По-русски

​The Stereo World of Engineer Shukhov

Until January 19, the Museum of Architecture will host the retrospective exhibition featuring the legacy of the outstanding engineer Vladimir Shukhov – a symbiosis of tremendous research work and beautiful artistic metaphor created by ASSE Architects.

Natalia Koriakovskaia

Written by:
Natalia Koriakovskaia
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov

20 November 2019
Overview
mainImg
Vladimir Shukhov is Russia’s most famous engineer of all times; he is our Russian Gustav Eiffel who is known throughout the world. In his inventions, Shukhov found himself on the threshold of a groundbreaking new system of interpreting buildings as “space shells”. The architecture of such buildings is essentially their structure. Shukhov is admired by many architects –because his input in the construction technology ensured a new degree of freedom in working with space and shape. This second, “architectural” genius of his, though, was only appreciated in the second half of the XX century, while his contemporaries more appreciated his developments of a purely practical nature. The lightweight innovative structures were rather simple to assemble, were cost effective material-wise, and were capable of spanning considerable amounts of floor space.

Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru


Shukhov’s inventions were also the fruit of their epoch, characterized by the rapid growth of industrial production and the ensuing development of engineering thought. This was the soil that gave birth to Shukhov’s genius. At the same time, the engineer’s path from industrial apparatuses for oil refinement to the architecture of railway terminals is symbolic of the evolution, or, as the curators of the exhibition (Elena Vlasova, Mark Akopyan) put it, “emancipation” of his constructions, which at the turn of the century made a leap to a whole new level. The systems were becoming lighter and more elegant, and at the Nizhny Novgorod fair 1896 were for the first time around showcased as self-sufficient “shells” of the buildings.

  • zooming
    1 / 11
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    2 / 11
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    3 / 11
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    4 / 11
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    5 / 11
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    6 / 11
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    7 / 11
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    8 / 11
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    9 / 11
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    10 / 11
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    11 / 11
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru


What was presented at the fair by the A.V.Bari engineering firm, where Shukhov worked up until the company was nationalized by the communist government in 1919, literally mesmerized the contemporaries. Probably, the effect was very much like that of Paxton Crystal Palace made of cast iron and glass that had been presented in Hyde Park half a century before. Looking like gigantic circus tents, the Oval Pavilion and the Rotunda demonstrated the possibilities provided by hanging steel meshes that covered more than a 1000 square meters of floor space. Assembled from straight rods, these shells were designed to take on strain and stretching.

  • zooming
    1 / 8
    Vladimir Shukhov. Multiradius grid shells in the production facilities of the Vyksa metallurgic plant. 1897. Model by O.Bernov, 1989, Promstalkonstruktsiya research institute, model workshop. State Museum of Architecture. Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of A
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    2 / 8
    Vladimir Shukhov. Multiradius grid shells in the production facilities of the Vyksa metallurgic plant. 1897. Model by O.Bernov, 1989, Promstalkonstruktsiya research institute, model workshop. State Museum of Architecture. Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of A
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    3 / 8
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    4 / 8
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    5 / 8
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    6 / 8
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    7 / 8
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    8 / 8
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru


The highlight of the fair was the hyperboloid water tower. Developed by Shukhov, its construction, as well as the method of its assembly, made the hyperboloid a universal multipurpose system for solving various tasks. Almost like in the Rem Koolhaas book “S, M, L, XL”, you only needed to set the right parameters of the construction that fitted your specific purpose. The variables were the height, the base diameter, the number of vertical elements, and their tilt angle. For example, making a structure tapering upwards, you could ensure extra stability at the expense of sacrificing some of the carrying capacity, and vice versa. Ultimately, Shukhov built quite a lot of such hyperboloids. The best-known is the Shabolovka tower; the highest is the Dnipro lighthouse 70 meters tall.

The hall where all of the Shukhov towers come together to form a semblance of a pantheon must probably be considered to be the central one: in the middle there is a metaphorical model of the Shabolovka TV tower, surrounded by its brothers and sisters from various regions of Russia. Specifically for this hall, ASSE Architects made all of the expo structures white, which gives it some certain solemnity: this is the main representation of Shukhov’s legacy, who is first of all known as the designer of this tower.

Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru


Thanks to ASSE Architects, however, we do not for a second forget – starting from the first hall that welcomes us with physical experiments demonstrating the nature of grid shells – that we see Shukhov not only as an engineer but also as an architect. Following the historical sequence of events in his life, represented by a huge collection of archive materials, we eventually find ourselves in the last hall, face to face with architecture. It is here that we see the direct metaphor for the construction as creative activity: the central place is occupied by video art or the American engineer and innovator Conrad Waxmann, whose volumetric mathematical grid becomes a true work of art. 

It took mankind half a year to find purely architectural application for Shukhov’s inventions and truly appreciate their significance for the entire architectural profession. In the postwar period, when the country was to “build more and consume less”, the new architecture of shells replacing the facades developed into a whole independent branch. It also got a number of fans among the “star” architects, from Frei Otto to Norman Foster. In 1964, on the basis of Stuttgart University, there opened an Institute of Lightweight Structures, headed by professor Werner Sobek, who develops still further Shukhov’s ideas of hanging structures.

  • zooming
    1 / 8
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    2 / 8
    Model of the roof construction in Hamburg. 2013-2021. Plastic. Werner Sobek. Stuttgart. Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    3 / 8
    Model of the roof construction in Hamburg. 2013-2021. Plastic. Werner Sobek. Stuttgart. Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    4 / 8
    The dome model in Millenium Park, Chcago, USA. Werner Sobek, Stuttgart. Institute of Lightweight Constructions and Conceptual Design. 2019 // Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    5 / 8
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    6 / 8
    Model of the grid shell in the Institute of Lightweight Structures 1993/1995. The archive of the institute. Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    7 / 8
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru
  • zooming
    8 / 8
    Exhibition "Shukhov. Formula of Architecture". 2019, Museum of Architecture, Moscow
    Copyright: Photograph: Julia Tarabarina, Archi.ru


What is interesting is the fact that the topic of grid shells is still pretty innovative and even slightly futuristic in this day and age, its potential still far from being exhausted. In 1965-83, the genius Buckminster Fuller patented his geodesic domes or “climatrons”, which looked like some kind of energy efficient housing for the aliens. However, these were still to remain “the great fantasy”. Modern technology opens up new possibilities for further refinement, digitalization of the wall, down to the appearance of a media screen. This path indicated 100 years ago by the visionary Shukhov, the path of completely new logic of volumetric self expression. The exhibition in the Shchusev Museum throws an invisible little bridge that starts at the break of the XIX-XX century in the ominous pre-revolution atmosphere, expressed very accurately by the stereographies done by Shukhov himself, and stretches on to the eternity.

20 November 2019

Natalia Koriakovskaia

Written by:

Natalia Koriakovskaia
Translated by:
Anton Mizonov
Headlines now
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.
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.
Pompidou Inside Out
Renzo Piano and his GES-2 have already been compared to Ridolfo Aristotele Fioravanti and his Cathedral of the Assumption. And for a good reason: GES-2 also stuns you with its grace and loftiness, but ultimately turns out to be the richest collection of recognizable motifs from an early masterpiece by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the George Pompidou Center in Paris. These motifs are fused into the grid of Shukhov-esque structures, painted white, and they create a dialogue between 1910, 1971, and 2021, built on references (not devoid of a poster-like quality) to the main masterpiece. The basilica-shaped space of the former power station is taken apart virtually just like the museum, in accordance with the concept by Teresa Mavica.
​Next to Lidval and Nobel
The housing complex designed by Anatoly Stolyarchuk in Neishlotsky Alley: tactful change of scale, tribute to the memory of the place, Finnish additions to the functional typology – specifically, saunas in the apartments – and plans for receiving a BREEAM certificate.
​And stabbed it with a knife
The leader of Coop Himmelb(l)au, Wolf D. Prix, presented three projects that he is currently doing in Russia: a complex in Sevastopol, Crimea, which, as it turned out, a western architect could build bypassing the sanctions, because this is a cultural project; a museum and theater center in Kemerovo, and the “SKA Arena”, which is built in the stead of the destroyed Sports and Concert Complex in St. Petersburg – during the presentation the latter was symbolized by a round cake that the architect eventually cut.
​The Thin Matter
The house named “Medny 3.14” (“Copper 3.14”) is composed of two textures, each of which resembles in its own way some kind of precious fabric, and of three units, each of which is oriented towards one cardinal point. The architecture of the house absorbs the nuances of the context, summing them up and turning them into a single rhythmic structure. In this article, we are examining the new, just-completed, house designed by Sergey Skuratov in Donskaya Street.
​Super Pergola
The new business center built in Moscow’s district of Presnya in the 1st Zemelny Lane is all about technology and sustainability. Its streamlined shapes and white facade grid are combined with a new version of vertical greenery: the green of wild grapes, placed at a distance from the facade, instead of arguing with the “pergola” grid, sets it off by contrast.
​Lightness of Being
Blooming Sakura, a campfire party, kids splashing in a swimming pool – no, these are not pictures from a vacation, but everyday life going on in the yards of Kiev’s housing complex “Fayna Town”. In this issue, we are examining how the utopia designed by the architects is wired, and what they did to make it a reality.
​A Triangular Folded Structure
The project of the new terminal of the Muraviev-Amursky airport in Blagoveshchensk offers architecture based on a modular form – endowed with a special imagery, it becomes the basis both for the carrying structures of the building and the plastique of the facade, at the same time reverberating in the interior design.
​The Breath of the East
Designing a residential complex for Tashkent, GENPRO is turning to traditional architecture and modern trends, aiming at emotionality and efficiency: the panjar window lattices and mishrabias are neighboring on vertical greenery and parametric ornaments, while the theme buildings do on a cotton alley and an oriental bazaar.
​The Openwork XX-Construction Set
The yard of the Architecture Museum on Moscow’s Vozdvizhenka hosts an installation by DNK ag. It is timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the company, and was originally presented at Arch Moscow. The art object is expected to stay in the yard of the museum for one year and set a new tradition – a regularly renewed exhibition project called “Modern Architecture in the yard of MUAR”.
The Spinning Vibe
The pavilion designed by Sergey Tchoban for the World EXPO 2020 in Dubai is a bright and integral architectural statement, whose imagery can be traced back to avant-garde graphic experiments by Jacob Chernikhov, but allows for multiple interpretations. The pavilion looks both like a dome temple, a spinning “Planet Russia”, and the head of a matryoshka doll. Still more interestingly, the core of the exposition is a “brain”. In this article, we take a closer look at the interpretations and the subtleties of the implementation.
Tolerant Aesthetics of Terraforming
The World Expo is a gigantic event; it is difficult to give it one definition or cover it at a glance. All the more so – such an ambitious and record-breaking fair as the one that is now open in Dubai despite all the pandemic restrictions. By no means claiming to present an all-rounded review, we are making an attempt to examine Expo 2020, where signs of aesthetic tolerance of a developer project begin to loom behind the imposing-looking “wings” of “star” architects and delights from space exploration.
The Town in the Snuff-box
The new academic building of Cooperation School in Moscow’s Taganka, designed and built by ASADOV Architects, is a compact volume, at the same time filled with functions and impressions. It easily combines classrooms, a theater, a cafeteria, a gym, and a double-height atrium with an open library and an exit to the terrace – virtually everything that you expect to see in a modern school.
​The Northern Versailles
On the bank of the magnificent Vychegda River, in a picturesque location six kilometers away from Syktyvkar, the capital of the Komi republic, the renowned neoclassical architect Mikhail Filippov has designed the town of Yugyd-Choi in the traditional aesthetics inspired by the center of St. Petersburg. The customer Elena Soboleva, the head of the Syktyvkar Housing Construction Fund, sees her mission in making Yugyd-Choi the hallmark of the republic.
​Analysis and Synthesis
The project of the housing complex “Krasin”, designed for the historical center of St. Petersburg, and situated in a very obliging place – next to the Mining University designed by Voronikhin, yet bordering on an industrial area – became the result of a thorough analysis of the specifics of historical construction on the Vasilyevsky Island, and a subsequent synthesis with avoidance of direct stylization, yet forming a recognizable silhouette, resonant with the “old town”.