VKHUTEMAS – Faculty of Architecture
At different times the deans of the faculty were representatives of different directions: supporter of the “academic” majority E. Norvert (1920–1922), associate of left-wing masters Rukhlyadev (1922–1923); and Rylsky (1923–1930), who managed to bring down the severity of contradictions between different groups.
MARKHI is the heir of VKHUTEMAS. In 1930, the VKHUTEMAS faculty of architecture became an independent educational institution – the Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering, from which links stretch to the Moscow Institute of Architecture.
At the same time, many other powerful schools inherited from the faculty of architecture of VKHUTEMAS, such as: Moscow Palace Architectural School; the architectural department of the School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, which existed until 1918 and the architectural department of the Second Free State Art Studios, which existed from 1918 to 1920.
I.Zholtovsky, A. Schusev, I. Rylsky, L. Vesnin, S Chernyshev and other prominent representatives of the academic architectural school are listed in the documents on the merger of the First and Second Free State Art Studios among the heads of the studios inherited by the faculty of architecture. It is enough to say that the oldest of them – Zholtovsky (born in 1867) and Shchusev (born in 1873) were the authors of a number of famous buildings awarded the title of academicians of architecture before the revolution. Starting to work in Soviet institutions, they headed the architectural and art department of the Council of People’s Commissars for Education and from the first years after October revolution enjoyed great public authority.
Along with the well-known architects of the older generations, Ladovsky, Dokuchaev, Krinsky, Golosov, Melnikov appeared among the heads of studios of the faculty of architecture in 1920. At the time these names were unknown to public, although it must be said that some masters, first of all Ladovsky, have already gained popularity among students, thanks to their original approach to a fundamental renovation of architecture. Ladovsky’s group was a “minority”, as it is officially called in documents related to the history of the faculty.
In the initial years, Ladovsky was unable to create an experimental laboratory – this became possible later. Only in 1926, however, all the activities of Ladovsky and his colleagues were imbued with the spirit of the experiment. In 1921, in the era of individual studios, they organized the Association of Studios (OBMAS) at the faculty of architecture, lead by three professors: Ladovsky, Dokuchaev, and Krinsky.
In November 1922, the Presidium of the faculty issued a decree “on the establishment of two departments: a) academic department, b) department of the newest research, which was the formalization of the already existing situation”.
The report of the faculty for 1924-1925 included a scheme of the faculty with the appropriate distribution of the curriculum.
It is obvious that the equal existence of two departments completely different in creative approaches could not be peaceful in the same faculty. At first, the “majority” group simply tried not to recognize the “minority” group, then it challenged the independent vote of the “minority” group at the Presidency of the faculty of architecture.
In the period 1921-1925, the team of the tutors of the faculty was revised several times. There were attempts to dismiss Ladovsky from the professor’s position. The severity of the situation is also evidenced by the fact that Zholtovsky, who headed the architectural section of the State Academy of Artistic Sciences, in the summer of 1922 was engaged in an examination of the faculty of architecture. Based on his report, the situation at the faculty was discussed at a meeting of the scientific and art section of the State Scientific Council.
“Our faculty of architecture is in poor condition (it’s apperance). On this occasion, I want to say that I will, of course, in every possible way defend the further existence of the architectural department at VKHUTEMAS. I believe that it is organic and necessary here: I think that the ultimate aspirations of painting and sculpture are, after all, aspirations to turn themselves into elements of architecture… I categorically say that the fears that I found in the material presented to me regarding the possibility of destroying this faculty will find a decisive ally in me. I believe that … without this, it (VKHUTEMAS) would be injured.”
Nevertheless, Ladovsky’s small group began to play a leading role in the pedagogy of the architectural faculty and, moreover, had a fundamental impact on the whole new system of art education.The “minority” lead by Ladovsky won it’s positions in the Main Course (and in 1923 Ladovsky’s methodology became widespread throughout the Main Course) and ceased to be a minority in quantity.
It was joined by a team of Ladovsky’s students, young architects who became teachers of the “Space” discipline: V. Balikhin, S. Glagolev, M. Korzhev, I. Lamtsov, V. Petrov, Yu. Spassky, M. Turkus, who worked under the direct supervision of Krinsky.
The positions of OBMAS at the faculty of architecture were strengthened by the objectively adjoining them group of the New Academy, as K. Melnikov and I. Golosov called their common studio.
The representatives of the latest architectural trends of the 20s, Melnikov and I. Golosov, as well as Ladovsky, set out to teach students, first and foremost, the creation of new architectural forms that correspond to the time and modern level of construction equipment. At the same time, they paid great attention to the “compulsory study of classical architecture as a harmonious and consistent system for the development of all the laws of its nature.”
The equal development of various creative movements in the atmosphere of free competition – one of the principles of the policy of the Soviet government in the field of art – has been consistently carried out in the life of the faculty. The competitive race gradually generated a certain interaction between the two architectural directions and led them to a natural merger in 1926 on the basis of the pedagogical system developed by Ladovsky’s group and accepted in all the studios of the faculty of architecture.
Since 1923 all students of the faculty of architecture, including the academic department, spent the initial two years of in the Main Course according by Ladovsky’s method in the atmosphere of the latest artistic searches and experiments.
A great achievement in the development of the faculty of architecture was the creation of a research architectural laboratory. The report of professor Ladovsky on this issue at the academic conference of the faculty of architecture received not only widespread public approval, but also had immediate practical results.
Speaking about the architectural education system in VKHUTEMAS as a whole, it should be noted that its innovation was based on a solid, well-developed base of scientific, technical, historical and artistic training of the architects. This was the distinctive quality of the faculty of architecture, which was lacking, for example, at the faculties of metalwork and woodwork.
The creative path of the faculty of architecture can also be estimated by the fact that its teachers Ginsburg, brothers Vesninov, K. Melnikov, Ladovsky, I. Golosov built almost all of the most remarkable buildings of Soviet architecture of the twenties.
(Based on the article by N. Adaskina VKHUTEMAS-VKHUTEIN // Encyclopedia of the Russian avant-garde fine art architecture, volume III history. Theory, Book 1. – P.102-111).
(based on the article by L. Zhadova “History of the faculty of architecture of VKHUTEMAS – VKHUTEIN” // VKHUTEMAS MARCHI 1920 – 1980 Traditions and Innovation, Moscow 1986. – P. 25-30)