What will you show at Zodchestvo? What is the context and main message of your exhibition?
- The exhibition coincided with my 60th birthday and with the 30th anniversary of the Style of 2001 competition, in which I received one of the first prizes at the beginning of 1985. At that time, I was categorically the only Russian architect to use the language of traditional architecture. Unlike most of my colleagues, I have not changed my style and I would like to illustrate this with some projects and buildings.
What quality characteristics distinguish your projects from modernist ones?
- Monuments of architecture and urban planning, that is, those construction formations that are preserved and recreated in case of loss, have only one quality, thanks to which they have this status. This quality is beauty. It is this unscientific category that is for me the main criterion for the quality of the project.
What, in your opinion, from the classical heritage is relevant today, and what is inapplicable?
- Architecture, if it is not demolished, is always relevant. The monument is relevant by definition, because memory is the actualization of the past. Historic city centers are more important to society than new neighborhoods, from any point of view. From the current past, that which is recognized as the century-old tradition of the history of architecture and art as the greatest successes from an artistic point of view, is viable. We have this ancient Russian architecture in its real forms and scales, post-Peter the Great architecture until the middle of the 19th century, as well as neoclassicism of the beginning of the 20th century. All other "false", synthesized styles of eclecticism, including neoryus, although they entered the fabric of the city, did not produce a single convincing in the artistic sense of the building, including church construction.
Are there any specific Russian aspects of working with the classical heritage, or is a universal architectural language used?
- The specific aspect of working with the classical heritage in Russia is rather positive. Because the mass housing development in the pre- and post-war period was carried out within the framework of neoclassicism according to the ideas of the Silver Age. Some masters who worked in Stalinist architecture are still alive. The mass positive attitude of the population towards this architectural phenomenon is well known.
Now there is a fashion for urbanism. Many people try to deal with problems of the urban environment. Can the “general public” influence the environment (through polls, votes, etc.) or do we need a classical education and a professional understanding of the city?
- The city, or "city", is the body of a community of townspeople or citizens, and the urban environment is the body of civil society. If it has healthy beauty, then the society is healthy, and if it is disfigured, then it is sick. Modern urban studies and urban planning science, besides the historical one, are concerned only with problems, that is, with diseases of megacities, small towns and other settlements. Unfortunately, there is a huge amount of written and spoken words about the problems of the city, endless symposia, conferences, round tables, etc. resemble an attempt to scientifically "speak" the disease.
Can a classic be democratic? Aren't modern experiences of large-scale projects in the classical style a simplification of the canon, a lowering of the bar?
- The word "democracy" is an ancient political term meaning the rule of the people, that is, the majority. Sometimes this word is used in the economic sense (that is, simpler and cheaper). We often understand the word "democracy" as freedom, or rather, permissiveness of market-consumer relations.All these concepts are actually somewhat opposed to each other. Let's start with a political concept: the movement of political democracy in Russia at the end of the eighties, which led to all known consequences, developed under the sign of the return of “lost spirituality,” primarily in the architectural appearance of cities. For the first time in history, the First Secretary of the Moscow City Committee of the CPSU B.N. Yeltsin arrives at the House of Architects and talks about the revival of the appearance of pre-revolutionary Moscow. Let us recall the television sermons of Academician Likhachev, unauthorized demonstrations near the demolished Angleterre hotel, and so on. Our left, unlike the West, was right, especially in architectural tastes.
In general, the symbol of the Parthenon classics is also a symbol of the first democracy in the history. The symbol of modern democracy is the Capitol in Washington, the Russian one is the Tauride Palace, the Reichstag is the German, etc. But the Minoru Yamasaki World Trade Center building was a symbol of global market freedom, with which we confused democracy in the nineties. The use of classicist imperial images by totalitarian regimes is associated with the natural deceit of these regimes. The Stalinist USSR had the most free and democratic constitution in the world, the socialist and popular regimes were the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini. Therefore, if you look closely at the forms of totalitarian classicism, you can see that the false monumental decor covers, like a fig leaf, a concentration camp constructivist or functionalist cage.
Now about democracy in the economic sense. There is a persistent tradition, which is sixty years old, and in the West a little more, to argue that the classics are built for totalitarian dictators and the uncultured nouveau riche who want their mansion to resemble the Vanderbilt palaces in Newport. They say that tasteless classics are for rich suckers, but high-tech is for ordinary people. In the West, by the way, they do not even notice the comic nature of such a question. In this regard, I wanted to show at the exhibition several projects built in a rather complex traditional architecture and which are almost extremely cheap.
How does the symbiosis of modernism and classics work in a modern city? Is harmony possible? Is it possible to combine classical planning principles with modern architecture, or vice versa - classical architecture in a modernist environment?
- The symbiosis of modernism and classics is also already a hundred years old. And those modernist buildings, which are "organically" inscribed in the environment of the historical center, are positively assessed only from a negative position: their organicity is synonymous with their invisibility. But an old church or a manor house, standing alone in the middle of a small town, completely built up with panel or glass modernism, becomes the most attractive architectural image and, as a rule, flaunts on the coat of arms of this city.
Now about the classical planning principles and modernist volumes. See the top view of Rome's Olympic Stadium area, designed by the Italian classicists during the Mussolini era, and then walk along these streets, which were built up in the sixties and seventies. The answer will be obvious. It is obvious, because a beautiful city should be beautiful not from the general plan, but from a human point of view. Another example: the most beautiful city in the world - Venice, has the most chaotic and shapeless master plan. And it's not about the canals, not about the water (there is no less water in Orekhovo-Borisovo), it's about the architecture, the facades, which are correctly drawn and placed in the correct position in relation to each other. When they walk around Venice and come to Piazza Manin, decorated with the classic work of modernism - the post office of Luigi Nervi, many turn around and go back, thinking that Venice is over, although formally the scale, the height of the building, etc. - are met.Unfortunately, any building with striking signs of modernity destroys the fabric of the old city. It is impossible to destroy the environment of the modern city by introducing the old form, because the modernist city does not have any environment.