Nikolay Shumakov, chief architect of JSC "Metrogiprotrans", President of SAR and SMA
After Nikolai Shumakov was elected to the post, first of the president of the AIA in 2012, and then of the CAP in 2016, his professional practice somehow faded into the background. We have to answer questions about urban planning and architectural policies, the activities of the professional community, comment on high-profile and sometimes scandalous projects. Which is partly a pity, because Nikolai Shumakov is a talented artist and architect, whose portfolio includes more than two dozen buildings, most of which are related to transport infrastructure. These are metro stations, airports, and bridges - the most complex projects that require special responsibility and attention to quality. It is not surprising that Nikolai Shumakov became the first Russian architect to be awarded the Auguste Perret International Prize.
We present the answers of Nikolai Shumakov to the main questions of our special project "Standard of Quality":
- What is quality in architecture for you?
- What are the key criteria?
- What do you pay special attention to in your projects?
- How can you achieve architectural quality in modern Russian conditions?
Filming and editing: Sergey Kuzmin
Chief Architect of JSC "Metrogiprotrans", President of CAP and CMA:
“The quality of architecture and quality in architecture is a question that has no answer. At least in Russian realities. Because if we are talking about the quality of construction, then it is practically absent at all facilities, even if it is a super facility that is being built by foreign companies - and then you can find fault with the quality literally at every step. The situation here is more complicated, and I say the same thing to my employees: do a quality project. Put high quality into your head, give out a high-quality product from idea to the last drawing, and let your high-quality project become the head of this pyramid, so that the quality of construction does not interfere with the quality of the final product. As soon as a high-quality product appears, which initially becomes higher than the poor quality of construction, this will be the quality in architecture. If quality is in the head initially - and the result will also be quality. And if we initially count on any project on a perfect reproduction of your paper in nature, it will be a complete disappointment. And for the client, for the viewer, for the consumer, it will be a complete disaster.
Architecture can hardly go from detail. It goes from the general to the particular, but it does not work from the particular to the general. Therefore, from the outset I say to everyone: do not focus on materials. And every time, unfortunately, I am right. It is not necessary to lay either this or that - give an idea that will take everything.
Forms, spaces - they give, in the end, the result. I recently came up with such an idea for myself - graphics in architecture, graphic architecture. These are tough graphics; the computer draws straight lines, clearly perceived, some kind of geometric shapes. And if the line comes from another part of the body - from the stomach, from the heart - I always see that there will be no result. Because there will be no quality.
I mainly deal with transport objects, and one such small component has been isolated from this transport - underground architecture, the subway. And the highest quality of everything I did was the runs between one station to another. Here the runs are always made with high quality. No matter how you collect them, they still turn out to be of high quality, because the idea is good. The entire subway is a stretch. These are not those helpless spaces called platform areas or lobbies. And I can say that I have built kilometers of quality architecture. So the answer is so simple, straightforward and, most importantly, true. I am convinced that there is quality there. And what rails? This is exactly architecture. This is all for real, this is human. And everything else is from the evil one.
There is no architectural policy in the country. And I don't know when it will appear in the near future. Hopefully next year there will be a law on architecture. But like all laws in Russia, it will not be enforced. There is no architectural policy, no urban planning, they just play a lot. But the damage from the lack of urban planning architectural policy is great. And when a panel dominates the whole architecture, the one that got under the sharp knife of renovation […] panel will never give quality.
We justify ourselves by the absence of politics. What's in the head? Initially, not only architects would have heads, but also a number of other professions. [But] there are no heads, but I want to live. I want to eat, and the problem of quality is covered by this desire every day.
Let's talk then about the general decline of culture. It really happened. Since this is, then why should architecture suddenly break out into leaders with a red banner on a war horse? The same cannot be. Although some of the [architects] imagine that they are the elite of society; this, perhaps, was once, when there were Buanarotti and Da Vinci. And it is not clear how they lived. This is a broad, deep and subtle question. I think that the general position is blurred, the position is absent […] as always: “what do you please”, “we will lay down for any customer”. In our country, all over Moscow, in our huge community of architects, there are only a few people who have their own position. This is a shameful situation. We know how to make tunnels, here we will not let you down. And the rest is all controversial and not very high quality."