s. It combined advanced technology and engineering with an avowedly Communist social purpose. Although it was divided into several competing factions, the movement produced many pioneering projects and finished buildings, before falling out of favour around 1932. Its effects have been marked on later developments in architecture.

Constructivist buildings and other modernist projects in the former USSR


Due in part to its political commitment — and its replacement by Stalinist architecture — the mechanistic, dynamic forms of Constructivism were not part of the calm Platonism of the International Style as it was defined by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock. Their book included only one building from the USSR, an electrical laboratory by government team led by Nikolaev. During the 1960s Constructivism was rehabilitated to a certain extent, and both the wilder experimental buildings of the era (such as the Globus Theatre or the Tbilisi Roads Ministry Building) and the unornamented Khrushchyovka apartments are in a sense a continuation of the aborted experiment, although under very different conditions. Outside the USSR, Constructivism has often been seen as an alternative, more radical modernism, and its legacy can be seen in designers as diverse as Team 10, Archigram and Kenzo Tange, as well as in much Brutalist work. Their integration of the avant-garde and everyday life has parallels with the Situationists, particularly the New Babylon project of Guy Debord and Constant Nieuwenhuys.

High Tech architecture also owes a debt to Constructivism, most obviously in Richard RogersLloyd's building. Zaha Hadid's early projects were adaptations of Malevich's Architektons, and the influence of Chernikhov is clear on her drawings. Deconstructivism evokes the dynamism of Constructivism, though without the social aspect, as in the work of Coop Himmelb(l)au. In the late 1970s Rem Koolhaas wrote a parable on the political trajectory of Constructivism called The Story of the Pool, in which Constructivists escape from the USSR in a self-powering Modernist swimming pool, only to die, after being criticised for much the same reasons as they were under Stalinism, soon after their arrival in the USA. Meanwhile, many of the original Constructivist buildings are poorly preserved or in danger of imminent demolition.

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