Urban Landscapes of Revolution: Re-inventing Architecture and Public Space in Soviet Russia of the 1920s

Markus Lähteenmäki
Prof. Dr. Maarten Delbeke
since 2017

My thesis analyses the role and means of art and architecture in reconstructing the new social reality, articulating the political ideals and developing the ideological poetics of Soviet Russia during the first decade following the October Revolution. I analyse on one hand the new theories and practices of the avant-garde that redefined the boundaries and effectivity of art and architecture aiming to elucidate how architecture's relationship to the other arts as well as the society at large evolved. On the other hand, the aim is to show how reconstruction of public spaces played an important role in articulating and manifesting the new ideals of the revolution, such as that all land belongs to everyone. Analysing both projects of appropriation of spaces of imperial and capitalist power in the centres of cities, as well as constructing new neighbourhoods in the fringes, I will show how the inversive promise of the revolution of redefining social hierarchies and moving the periphery to centre was an important motivation for many of the projects, and how they in turn were a key concrete manifestation of it. The analysis of a wide range of projects in Moscow and Leningrad will help to isolate some of the key problematics of the era and elucidate the role and new means of architecture in constructing and articulating socialism in the real space of the city as well in contributing to the myths of the new state. Close reading of projects will also allow me to show how new types of spaces and new urban typologies were developed and how they had an important and long-lasting impact on the planning of cities in the socialist world.