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Article

Catherine Cooke

(Osipovich)

(b Moscow, Jan 29, 1904; d Moscow, Nov 8, 1976).

Russian architect and teacher . He studied (1920–26) in the Vkhutemas, Moscow, and joined the Constructivist group OSA. His joint diploma project with M. I. Sinyavsky (1895–1979) for a vast administrative and market complex was formally and structurally bold, and its widespread publication brought him to public attention. Barshch’s first notable building was the Moscow Planetarium (1928; with Sinyavsky), the result of a competition. Conceived as an anti-religious ‘theatre of science’ in central Moscow, it established the architects in the canon of international Modernism. Thereafter Barshch worked in Moisey Ginzburg’s housing research team for the Construction Committee (Stroikom) of the Russian Republic. He also collaborated on an uncompromisingly bold communal housing complex for a thousand people (1929; with V. Vladimirov; 1898–1942) and a low-density design (1929) for the new city of Magnitogorsk, with the ‘disurbanist’ ideologue M. A. Okhitovich (1896–1937), which crowned an early career at the centre of the innovative avant-garde. In the 1930s Barshch worked under the classicist ...

Article

Bauhaus  

Rainer K. Wick

[Bauhaus Berlin; Bauhaus Dessau, Hochschule für Gestaltung; Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar]

German school of art, design and architecture, founded by Walter Gropius. It was active in Weimar from 1919 to 1925, in Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and in Berlin from 1932 to 1933, when it was closed down by the Nazi authorities. The Bauhaus’s name referred to the medieval Bauhütten or masons’ lodges. The school re-established workshop training, as opposed to impractical academic studio education. Its contribution to the development of Functionalism in architecture was widely influential. It exemplified the contemporary desire to form unified academies incorporating art colleges, colleges of arts and crafts and schools of architecture, thus promoting a closer cooperation between the practice of ‘fine’ and ‘applied’ art and architecture. The origins of the school lay in attempts in the 19th and early 20th centuries to re-establish the bond between artistic creativity and manufacturing that had been broken by the Industrial Revolution. According to Walter Gropius in ...

Article

Hans Frei

(b Winterthur, Dec 22, 1908; d Zurich, Dec 9, 1994).

Swiss architect, sculptor, painter, industrial designer, graphic designer and writer. He attended silversmithing classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich from 1924 to 1927. Then, inspired by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925), Paris, by the works of Le Corbusier and by a competition entry (1927) for the Palace of the League of Nations, Geneva, by Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer (1894–1952), he decided to become an architect and enrolled in the Bauhaus, Dessau, in 1927. He studied there for two years as a pupil of Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky, mainly in the field of ‘free art’. In 1929 he returned to Zurich. After working on graphic designs for the few modern buildings being constructed, he built his first work, his own house and studio (1932–3) in Zurich-Höngg; although this adheres to the principles of the new architecture, it retains echoes of the traditional, for example in the gently sloping saddle roof....

Article

Anna Rowland

(Lajos)

(b Pécs, May 21, 1902; d New York, July 1, 1981).

American furniture designer and architect of Hungarian birth. In 1920 he took up a scholarship at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna, but he left almost immediately to find a job in an architect’s office. A few weeks later he enrolled at the Bauhaus at Weimar on the recommendation of the Hungarian architect Fred Forbat (1897–1972). Breuer soon became an outstanding student in the carpentry workshop, which he led in its endeavours to find radically innovative forms for modern furniture. In practice, this meant rejecting traditional forms, which were considered symbolic of bourgeois life. The results of these experiments were initially as idiosyncratic as those of other workshops at Weimar, including the adoption of non-Western forms, for example the African chair (1921; see Rowland, 1990, p. 66) and an aggressively castellated style inspired by Constructivism.

Breuer was impressed by De Stijl, whose founder Theo van Doesburg made his presence felt in Weimar in ...

Article

Radomíra Sedláková

Term used to describe a style in architecture and the applied arts, directly inspired by Cubist painting and sculpture, which was developed by architects and designers active in Prague shortly before World War I; the term itself was not used until the 1960s. The leaders of the style were the members of the Group of Plastic Artists (1911–14), which broke away from the Mánes Union of Artists in 1911 and for two years published its own journal, Umělecký měsíčník (‘Art monthly’). The architects in the group were Josef Gočár, Josef Chochol, Vlastislav Hofman (1884–1964) and Pavel Janák; other members included Emil Filla, Václav Špála, Antonín Procházka and Otto Gutfreund. The group was reacting against the austere rationalism of such architects as Jan Kotěra, seeking instead to sustain architecture and the applied arts as branches of art rich in content. Their approach was expounded in various articles, particularly by Janák, who developed the principles of architectural Cubism; based on the thesis of Cubism in painting and sculpture, that art should create a distinctive, parallel picture of reality, it attempted to dematerialize a building’s mass by the three-dimensional surface sculpturing of the façade with abstract, prismatic forms....

Article

Allan Doig

(b Utrecht, Aug 30, 1883; d Davos, Switzerland, March 7, 1931).

Dutch painter, architect, designer and writer. He was officially registered as the son of Wilhelm Küpper and Henrietta Catharina Margadant, but he was so convinced that his mother’s second husband, Theodorus Doesburg, was his father that he took his name. Little is known of his early life, but he began painting naturalistic subjects c. 1899. In 1903 he began his military service, and around the same time he met his first wife, Agnita Feis, a Theosophist and poet. Between about 1908 and 1910, much influenced by the work of Honoré Daumier, he produced caricatures, some of which were later published in his first book De maskers af! (1916). Also during this period he painted some Impressionist-inspired landscapes and portraits in the manner of George Hendrik Breitner. Between 1914 and 1915 the influence of Kandinsky became clear in such drawings as Streetmusic I and Streetmusic II (The Hague, Rijksdienst Beeld. Kst) and other abstract works....

Article

Catherine Cooke

(Yakovlevich)

(b Minsk, May 23, 1892; d Moscow, Jan 7, 1946).

Belarusian architect, urban planner, theorist and teacher. His age and background prepared him ideally for a central position among the architects who led the Modernist avant-garde in the USSR in the 1920s. He is best known for his leadership, with Aleksandr Vesnin, of the Constructivist architectural group from 1925 to 1931, but he was a consistently influential figure in Soviet architecture from the early 1920s until his premature death after World War II. Ginzburg insisted on constant re-evaluation and innovation in three key dimensions: architecture must tackle new social tasks; it must create new ‘spatial organisms’ to facilitate, reflect and catalyze those tasks; and it must harness the new technologies of mass production and the new building materials to achieve fulfilment of those tasks. A new ‘style’ would be the aesthetic correlate and result of these innovations.

The son of an architect in Minsk, with limited access as a Jew to higher education in Russia, Ginzburg attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the Ecole d’Architecture in Toulouse before joining the studio of ...

Article

Gilbert Herbert

(Adolf Georg)

(b Berlin, May 18, 1883; d Boston, MA, July 5, 1969).

American architect, industrial designer and teacher of German birth. He was one of the most influential figures in the development of the Modern Movement, whose contribution lay as much in his work as theoretician and teacher as it did in his innovative architecture. The important buildings and projects in Gropius’s career—the early factories, the Bauhaus complex at Dessau (1925–6), the Totaltheater project for Berlin, the housing estates and prefabricated dwellings—were all more than immediate answers to specific problems. Rather, they were a series of researches in which he sought prototypical solutions that would offer universal applicability. They were also didactic in purpose—concrete demonstrations, manifestos, of his theories and beliefs. His theories sought to integrate the individual and society, art and industry, form and function and the part with the whole. He left Germany for England in 1934; three years later he emigrated to the USA, where he continued to teach, write and design for the rest of his life....

Article

(b Jičin, Feb 6, 1884; d 1964).

Czech designer. He was involved in developing the Cubist-influenced design and architectural style known as Czech Cubism, created in Prague shortly before World War I. He was a member of the Group of Plastic Artists (founded 1911), who created modern furniture, Cubist ceramics and such objects as candlesticks and ashtrays in non-ferrous metals....

Article

Inkhuk  

John E. Bowlt

[Institut Khudozhestvennoy Kultury; Rus.: ‘Institute of Artistic Culture’]

Soviet institute for research in the arts that flourished from 1920 to 1926. Inkhuk was a dominant force in the development of Soviet art, architecture and design in the 1920s. Founded in Moscow in May 1920, with affiliations in Petrograd (now St Petersburg) and Vitebsk, it attracted many members of the avant-garde, especially Lyubov’ Popova and Aleksandr Rodchenko; its key administrative positions were occupied by Vasily Kandinsky (Moscow), Vladimir Tatlin (Petrograd) and Kazimir Malevich (Vitebsk). At one time Inkhuk maintained contact with Berlin (through El Lissitzky and the journal Veshch’/Gegenstand/Objet), the Netherlands, Hungary and Japan, although it never really had the chance to develop these international connections. One of the principal aims of Inkhuk was to reduce the modern movements such as Suprematism and Tatlin’s concept of the ‘culture of materials’ (see Tatlin, Vladimir) to a scientifically based programme that could be used for educational and research purposes—a development analogous to the initial endeavours of the Russian Formalist school of literary criticism, which attempted to analyse literature in terms of formal structures. In its aspiration to elaborate a rational basis for artistic practice, Inkhuk encouraged discussions on specific issues of artistic content and form, such as the debate on ‘composition versus construction’ in ...

Article

Hiroshi Kashiwagi

(b Niigata, April 6, 1915; d 1997).

Japanese graphic designer. He studied principles of Constructivism at the Institute of New Architecture and Industrial Arts, Tokyo, a private institute established and run by Renshichiro Kawakita with the aim of introducing Bauhaus design theories in Japan; he graduated in 1935 and in 1938 joined the Nippon Kōbō design studio (now Publishing on Design Inc.). For over a decade from 1937 he worked as art director on a number of Japanese magazines, including Nippon and Commerce Japan. In 1951 he participated in the establishment of the Japan Advertising Arts Club, which secured social recognition for the profession of graphic designer. In 1955 he took part in the ‘Graphic ’55’ exhibition, together with Hiromu Hara, Paul Rand and others. Kamekura received an award from the Japan Advertising Arts Club in 1956 for a poster calling for peaceful use of atomic power. He co-founded the Nippon Design Centre (Tokyo) in 1960 with ...

Article

Vladimír Šlapeta

(b Hundsheim, Austria, July 25, 1895; d London, Oct 5, 1949).

Czech architect and teacher of Austrian birth. He studied architecture (1917–21) under Jan Kotěra at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague. Together with Karel Teige, Krejcar was one of the main organizers of Devětsil, the group of avant-garde artists, architects and writers active in the 1920s and 1930s, and he edited Život II (‘Life II’, 1922), the publication in which the ideas of Purism and Constructivism were first introduced to Czechoslovakia. He was also a member of the Left Front, the Mánes Union of Artists and a delegate of the Czechoslovak branch of CIAM. Krejcar’s architectural work was based on a clearly defined Constructivist modular approach; for each building he found a formal expression in accordance with the relevant function, with all details fully worked out. The poetic purity of his work, inspired by modern industrial civilization and technology, is particularly apparent in two of his buildings: the Machnáč Sanatorium (...

Article

Olgierd Czerner

Polish architectural partnership formed in 1926 by Bohdan Lachert (b Moscow, 13 June 1900; d Warsaw, 8 Jan 1987) and Józef Szanajca (b Lublin, 17 March 1902; d Płazów, 24 Sept 1939). Lachert studied in the Department of Architecture, Technical University of Warsaw (1919–26). Szanajca graduated from the same institution and worked there as assistant from 1929 until his death. They became friends in 1922 and prepared their first joint project in 1924; in 1926 they became members of the avant-garde Praesens group and were later in contact with CIAM. They were supporters of radical Functionalism and the introduction of new materials like glass and steel. At the same time they designed some small, standardized houses (1926) at Klementynów, near Warsaw, which were cubist in shape and constructed from a combination of prefabricated components and traditional timber. The partnership of Lachert and Szanajca was prolific; between ...

Article

Catherine Cooke

(Aleksandrovich)

(b Moscow, Jan 3, 1881; d Dec 7, 1941).

Russian theorist, architect, urban planner and teacher. His principal contribution to Soviet architecture was the creation of the theoretical basis of Rationalism, which (with Constructivism) formed one of the two main Modernist movements in early Soviet architecture and urbanism. As a leading figure in the creation and organization of the Basic Course at the Vkhutemas, Moscow, through which all new students passed, Ladovsky was a particularly influential figure in the Russian avant-garde during the 1920s.

After several years working in architectural offices, Ladovsky entered the College of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Moscow, relatively late, in 1914, and he was already 36 when he graduated in 1917. In the first small exploratory groups and institutes that formed thereafter, he emerged as a leading innovator. The programme of the Zhivskul’ptarkh group (1919–20), which sought a new common ground between painting, sculpture and architecture, conformed precisely to his vision. Ladovsky’s projects with this group already demonstrate the secondary role given to construction, which remained a tenet of his more fully elaborated theory. In the ...

Article

John Milner

[Lisitsky, El’ ; Lisitsky, Lazar’ (Markovich )]

(b Pochinok, Smolensk province, Nov 23, 1890; d Moscow, Dec 30, 1941).

Russian draughtsman, architect, printmaker, painter, illustrator, designer, photographer, teacher, and theorist.

After attending school in Smolensk, he enrolled in 1909 at the Technische Hochschule, Darmstadt, to study architecture and engineering. He also travelled extensively in Europe, however, and he made a tour of Italy to study art and architecture. He frequently made drawings of the architectural monuments he encountered on his travels. These early graphic works were executed in a restrained, decorative style reminiscent of Russian Art Nouveau book illustration. His drawings of Vitebsk and Smolensk (1910; Eindhoven, Stedel. Van Abbemus.), for example, show a professional interest in recording specific architectural structures and motifs, but they are simultaneously decorative graphic works in their own right and highly suitable for publication. This innate awareness of the importance of controlling the design of the page was to remain a feature of Lissitzky’s work throughout radical stylistic transformations. He also recorded buildings in Ravenna, Venice, and elsewhere in Italy in ...

Article

Michael Spens

(b Manchester, Aug 17, 1908; d July 28, 2000).

English architect, theorist and teacher. After graduating from the School of Architecture, University of Manchester, in 1930, he joined the teaching staff there until becoming Head of the School of Architecture, Hull, from 1934 to 1939.

In 1933 he set up in private practice, subsequently designing the nursery school (1937–8), Northwich, and the Morton House (1937–9), Brampton, which were tentative examples of Modern Movement architecture in England. In 1935 he married the architect Sadie Speight, who became a lifelong collaborator. In 1937 he was co-editor, with Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo, of Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art, which attempted to define common preoccupations of Constructivist painters, sculptors and architects on a European scale. In 1939 his work entered a new phase when he was engaged by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, and from 1949 to 1956 he worked for the London County Council (LCC). With the LCC he led the design team working under ...

Article

Benjamin Flowers

[Thom]

(b Waterbury, CT, Jan 19, 1944).

American architect and educator. Mayne trained at the University of Southern California (BA 1968) and Harvard (MArch 1978) and his work is influenced by the twin traditions of Russian Constructivism and Postmodern deconstruction. Many of his buildings grapple with both questions of form (in particular its relation to program) and the shifting nature of materials. He, along with Frank O(wen) Gehry, is among the best known of a generation of West Coast architects to emerge from the turbulent social and cultural milieu of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

As a young boy Mayne moved with his mother to Whittier, CA, where he was, by his own account, something of a loner and a misfit. Mayne matriculated at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, but soon transferred to the University of Southern California whose faculty at the time included Craig Ellwood, Gregory Ain and Ralph Knowles. After completing his bachelor of architecture in ...

Article

OSA  

K. Paul Zygas

[Ob’edineniye Sovremennikh Arkhitektorov; Rus.: Union of Contemporary Architects]

Soviet architectural group, active in Moscow from 1925 to 1930. It was founded by Moisey Ginzburg and Aleksandr Vesnin (see Vesnin family) and it attracted many of Moscow’s Modernist architects by arguing for architecture’s pivotal role in creating the new Soviet society. OSA’s activities passed through several distinct phases in response to changing political circumstances and engaged the public on several fronts: these included an exhibition of contemporary architecture in 1927; architectural conferences in 1928 and 1929; and the bi-monthly journal Sovremennaya arkhitektura, which appeared from 1926 to 1930. Disavowing aesthetic and formal considerations, OSA made functional and technical matters pre-eminent. Starting with general reflections about the USSR, OSA architects then analysed the State’s building requirements in terms of cost, user profile and building types. The group endorsed a view of architecture as an integral part of the State apparatus, with a role in transforming society, for example by evolving new building types, such as the Workers’ Club, and with responsibilities, for example in containing costs by adopting prefabrication methods. Their approach to design was disciplined, with the design process itself being reduced to four distinct phases: the building programme’s spatial organization and technical requirements; the volumetric implications of these factors; their physical implementation; and the consolidation of the previous three steps into architectural coherence and unity. This rigorous design method helped OSA to forge its own identity and to create a legacy of designs challenging the best work of other European and Soviet avant-garde groups. The most characteristic designs by architects associated with the group include: the ...

Article

Ewa Mikina

Polish group of artists and architects, active in Warsaw in 1926–39. Its members included the painters and sculptors J. Golus, Katarzyna Kobro, K. Kryński, Maria Nicz-Borowiak (1896–1944), Kazimierz Podsadecki (1904–70), Andrzej Pronaszko (1888–1961), Zbigniew Pronaszko, Henryk Stażewski, Władysław Strzemiński and Romuald Kamil Witkowski (1876–1950), and the architects Stanisław Brukalski (b 1894), B. Elkonnen, Bohdan Lachert, J. Malinowski, Szymon Syrkus and Józef Szanajca. Following the dissolution of the Block group almost all its members, with the exception of Miecysław Szczuka and Teresa Żarnower (d after 1945), whose strongly held political views had precipitated the break-up, joined Praesens. The group arose from an initiative on the part of Syrkus. Although invariably associated with the history of Polish Constructivism, the group was perceived by the artists, calling themselves ‘modernists’, as having a somewhat different orientation from that of Block. Although more prolific in terms of the range and number of exhibitions, Praesens was never as intensively active as the short-lived Block group....

Article

Purism  

Judi Freeman and John Musgrove

French movement in painting and architecture. Purism was an aesthetic programme initiated c. 1918 by Amédée Ozenfant and Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (known as Le Corbusier in his architectural work after 1920–21) as a reaction to Cubist painting and ideas that dominated avant-garde art in France before World War I. Above all, Purist philosophy is characterized by an admiration for the beauty and purity of the form of the machine. Ozenfant and Le Corbusier advocated a rappel à l’ordre in response to what they perceived to be the distortions and excesses of later, particularly Synthetic Cubism. While they embraced much Cubist subject-matter, particularly the celebration of the ordinary, mass-produced object, they emphasized the geometry, simplicity, proportion and harmony of those objects, rather than their dissection or analysis; see Purist Still-life, 1921. The Purists perceived the golden section to be an ideal governing rule in the depiction of form. They preferred that form be presented with unbroken contours and smoothly polished surfaces....