Editorial material

  • Elena Grigoryeva

    Who are the elite?
    Those who are called elite today,
    Will be forgotten next day.
    Those who are today killed or brought low,
    Will be the elite tomorrow.
    January 15, 2016 is Mandelstam’s 125th anniversary
    Since classical antiquity many minds have been concerned about the elites. At first glance, it is obvious that elites are the best and chosen people who have power, wealth and a decisive impact on the society. However, any attempt to clarify the definition leads to discrepancy.
    Gaetano Mosca asserts bitterly that the elites are always self-appointed. Those who have power and wealth will claim themselves elite.
    On the contrary, Vilfredo Pareto says about the...

  • Elena Grigoryeva, Konstantin Lidin, Alexander Rappaport

    Discussion participants: Elena Grigoryeva, Konstantin Lidin, Alexander Rappaport, Dmitry Khmelnitsky and Elena Bagina

News items

  • The International Design Awards (IDA) announced a call for entries for their 9th awards.

  • The article observes the “ARCH_TAIGA” project – Siberian platform for annual international architectural contests for students and young architects. Every year the designers from all over the world are challenged to find the solution to a new creative task. The main goal of the “ARCH_TAIGA” project is to stimulate exchange of ideas between architects, designers, builders and ordinary people of Siberia and other parts of the world. The project participants have the opportunity to bring their ideas to other cultures, and it enriches their own knowledge and skills as well. This year the contest is set on Tatyshev island – the center of family and active recreations of the city.

  • The article presents the results of the architectural competition for the development of the Central Market held by the Irkutsk branch of the Union of Architects of Russia together with the city administration. It presents the main concepts of the winners based on the complex approach to reconstruction of the area that includes both improvements and further town-planning and functional development.

  • The author shares her impressions of the festival of architectural art “ArchBukhta. Urbanization” organized by the Club of Young Architects. The festival was held in March 2016 in Baikalsk (the Irkutsk region) and concerned the problems of Baikalsk as a monocity. The architectural competition for integration with nature invited the teams to fulfill their concepts related to the topic of the festival: “Impulse for life”. They were invited to reveal the potential for development of Baikalsk, to create a new view of life among citizens, to identify genius loci and to increase the value of the natural factors by artistic means and ecological materials.

  • It is crucial for a present-day big city not to reduce the process of spatial planning to elaboration of a formal master plan and other town-planning documents. The spatial planning should flow from the city development strategy and be based on real economic projects and demographic potential. At the same time, strategic planning should include a spatial component, because implementation scenarios for strategic plans come from the condition of the territory, possibilities and limitations of urban space.

  • Eugenia Yamova, Valeria Nuyanzina

    The article reviews the results of the 17th session of International Baikal Winter University of Urban Planning Design, the subject of which was “The System of Urban Centers. Formation of Public Spaces”. The international teams presented their reconstruction projects for urban areas, including periphery districts of Irkutsk. The teams proposed various scenarios for using the public spaces in different time, by different categories of users, depending on the functions of public spaces.

Book review

  • The article observes the book “Irkutsk and its Citizens” by S. I. Medvedev issued in 2015. The article features the key topics of the book and characterizes its visual material and the possibility to use this issue for city space investigations.

Items about an individual

  • The article observes thematic, graphic and semantic peculiarities of the works by Siberian artist Anatoly Pogrebnoy. It discusses the significance of the historical experience of pictorial art and culture for the development of personal creativity. The article describes the peculiar features of the artist’s still lifes, thematic pictures and portraits.

Short articles


  • National cultural heritage is a key element of the social, economic and intellectual potential of Russia. The masterpieces of the historical and material culture are symbols of the nation. The existing legislative and regulatory basis ensures preservation of the cultural heritage. However, it is hard to overcome the negative dynamics of the irreparable loss of the cultural heritage sites – the wooden architecture, the works of the avant-garde, the 1930-1950s, the Soviet Modernism. The historical environment disappears in small and medium towns. The article gives several positive examples of dealing with the historical heritage, including the alternative methods of economical management...

  • The article describes the situation in the contemporary Russian architecture, where the state control over business is legislatively called off, the public consumer control has not yet matured, the professional control is beyond the law, and such notions as ‘professional honour’, ‘conscience’, ‘reputation’ and ‘public opinion’ lose their value.

  • In his late dialogues, Plato defined elites as social groups that produce eidetic images or, in modern parlance, coherent, archetypic and innovative images. Plato embodied the idea of ascetic elites, which restrain personal consumption, in the images of an ideal city with a concentric structure. Hippocrates suggested an idea of a healthy city with well-balanced elements of city and rural ways of life. Open-city elites fulfil their social duty by increasing the flow of the images they produce.

  • Today the notion of palace is rather vague. It unites artistically and functionally heterogeneous buildings. Historically, there are two types of palaces: a palace-delubrum (Ancient times, Middle Ages) and a palace-artwork (epochs of absolute monarchies). From the middle of the 19th century different public buildings that had no relation to power representation were called palaces: the Chrystal Palace, the Palace of Nations, etc. In the USSR there were Palaces of Culture, Palaces of Soviets, Palaces of Labour, etc. Such public buildings can be called palaces-simulacrums, which are to cultivate democratic illusions in the society. The museeficated old-time palaces are a dead ‘outer...

  • The article describes the process of spatial reorganization of provincial cities in accordance with the ideas expressed in the model of an ideal state formed by Ekaterina II. Town-planning and architectural reorganization of the province is viewed as a component of the ‘cultural charity’ of the provincial authorities or an endeavor to recreate the elements of the metropolitan way of life in the Russian province.  The behavioral model demonstrated by the provincial authorities is considered to be a messianic opportunity to give an example to follow. The article deals with the activities of Tambov governors-general and governors R. I. Vorontsov, M. F. Kaminsky, I. V. Gudovich, G. R....

  • The article reviews a new paradigm for the arrangement of settlement systems in Russia. It is proposed to cover the territory of Russia with linear settlement systems, basing mostly on the existing and planned railroads. The author believes that some of the railroads should be turned into large transport corridors, along which wide settlement corridors with cities, agricultural zones, plants, offices, universities, scientific centers, recreations, leisure centers, as well as zones of nature reserves can be organized. The main settlement corridor should be formed along the Trans-Siberian Railway. The author calls this railroad and the adjoining settlement corridor ‘Sibstream’. He...

  • The article reviews the history of the notion of elite, its mission and functions, and, first of all, how it forms the reasons for existence. It also features the role of the elite in the relations between the state and the society. Organization of the power is newly characterized as a meritocracy, or a merit-based power system. In the conclusion of the article there are proposals for inclusion of regional and local elites in the processes of regional development and planning.

  • Today there is a growing interest toward the personality of Georgy Petrovich Schedrovitsky (GP) and the Moscow Methodological Group (MMG). The MMG is sometimes called a sect. In fact, these people offered an innovative and tough school of thinking. The Methodology emerged due to the intellectual ambiance in the USSR that turned into a variation of the totalitarian idiotism, which had only two ways out: either immigration or focusing on independent brainwork. G. P. Schedrovitsky was sure that no one intellectual tradition could surpass the Methodology in power. Today the MMG already exists without GP. But today’s MMG is also different from that of 1967 or 1987. Thus, such questions as...

  • The critique of “constructivism” and implementation of “stalinist empire” style in the USSR is regarded as a general trend in the course of revolutionary shift to modern mass society in the West culture, producing “kitch” as a hybrid of aristocratic and popular taste in urban environment. This turbulent process produces a total relativity of moral and artistic values, tastes and the concepts of style. The idea of truth and beauty becomes conventional. The future of postmodernist kitch is still obscure.

  • The article has fixed four meaningful cross-sections of arts and engineering creative work in Russia from the 1840ies to the middle of the 1920ies. In combination, they provided for the unique historic picture of the spatial structure of the VKhUTEMAS’ propaedeutics. The article based on archive documents and the long experience of knowledge about the every-day life of the house in the Novinskiy Boulevard in Moscow covers its arrangement and analyzes the contents of the experimental dialogue between functional architectural and constructive technological aspects of shaping implementing the concept of "the new method of architectural thinking" published by M.Ya. Ginzburg in SA Journal...

  • The revival of the notion of "the fine" has become one of the tasks in the framework of matching historical and theoretical issues related to architectural criticism at the present stage of architectonic thinking integration into the space of a non-linear world perception. 1954 - 1958. These years are a significant landmark in the history of Russian architecture of the Recent Time. There is the established scientific concept that these very years saw the break with the Renaissance tradition. It is really important to restore the real contents of the dialogue between the said tradition and creative aspirations addressing the future which existed in the middle of the 20th century in our...

  • The article reviews two critical stages in the history of architectural profession in the USSR, when the party and state authorities imposed change on all the key principles of architectural and townplanning design in the country: stylistic, social, financial, structural-and-technological, planning and other principles. The first stage (1929-1932) implied prohibition of the Soviet Avant-Garde architecture and transition to the so-called Stalin’s Neoclassicism and was implemented by Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin. The second stage (1954-1970s) implemented by Nikita Sergeevich Khruschev consisted in renouncing of Stalin’s Neoclassicism and a revival of modern architecture focused on the use...

  • The Soviet avant-garde of the 20s-30s has been wearing the crown of martyrdom for a long time. It is generally thought that the turn to Stalin’s Empire style was sharp and dogmatic. It is not quite the case. It was extended in time for at least five years. The buildings and constructions of the transition period are easily identified. It is a mystery why Stalin did not support the ideologically close architects of the Soviet avant-garde. Probably, because their understanding of proletarians and proletariat, as well as of how these ‘new people’ should live in ‘new architecture’ was a pointless abstraction. The necessity for monumental propaganda through architecture and theatrical...

  • Starchitect Zaha Hadid won the bid to design one of the planned stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup event in Qatar. Her design for the Al-Wakrah stadium became the centrepiece of a discussion on the role that starchitects play in society. That debate reached a boiling point in August 2014, and resulted in a digital lynching party that sheds serious doubts on the ethics and professionalism of architectural critics and journalists alike.

  • Zaha Hadid’s works are represented in the article by the Dominion Tower Office Building – the only one project of hers realized in Moscow so far. Zaha Hadid’s early creative work was inspired by Russian avant-gardists and constructivists. The article shows the impact it had on the Moscow project.

  • In the contemporary world urbanization becomes a large-scale process. Huge flows of people migrate from poorer districts to the cities with a higher level of consumption. It takes migrants about 15-25 years to give up their traditional ascetic way of life. In this period the ‘new citizens’ try to arrange compact settlements with an archaic way of life, insanitary conditions, high criminogenity and an authoritative local self-government. The processes of formation and decay of the ascetic enclave are viewed through the example of the ‘Shanghai’ trading neighborhood in Irkutsk.

  • The article presents realizations of new types of urban quarters and present-day reconstructions of these urban units aimed to achieve the higher quality of life of the population.