The world of Leonidov was full of possibilities, the political changes in Russia demanded social changes. He responded by envisioning a new society, which in turn demanded new form, new materials and new organisation of space. His aim was to integrate various activities on the inside of basic geometric forms, where materials rather then form would become signifiers for the public. The House of Industry is a perfect example, a glass facade aids to reveal the diversity of interior life, where pressing a button in the elevator could lead to exposing yourself to a new activity, subjecting yourself to change and chance discovery. Very much alike our experience of internet, where each internet link has the ability to take you into a world you haven’t seen yet, to engage you in an activity and topic you might not of considered. However as of late our Euclidean spacial experiences as well as cyber, have been of division and compartmentalisation. The possibility of chance encounters have been limited by walls and logarithms that are design to divide us. I believe Leonidov has realised this destructive power of architecture.
Following the initial success of the House of Industry, he was asked by several other major USSR cities to design a similar beacon of proletarian ideals. He with a singe building was able to achieve fame not previously know or experienced by any other architect, he build an icon and he became a star.
City officials gifted with limited imagination asked him to build almost identical building, he was being boxed in by his own creation. The House of Industry copies didn’t get built, since WWII broke out shortly after, however he did create 4 collages tagged with a separate city. There is a noticeable progression in the collages, with each and singe one you can see Leonidov’s growing frustration with the very building that put his name on the cover of Komsomolskaya Pravda.
He first removes the marble wall exposing the circulation, in next collage he goes further and removes the facade all together reviling and accentuating the true purpose of the building which becomes clear in the last collage – the union of people. People of all walks of life in one building interacting, learning, being the new society that he envisioned. One might think that what he wanted to replicate was the “think tank” from which the Russian avant-garde, constructivism and he himself was forged.
To be continue…