THIS ISN’T A PARADE—IT’S A WAR.
PUSHKIN, THE LITTLE HOUSE IN KOLOMNA.
All our contemporary construction takes on the character of completely unnecessary monumentally, it is calculated for an excessive durability. In part the term of the amortization is too long. Our buildings are in the highest degree antediluvian; the materials are weighty and expensive, which causes our buildings to be of extremely high cost and most cumbersome. Our houses remind one more of medieval castles than contemporary dwellings. Let us take two examples for illustration: The House of Soviets in Makhachkala (Dagestan) built in the form of a Genoese castle of the sixteenth century (Fig. 73) and either Professor Ginzburg’s project for a contemporary apartment house (Fig. 76)—or our own proposal for house-communes (see Figs. 71–72). A quick look suffices to reveal the absurdity, extravagance, and senseless monumentality of the Dagestan construction. Examples of such a prodigal waste of materials are endless. It is enough to illustrate the Central Telegraph Building on Gor’kii Street,1 the Gosbank building on Neglinnaia Street (Moscow) [Fig. 75], a large number of buildings in Novosibirsk, etc., etc.
73. HOUSE OF THE SOVIETS IN MAKHACHKALA.2
74. SANATORIUM IN THE UKRAINE WHICH LOOKS MORE LIKE A CREMATORIUM.3
75. ACADEMICIAN ZHOLTOVSKII. THE GOSBANK BUILDING IN MOSCOW. A MODEL OF THE MOST TASTELESS ECLECTICISM.4
Meanwhile, we have, at present, full opportunity to build with the light and inexpensive materials which we possess in abundance. For example, we have wood, a fine material for light framework construction, fibrolite (sawdust with magnesia cement), torfìeum (peat), torfo-veneer, materials made from textile wastes, Nekrasov organo-silicate blocks,5 scutched bricks, glass-slag hollow concrete blocks, and many others.
These light and inexpensive materials make possible the widespread installation of factories to produce standardized parts for buildings so that only the finished parts, the blocks, etc. need be transported to the construction site. The Nekrasov organo-silicate blocks would be especially good in this connection.
Therefore, one of the most important problems of today must be to recognize the working out of a type of light construction, the setting of necessary standards, the development of standardized parts for lighter buildings, and the organization of a mass production of these parts. Most expedient would be the creation of an experimental institute for dwelling construction, such as the Bauhaus at Dessau, where all our outstanding and advanced architectural and engineering talents would be concentrated in order to work out both the planning and the construction of socially meaningful architecture and its equipment.
In the establishment of this institution there must be consolidated all the construction experience which now is extremely dispersed and is not united by one single will.
It seems to me that this institute must also work out the problems of communal construction, including those of water supply and sewage. The latter is all the more important since we still are extremely conservative in our approach to this matter. It is sufficient to point out that we are hardly using at present the American method of wooden water pipes and sewer systems which has proven itself, although this type of installation is not new here and can be met with in many parts of the USSR, where it has been used both simply and inexpensively.
Besides this, we have the experience of having built for an electric station in the Caucasus an extensive pipe system out of wood which handles quite high pressures.
If we could solve this problem, we would be able to open up completely new possibilities in the matter of development of water supply and heating networks, as well as sewage disposal—all of which would be extremely simple and inexpensive. In addition, this would free many tons of metal which we are at present literally burying in the ground.
The same can be said for the covering of our buildings.
Composition paper [tol], rubberoid, and similar materials are rarely used by us. Meanwhile their lightness, nonflammability, comparative cheapness, and simplicity of installation make it possible to convert the many millions of tons of metal of our roofs into productive machinery.
76. M. IA. GINZBURG: PLAN FOR A CONTEMPORARY APARTMENT HOUSE.6