Voices from Russia

Thursday, 12 June 2008

1st Moscow Biennale of Architecture

Filed under: architecture,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

The Triumph Palace in Moscow, topped out in 2003, 264.1 metres (866 feet) in height, this 57-story building has 1,000 upscale apartments, it is similar in design to the Soviet-era “seven sisters”

The 1st Moscow Biennale of Architecture is currently running in the Russian capital (27 May to 22 June). Masters from 18 countries all over the world have presented their ideas and submitted their works to the Moscow show. What gave rise to the key topic of the Moscow Biennale, “How to live” was an unprecedented building boom throughout Russia and, of course, the national programme, “Affordable Dwellings”, which is currently being realised. The curator of the Russian pavilion, David Sarkisyan, said that much attention at the exhibition in Moscow is paid to architects and town planners who can come up with new ideas that would help solve the problem of mass production of dwelling units in Russia.

Mr Sarkisyan said that the Moscow Biennale is not dedicated to glamorous architecture; rather, it wishes to perpetuate the spirit of the large-scale social projects designed in Russia, he added. There is still much interest throughout the world in the Soviet social projects of the 1970s, when nation-wide experimentation in housing design was encouraged. At that time, it was first time in the world that anyone proposed the mass production of dwelling units, and it was done using innovative methods, Mr Sarkisyan claimed.

The Russian exposition entitled “New cities, New in the city”, presents construction projects underway in regions round Moscow and other big Russian cities. On display are also projects for the renovation of old city districts and former industrial zones. Russian architects make designs for vast territories, they use a comprehensive approach, bearing in mind both ecological concerns and meeting the needs of the population. The director of the Biennale, Vasili Bychkov, says that most of the designs are not just fantasy architectural renderings, but, they have already found customers. He said that various projects were attracted to the architectural forum so it could be more versatile. Another part of the forum was the “Architectural Moscow” exhibition, a tradition in Moscow, usually involving many foreign architectural and design bureaus. They also showcased projects consonant with the exhibition’s main theme.

Dutch architect Bart Goldhoorn, Curator of the Biennale, believes that European experience of public construction can be of use to Russia. The International Pavilion housed a model of Germany’s major project, public construction in the environs of Frankfort. Great Britain demonstrated a plan for the extension of the ancient trade city of Poundbury. The exposition also included projects planned for Copenhagen, Stockholm, Utrecht, and Helsinki.

The modern view of city planning is supplemented at the Biennale by a historical perspective. The exposition titled “Homes-communes. Another life” features masterpieces of Russian constructivism from the 1930s and it shows how ideas of optimal living space have transformed within one century.

10 June 2008

Tatiana Zavyalova

Voice of Russia World Service


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