Lecture by Alla Vronskaya

Lecture by Alla Vronskaya

e-flux Architecture

Ivan Leonidov, Competition project for Magnitogorsk (Soviet Union), 1930.

February 27, 2024
“Modernism on the Frontier: Architecture and Regional Planning in the Interwar Soviet Union”
March 5, 2024, 7pm
172 Classon Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205

e-flux Architecture presents “Modernism on the Frontier: Architecture and Regional Planning in the Interwar Soviet Union,” a lecture by Alla Vronskaya at e-flux on Tuesday, March 5 at 7pm.

This lecture will examine the interrelated development of regional planning, architecture, and geography in the interwar Soviet Union. It will focus on the transition from evolutionist human geography, which viewed architecture as society’s adaptational mechanism, to economic geography, which instead turned to such questions as location of industrial production and the distribution of the workforce. Unlike its Western analogs, Soviet economic geography, which emerged at the moment of forced industrialization, was not analytical but projective: guided by Nikolay Baransky, it aspired to not only analyze but to design economic connections. Urban and regional planning responded to this transition. As the lecture will argue, the now-well-known debate about the socialist settlement, which ignited in 1929–30, was inspired by this transition, as architects struggled to reconcile the familiar ways of typification with the new economic demands. Situating this debate in its intellectual context, the lecture will examine the entanglement between extractive industrialism, centralized planning, geographic knowledge, and architecture at this moment, focusing on such concepts as the regional plan, the combine, the linear city and the settlement type, developed by Mikhail Okhitovich, Moisei Ginzburg, Ivan Leonidov, and others. A short-lived episode in geography, Baransky’s approach proved to have long-lasting effects for architecture and urbanism, informing later, Cold-War urban planning in the Soviet Union and beyond.

“Modernism on the Frontier: Architecture and Regional Planning in the Interwar Soviet Union” is presented as part of e-flux Architecture Lectures, a monthly series inviting researchers and practitioners to discuss timely issues in contemporary architecture, theory, culture, and technology.

Alla Vronskaya is a historian of modern architecture with the focus on its theoretical context, particularly in relationship to science and other spheres of intellectual culture. Her book, Architecture of Life: Soviet Modernism and the Human Sciences (University of Minnesota Press in August 2022), explores intersections between architecture, labor management, and human sciences in interwar Russia. Her new research project examines how Soviet architecture responded to the geographic and climatic diversity of the country by tracing the development of, and debates about, the concept of regionalization between its emergence in late-imperial Russia and its demise with the collapse of the Soviet Union. It demonstrates the role of regionalization, and with it, of geographical sciences, in the development of Soviet urbanism and Soviet approaches to standardization during both the interwar and the Cold War period. Vronskaya received her PhD in the History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art from MIT in 2014. She taught at ETH Zurich, Illinois Institute of Technology, and is currently professor of history and theory of architecture at the University of Kassel in Germany. She was a recipient of residential fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Getty Research Institute, and the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, among other awards, and is Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC during the 2023/2024 academic year.

For more information, contact program [​at​] e-flux.com.

–Two flights of stairs lead up to the building’s front entrance at 172 Classon Avenue.         
–For elevator access, please RSVP to program [​at​] e-flux.com. The building has a freight elevator which leads into the e-flux office space. Entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space.                  
–e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the event space and this bathroom.

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e-flux Architecture
February 27, 2024

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