По-русски

Nikolay Lyzlov. Interview by Grigory Revzin

We continue to publish interview to architects-participants of an exposition of the Russian pavilion in Venice. Texts of these interviews will be included into the catalogue of the Russian pavilion

Grigory Revzin

Written by:
Grigory Revzin

08 July 2008
Report
mainImg
Your profession is a very ungrateful one. An architect cannot create on his own; he needs a team to support him. Keeping an office is a minor problem in itself. But then there are clients, builders, civil servants. Instead of creative work you find yourself involved in endless compromises, and the final product is also unadulterated compromise. So why do you do it?

From inside the profession that’s not the way it looks. Architecture is a fascinating process. A project is born and grows, and you help it grow. Your office is your team. Every team has a captain, and then there are all the other team members, and the captain cannot manage without them or they without him. For someone in this team three qualities are important: love for his profession, ability, and ambition. What can be better than to play in the same team as people who are capable, ambitious, and love what they do? As for builders and civil servants, they are a circumstance which has to be taken into account, calculated, and bypassed. With clients, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the situation. I always tell my staff that clients are not our partners. They are an element of nature. And like any element – wind, water, or earthquake – they possess energy, and this energy is something we need to be able to exploit. You can resist it, as a dam does, and it will press against you. Or you can set a sail against it and sail away – close to the wind maybe, but at least you’ll be sailing. Otherwise, you’ll be crushed, or you’ll crush your client, but either way nothing good in terms of architecture will come of it.

But what’s the point of this endless tacking to and fro? What’s so good about it?

As human beings we need to create – to make things which did not exist before us. Architecture is the best way to achieve this. It’s a lifestyle, a hobby, a sport.

But if it’s a sport, who are you competing against? Your colleagues? Space?

No, it’s not the kind of sport where you beat someone. It’s not a game, but sport in the sense of process – when you’re constantly taking decisions, fighting against yourself, against circumstances. It involves strategy and tactics. Like, for instance, sailing. And there’s no need to beat anything or anyone. It’s more like the work that the gardener does. Something grows according to its own laws, and you help it grow.

The project grows of its own accord, rather than out of you? Out of what, then?

There is a set of circumstances – spatial, economic, functional – that give rise to a certain chromosome – a seed, a model of the future. Or to be more precise: these are circumstances in which a particular chromosome can survive. It subsequently grows to become an organism. And your task is to ensure that this organism grows normally.

But how do you know which chromosome is the right one?

Unfortunately, only by natural selection. To begin with, you draw lots of hieroglyphic signs, each of which contains a spatial model – and they die out. And the one that does not die is the normal one. You kind of test their viability.

So it never happens that you arrive at a site, look at it, and a solution occurs to you.

No, that never happens. To begin with, when you see the site, your first feeling is perplexity. Here your only salvation is experience – the knowledge that on any site it’s always possible to build something. This is calming. But you never have the feeling that you must do something a particular way. In general, this first moment, when you have to create a multitude of non-viable chromosomes, is the most difficult.

And how long does it last? Do they take a long time to die?

It’s usually quite quick. Like with a dandelion: there are a huge number of seeds, but then they quickly scatter. The more experience you have, the quicker you learn to distinguish solutions that are non-viable. However, it sometimes happens that you think you’ve found it – the simplest and most effective solution, – but then, when you embark on the next stage, you run into some irresolvable contradiction. You realize that you’re working violence on life and nothing good will emerge. Then you go back and have a look at how the other embryos are getting on. The end result should be a system which satisfies the entire set of circumstances and translates these circumstances into a spatial organism. In architecture I sense a sort of agricultural cycle. First you plough, then you sow, and then the crop begins to grow. At a certain moment you have to let a project go and feel that it is already ripening by itself. And then you harvest. And it’s the same with every project. And that’s what I like most of all.

If a project is a chromosome that grows by itself, then how do you know what shape it should take in the end?


There’s no way of knowing. It must grow by itself; all I can do is protect it. There’s a very strong resemblance with a plant. A tree has a morphology. It must have roots, a trunk, branches, leaves; but it lacks a finite external form. It has grown the way it is, and that’s its form. I think that looking for an external form is a kind of violence; form should occur by itself.

So there’s no point, I take it, in asking what form is beautiful.

‘Beauty’ is a category that’s badly lacking in clarity. If someone says he’s seen a beautiful house, that doesn’t mean anything to me; I am unable to picture this building.

But there are certain, say, ideas concerning the perfect architectural form. Proportions, textures, composition, mass. Styles.

Proportions and textures are something that all living organisms have. Trees, cats, elephants. This is important for my understanding of architecture too. But I think you could say that a tree has no composition and its distribution of masses is variable. And this, I think, is the wrong direction in which to look. I don’t like architecture that is dressed in something else. Niemeyer is right to say that a building should be visible in its entirety in concrete. It’s the same as with paintings or graphic art: I prefer minimalist graphic art in which a single line says it all. Like the works of Picasso or Serov. A line should not become overgrown with hatching. A building should not become overgrown with wool. Styles are either for the critics or for epigones. They are a means of classification rather than of art. A hare does not know that it is a hare; it simply is. Buildings should come into existence in the same way. An architect who tries to design a Constructivist building today is just as much a stylist as someone who designs architecture in the Classical style. Initial, a priori forms can be only very general and primitive – you might say, for example, that here, on this spot, there might be something big or long or red. But to say that here there should be a particular style is violence. It’s wrong even to think that way.

Because there’s no way to attain this style?

Because there’s no way of protecting it. It won’t survive.

Protect it from whom?

From the whole set of circumstances. It’s a non-viable embryo.

So a building can grow only from its site and function. And never from the history of art, tradition, from an abstract sense of beauty?

That’s right. And there’s also a criterion of organic architecture. If architecture is organic, then it is beautiful.

But historically architecture was born from an a priori method.

For example?

Well, for example, Le Corbusier. Architecture that is created for any site. For Berlin, Marseilles, India. You have a modulor, a clearing and that’s all you need.


It’s a miracle. This architecture is ideally suited to its location; it creates a point of emphasis for the entire space around it. But even this is not the point. There you have a higher form of organicity; Le Corbusier created a perfect organism. Like, for instance, an elephant or a cat. If a cat moves from place to another, you can’t say it has lost its organic quality? It’s the same with Corbusier’s house.

You aspire to miracles?


Of course.
a part of the facade
zooming


08 July 2008

Grigory Revzin

Written by:

Grigory Revzin
Headlines now
A High-Rise Erector Set
In this article, we are examining one of the projects submitted for a closed-door competition for a housing complex to be built in the north of Moscow. The KPLN architects proposed a simple volumetric pair of 100 meter high towers, united by a common sculptural design based on laconic contrast, yet dramatic at the same time. Another interesting thing is an oval yard that is “carved out” in the stylobate roof.
The Leisure Culture
In the new extra building of the Klyazma resort center, whose project was developed by KPLN, the aesthetics of Soviet modernist architecture is combined with modern ideas of how leisure activities should be organized.
The White Grove
This project by “Ginzburg Architects” scored first place in the international competition for a draft project of a Cathedral Mosque in Kazan, dedicated to the 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam in Volga Bulgaria. The concept of a “white garden”, which the architects presented in modern shapes, interprets the rules and notions of Islam and refers to historical figures. Below, we are examining the project in detail.
Triangle Function
The eccentric shape of this thin slab that expands upwards is not a formal gesture but the UNK architects’ response to the site’s requirements and the technical and economic performance specifications. The solutions are modernist, cost-effective, and functional. The building is terraced, the side ends are accentuated with a “slab” shift, and the wide facades are composed of triangular bay windows.
The Shelter of a Digital Wanderer
The apartment hotel that GAFA designed for the central district of Moscow offers its guests living the habitual routine through a new spatial experience, and claims the status of a new landmark as well.
The Takeoff of a Multifunctional Approach
ASADOV architects presented a concept of developing the old airport in Rostov-on-Don. A four kilometer long boulevard stretching in the stead of the former runway and the block housing, multiplied by a wide range of business and public functions, possibly including the governmental one, will allow this area to claim the role of a new attraction point with a high level of self-sufficiency.
A Ringlet Bridge
The project of a pedestrian bridge, proposed by the architectural company ATRIUM, headed by Vera Butko and Anton Nadtochiy, for the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, became the winner of the A+A Awards organized by the Architizer portal in the “Unbuilt Transportation” nomination. The bridge is indeed a stunner: a “hanging garden” in concrete tubs of columns, suspended over a city highway, is fitted with ringlets of wooden ramps, which in the bridge’s key point form an element of national ornament.
​Consistency of the Method
Marking its 35th anniversary, Reserve Union (officially named OOO TPO Reserve in Russia) used the venue of the Arch Moscow convention to showcase its hitherto unannounced projects. We asked Vladimir Plotkin a few questions, and we are showing a few pictures – without any captions yet.
Vladimir Plotkin: “Our profession is complex, vulnerable, and sometimes defenseless against...
As part of the editorial project devoted to the high-rise and high-density construction that Moscow is seeing in recent years, we spoke to the leading architect of CU Reserve Vladimir Plotkin, the author of many grand-scale – and high-profile – buildings of this city. We spoke about an architect’s role and his tasks in the mega-construction process, about the drive of the megalopolis, about the strong sides of mixed and multifunctional construction, and about the methods of organizing big forms.
Upping the Stakes
The concept of a housing complex in Samara from T+T Architects: a new landmark in the cityscape, view of the Zhiguli Mountains, and VR technologies.
The Book Sanctuary
Reconstructed and renovated by Studio 44, the building of Vladimir Mayakovsky Public Library received modern technical content, at the same time becoming closer to its authentic image from the times when it was part of the compound of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.
In Tune with Mendelsohn
The “Kersten House” standing next to the “Krasnoye Znamya” (“Red Banner”) factory fits in with the tactful course adopted by Anatoly Stolyarchuk studio: it allows of no historical stylization, yet at the same time is quite respectful of the surrounding context.
​Foothills and Peaks
Developed by OSA, the concept of revitalization of the territory of Stankoagregat plant combines two scales: extreme-high towers and relatively “human-friendly” urban villas. In the conditions of ultra-dense construction, this solution makes it possible to vacate territories for public spaces and trees, as well as adapt the project for the conditions of the changing market.
City in the Stream
The books by Genplan Institute of Moscow, published for the Institute’s 70th anniversary and for the coinciding exhibition, are the most amazing three-volume edition that I ever saw: the books are totally different, yet packed in one box. This, on the other hand, is justified by the specifics of each of the volumes, the diversity of approaches to processing information used in them, and the complexity of the material as such: town planning is a multifaceted science, bordering on art.
Stop the [special operetion]!
The collective letter Russian architects was published here the 26.02.2022. Now, 04.03.2022, it's text is edited according the new law of the Russian Federation. All the signatures, more than 6800, are deleted, as well as weblinks. But we coserved the edited text for the history.
​Shape of the Winery
In this article, we are telling you more about the development of the shape and the implementation of the “Skalisty Bereg” (“Rocky Shore”) winery, designed by Alexander Balabin and his company “Severin-Project” in the Krasnodar Territory, and one of the finalists of WAF 2021.
​An Architectural Reality Show
Roman Leonidov, the well-known architect of luxury countryside residences, about which Archi.ru repeatedly wrote, launched a new online project called “Build YOUR House” on his YouTube channel.
​Buyan and the Court Quarter
The news about cancellation of the Tuchkov Buyan park has been stirring the minds of people of St. Petersburg for a week already. In the absence of any verified specific information, we discussed the situation with the architects of the park and the Court Quarter: Nikita Yavein and Evgeny Gerasimov.
​The Possibility of Flight
The project of the airport, which ASADOV Architects developed for the city of Tobolsk, and which won in the architectural competition, was not implemented. However, it is interesting as an example of designing an airport building of a very small scale, where the main challenge is the optimal organization of space and infrastructure without compromising the imagery component.
​The Wavelength
Built in the town of Pushkino in the Moscow area, the “Turgeneva 13” housing complex, while fitting in with the surrounding context, differs from it with the rhythmic austerity of its dual composition, a slight wave of the façade, and the color design, in which one can see two images, winter and summer, both “growing” from the specifics of the place.
​A Shell by the Sea
Designing the Sports Palace that will determine the development of the entire northern part of Derbent, ASADOV Architects turned to the architectural legacy of Dagestan, local lore, and ancient layers of history.
​Christmas Skyscrapers
Karen Saprichyan is wishing everyone a merry Christmas, presenting a series of letter-shaped skyscrapers. The architect has long since been working on this theme, and has calendars of various years in stock. His latest development is a group of towers designed for the city of NEOM, which will be built in Saudi Arabia.
​Parade Order
The three brick blocks of the “River Park” housing complex gaze at the water with their terraces. Each block forms a backdrop and two wings, while the residents-only yards turn into “stages” perceived from the river. The landscaped embankment, accessible to all the city people, complements the hierarchy of private, semi-private and public city life that is formed here.