Russian Utopia: A Depository- Over the course of the past 300 years, and especially during the twentieth century, Russia has proved to be a graveyard for myriad unrealized building projects, many of them designed by Constructivists and architects of international renown. In Russian Utopia: A Depository, Moscow's Utopian Foundation has archived some 480 of these futuristic visions. This unprepossessing site boasts a multitude of riches: blueprints, drawings, model photographs, and virtual reconstructions--viewed as video fly-throughs--based on the unbuilt creations of Tatlin, El Lissitzky, and others. Additional highlights include standards like Le Corbusier's design for the Palace of the Soviets and, in a wildly dissimilar vein, émigré conceptualists Komar and Melamid's proposed collaborations with beavers and termites.

Ken Coupland, Metropolis Magazine, 2000




                                                The Russian Utopia is represented by a compact depository of 480 architectural projects from the last 300 years of the Russian history that have never been carried out. They constitute but a fraction of the pool of ideas with a claim on the architectural reorganization/perestroika of Russia - a collective Russian dream.

Each of these ideas was in its time directed into the future, near or distant - a time which, as of today, has already passed or is still to pass, and has survived as its authors dream. Created by professionals or amateurs, children or adults, senior citizens or university students, they (the projects) represent a different Russia with no place in real space, like the Utopia Land. It is the Russia, which is rather similar to the real one with almost the same architectural styles and almost the same organization of life. Only it has many more Palaces, Monuments and Mausoleums. It is eternally striving higher and higher and, on occasions, is parting with the firmament. It is the Russia, which we have lost and keep loosing, projected or rejected. In this metaphor, the depository is represented as a columbarium.


Sixteen 30-file cabinets (of the type used in museum storage facilities) accommodating graphic sheets are to be arranged at random in the semi-darkness of the pavilion. Each drawer holds one design by one of contributors and has a combine digit-and-letter code inscribed on the outer surface of the drawer. Each code mark indicates one of the possible classifications of the design material: chronological, alphabetical, typological, stylistic or functional. A computer is to be set in a separate room of the pavilion with all information about the exhibits structured in accordance with the same classification principles.

The system of codes is also set out in an index/description of the exhibition.

A visitor of the pavilion/depository can get familiarise himself with the archives pursuant to the one of the three following scenarios: 1. At random, pulling out and pushing back drawers of the cabinets; 2. in a planned fashion, using the computer; 3. Using the index/description list.

Central consideration:

The body of architectural plans that have never been carried out exceeds by a wide margin the number of plans that have been realised. Hypothetically, all of the projects shown at the exhibition are reliable. Any eminent architect of the past left behind designs of ideas which can easily be translated into reality with the use of modern technology in present-day social conditions. Any project in the proposed depository of ideas is, in principle, a modern one and quite often represents a much more accomplished work than any of those produced by contemporary architects, many of whom are in some or other way trying to follow historical traditions but rarely achieve the quality of being contemporary to the style they are copying. An original drawing may become a blueprint and an architect may become a consultant/archivist.

The development of computer-assisted technologies makes it possible not only to collect, store and put to use the entire stock of paper architecture works, but also to create, in given parameters, computer models of an architect's creative process, his school, style and the historical epoch in which he lived and worked.

The museum must allow their archives to be used for the benefit of the future and, like any city which has amassed on its territory buildings from various epochs, the storage facility of a museum may become an active element of the present-day construction process and the Monument for the III International may after all be built.

Yuri Avvakumov, 1996