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The New Generation Of Architects Looking For Positive Changes In Russian Architecture In Cities

Russia’s cities and urban areas have grown and become quite modern since the end of World War II. For some time now, they have used applications of architecture’s modern movement which have had a major effect on the country’s development and for urban expansions. The new generation of professional architects is moving forward to make even more changes that will benefit habitants.

Pressure being placed on the modern movement has caused a higher level of focus on urbanization and a great deal more attention on increased development vs any other issues.

Housing has become the major concern within the urban development plan which has led to massive construction of residential complexes while promoting the values of Communism in every aspect of the building process.

No matter what the Modern Movement’s intentions were for recreational spaces that would complement new housing, their over-zealousness for living spaces caused public spaces to be placed on the political back burner.

This has caused poor designing of public spaces, causing a negative effect that is not inspiring to the people who are living in these communities.

After so many decades of Soviet Modernism, the same old model is still being used by the architects and planners who are behind the development of Russia’s cities. This can be a problem because there is a need for support from both the state and private investors. Constantly relying on the Modern Movement as the foundation for design and construction has caused a division within urban development. Over-emphasis on spaces for automobiles has forced the needs of human inhabitants to the side.

The upside, the new generation of professionals understand all too well that Soviet architecture is not the right solution for today’s Russia. They are actively looking for new approaches, moving away from rationalists, schematic model to something that realizes that cities are living organisms that will grow on their own.

This new generation of architects is looking for new ideas for developing cities as a support for the complexities of human lives and their needs. This, in turn, takes time to analyze and the ability to comprehend the spacial challenges that come with it.

They are looking to promote a changeable structure design that has the ability to foster diversity and spontaneity which in turn will arouse the human aspect of Russian cities.

To ensure that future generations of professionals support and continue making changes, Strelka Institute, along with support from DOMRF and the Russian government, has created the ARCHITECTS RF Program in order to tap into the personal and professional potential of its participants. Its goal is to develop their softer skills while providing them with the tools that are necessary to create new urban spaces and plans for Russia’s future cities.

There are so many wonderful opportunities that have come about during times of change, this is the perfect time for the young up-and-coming architects of Russia.

The ARCHITECTS RF Program has chosen 100 Russian architects that are willing to take on and confront the challenges that lay ahead. These professional architects are under the age of 40 and are working to bring about interesting projects that will change the mindset of their fellow professionals as well as the mindset of their compatriots by offering them a cutting edge for contemporary life.

One of the major players leading the movement for change is Strelka KB. This organization has spent the last 5 years pushing authorities, architects, and academics to see Russia’s cities as integrated systems.

They are also demonstrating that urbanization should embrace the needs of the people who drive it:


Recent Issues Surrounding Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica

Even though this basilica in Barcelona has been under construction for over 130 years, it seems no one had the proper paperwork or building permits! Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica is a UNESCO world heritage site that has been attracting more than 20 million people every year.

Now, after two years of negotiations, an agreement was finally met to correct the problem. The trustees of the church have agreed to pay the $41M in fees over a period of 10 years. The city can then fund public transportation, improve accessibility, and make other needed improvements to the surrounding area.

There is no sign that the lack of intelligence will surface anytime soon. The genius, way far to the left Mayor, Ada Colau, said the Basilica’s board had never worked with the proper permit. He continued his accusations claiming they failed to pay the taxes and fees for the construction, and never submitted the required paperwork for tearing down neighboring residential buildings. According to the church (via the Times), they were given a permit back in 1885 by Sant Martí de Provençals, which was an independent town at that time. Officials insist the construction should have received new paperwork when the town merged with the capital quite a few years later.

The construction project, that is now well-known as the non-permitted site, will be completed in 2026 which is approximately 100years since the death of the architect. Adding to everything else, it seems there is a great deal of controversy over whether this famous landmark still reflects the intentions of Gaudi and is expected to continue for some time.

A Little History

Construction started in 1882 under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. When he retired in 1883, Gaudi took over the project using his own architectural prowess and engineering style. He chose to use a combination of Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau design. Gaudi devoted his entire life to this project and when he died, he was buried in the crypt. He died in 1926, at 73 years-of-age, after being run over by a streetcar and only a quarter of the project had been completed.

Sagrada Familia’s progress was very slow due to relying on private donations and then interrupted by the Spanish Civil War. Construction then resumed in the 1950s but very slowly. Sine 1882, there have been huge advancements in technology including computer design and computerised numerical control or CNC, which has greatly improved progression. The construction actually passed its midpoint in 2010 but some of the project’s greatest challenges are still unresolved. There are supposed to be 10 more spires, each representing an important Biblical figure in the New Testament. To date, it is believed Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica will be completed by 2026 on the hundredth anniversary of his death.

The basilica has experienced a long history of trials and tribulations including a major division of the citizens over the belief it would outshine Barcelona’s leading cathedral, the actual design itself, and those who believed Gaudi’s death totally disregarded his design. Then in 2007, it was proposed to build an underground tunnel in Spain’s high-speed rail to France but it was decided it could make the basilica unstable. Paraphrasing the art critic Rainer Zerbst, he believed it is impossible to find another building quite like this one in the history of art. Paraphrasing Paul Goldberger, he said it’s the most extraordinary interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.

Josep Maria Bocabella, the founder of Asociación Espiritual de Devotos de San José, was so inspired by the basilica, he wrote The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia.

In 1872, after visiting the Vatican, Bocabella returned home with thoughts of building a church inspired by the basilica at Loreto. The apse crypt of the church was funded through donations and work began on March 12, 1882, which was the festival of St. Joseph. The design was that of Francisco de Paula del Villar who wanted a Gothic revival church in a standard form. The apse crypt was completed before Villar’s resignation in 1883 and then taken over by Gaudi who drastically changed the design. Although he was not appointed Architect Director until 1884, Gaudi started work in 1883.

Sagrada Familia Basilica

The Construction

Regarding the ever slow construction, Gaudi commented that his client was not in a hurry. At the time of his death, only 15 to 20% of the basilica was completed. Work continued under the direction of Domènec Sugrañes i Gras then ceased due to the Spanish Civil War in 1936. During the war, areas of the basilica were burned along with Gaudi’s models and workshop. The design presently being used is based on a reconstructed version of his plans that were also burned in the fire and some modern adaptations have been incorporated. Since 1940, Francesc Quintana, Isidre Puig Boada, Lluís Bonet i Gari and Francesc Cardoner continued the work and the illumination was designed by Carles Buïgas.

Current Members Of The Project

The current director, Jordi Bonet i Armengo, is the son of Lluís Bonet. In the 1980’s he is the one who brought in computers for the designing and construction phases. In 2012, native-born Jordi Fauli took over as the chief architect. Currently, Mark Burry serves as the Executive Architect and Researcher and sculptures created by J. Busquets, Etsuro Sotoo and Josep Maria Subirachs now decorate the façades.

Moving Forward

As of 2000, the central nave vaulting was finished and the main challenge since then has been the construction of the transept vaults and apse. As of 2006, the focus has been on the crossing and supporting structure of the main tower of Jesus Christ and the southern enclosure of the central nave which is known as the Glory façade.

The Sagrada Familia Schools building, designed by Gaudi in 1909, share the site with the church. This building was designed for children and construction workers and then moved in 2002 from the eastern side of the site to the southern corner and is now home to an exhibition.

In Conclusion

Since it’s original birth over 130 years ago, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica has gone through many difficulties and yet is still going strong. This church has lived through a war, human disagreements, and numerous architects but still holds on to its own. As a UNESCO world heritage site, this incredible building will be completed in 2026, a testimonial to human endeavor and perseverance.

The Guggenheim Museum In Bilbao, Spain

The Magnificent Architectural Masterpieces of Frank Gehry

By rule of thumb, as architecture evolves, there are very few architects that ever become well-known for their works. One of the most famous was Frank Lloyd Wright and now there is Frank Gehry, who like him, has always marched to his own drum.

Born on February 28, 1929, in Toronto, Canada he is best known for his postmodern designs including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain. Gehry attended the University of Southern California and Harvard Graduate School for Design.

He has spent more than half-a-century going against the norm or common form of architecture and is considered a force of nature unto himself. He started his magnificent career working for Victor Gruen Associates and Pereira and Luckman out of Los Angeles. He then spent a short period of time working with Andre Remondet in Paris, France then returned to California and started his own firm. In 1989, he received the Pritzker Prize and since then does not seem to have any limits in his unique designs. Here’s what we think are his top architectural designs from around the world.

epm museum

The EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington

This was built from an idea in the head of Paul Allen who was the co-founder of Microsoft. The project was completed in 2000 and was inaugurated the “Experience Music Project”. Gehry framed the base of this space needle design to look like a steel and aluminum skin that flaps in the passing by of Seattle’s famous monorail.

The DZ Building In Berlin, Germany

The DZ Building In Berlin, Germany

This building was commissioned by DZ Bank & Hines to design a branch that would sit across from the triumphal arch. That said, under the local code in Berlin, it is prohibited that any building or structure outshine the Brandenburg Gate. Frank Gehry took on the project and designed a building with a limestone facade that was subtle. The building houses a stainless steel conference room which sits inside the atrium and is shaped like the head of a horse.

The Peter B. Lewis Building In Cleveland, Ohio

The Peter B. Lewis Building In Cleveland, Ohio

The exterior of this building is classic Gehry with ribbons of stainless steel and spreads out from its brick base. Since 2002, it is home to the Weatherhead School of Management at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The building’s open interior environment evokes a welcoming appeal.

The Richard B. Fisher Center In Annandale-On-Hudson, New York

The Richard B. Fisher Center In Annandale-On-Hudson, New York

Completed in 2001, Gehry’s stainless steel facade looks like a theatrical mask was created for the Performing Arts at the Bard College in New York. Even though he was criticized for not backing sustainability, he incorporated geothermal energy systems and many other green concepts into the building which has made the structure almost completely free of fossil fuels.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall

The Walt Disney Concert Hall

In 1988, Gehry’s the Walt Disney Concert Hall was on a waiting list to build a new home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It was finally opened in 2003 and everyone from critics to the public believed the building was well worth the wait. Because of Gehry’s love for sailing, the building’s exterior has expanses of stainless steel that billow over Grand Avenue and the interior is home to panels shaped of Douglas fir that line the auditorium.

The Guggenheim Museum In Bilbao, Spain

The Guggenheim Museum In Bilbao, Spain

Upon opening its doors in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum put Bilbao, Spain on the map and, to date, is one of the most visited sites around the world. The exhibition space is a massive elevation of glass, stone, and titanium that was structured to follow the contours of the Nervión River. Although the construction of this building went unnoticed by just about everyone, when the doors opened it was praised the “signal moment in the architectural culture”, This masterpiece secured Gehry’s place in architectural history.

Frank Gehry Davis Studio

The Davis Studio In Malibu, CA

Six years after starting his architecture firm, Frank Gehry had completed a very important project building the Davis Studio which was also Ron Davis’s home. Although this was not his first project, the design gave him incredible prestige with its slanted roof which made the house seem to rotate or twist. Presently, the home is owned by actor Patrick Dempsey and his family.

 Neuer Zollhof Complex In Dusseldorf, Germany

The Neuer Zollhof Complex In Dusseldorf, Germany

The Neuer Zollhof Complex is made up of 3 office buildings created by Frank Gehry that turned the waterfront into an amazing harbor that is now called the Media Harbour. These buildings became so popular, that this enticed many other commissions for other architects including Fumihiko Maki and Murphy. The 3 building,s making up Neuer Zollhof, were so popular they have landed a place in history as a spot on the board of the German Edition of Monopoly!

The Chiat/Day Complex In Venice, CA

The Chiat/Day Complex In Venice, CA

In 1991, Gehry built the Chiat/Day Complex for an advertising agency for their West Coast Branch. Due to its interesting shape, it is popularly known as the Binocular Building. The building sits on top 3 levels of underground parking garages that can hold up to 300 cars Entry to the parking areas is through the centrally located binoculars. The binoculars also have space for private conferences and research which all connect to the main conference room. There are also 2 rooms that following the shapes of the binoculars and the ceilings are covered with Gehry’s signature snake shape. These rooms were originally designed to serve as retreats. This complex was created in collaboration with Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The building was designed like a ship’s prow and there are 3 tree trunks that flank a sculpture. The main entrance to the building has three elements that complement the surrounding neighboring areas. This complex has become home to 500 Google employees since 2011.