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PALLADIO 500.
AFTER THE HOLIDAYS

  Andrea Palladio was remembered and sadly, like at the wake ceremony celebrated the 500th anniversary of his birth. Art historians have written small articles. Theoretical conferences were quietly held. His enormous influence on world and domestic architecture was noted. We talked about proportions, about specific buildings that became monuments. The presentations were prepared by a familiar narrow circle of specialists and it was possible to notice that, despite the difference in topics, almost every performance expressed weak regret with dissatisfaction with the modern state of architecture. But such is the destiny of modern theorists. They write for themselves. No one hopes to influence the historical process of the development of architecture.
  Talking about architecture smells like book dust. This language is too complex and is no longer interesting to practitioners, or to a specific customer, or to a layman. Architectural critics try to speak a more understandable language. They talk to the reader through glossy magazines superficially in the context of sensitive issues or fashionable topics. But how many critics, so many subjective opinions. I remember that in the late 80s there was a theory that with the growth of communicative technologies, the need for skyscrapers will disappear and they will die out as a relic of the past. That it will not be necessary for everyone to sit in one office, and you will be able to work sitting in your own village house anywhere in the world. It was a good idea. Ten years ago, "by a sinful thing" I wrote an article in the journal Project Russia. The article was called "Monster Hour", in which I proved my assumption about the inevitable revival of Neoclassicism. But of course, no revival has occurred. By the way, those Monsters that I was so afraid of are everywhere now. Over these ten years, interest in "fantasy-space" skyscrapers has grown so much that now all magazines fill their pictures. The reality has been changing facades. Digital and building technologies have subordinated the entire design process. Each person has a mobile phone. But are there new ideas in architecture? Ten years is a considerable period. During this period, whole eras of architectural styles were born and flourished. Russian modern. Avant-garde period and constructivism. The period of enthusiasm for "Paper Architecture" also met this deadline.
   The most important thing was always the idea. But for ease of perception, a poster embodiment of it was required. Remembering the competitive projects maded with Sasha Brodsky - after all, we also had our own symbol - a little man in a hat and a raincoat with an umbrella. Remembering these harmless projects, you first wonder how much depends on the symbol of the idea. After all, it has a truly mystical meaning. So in the “constructivist bible”, the first book of Le Corbusier in 1923, the airplane was the poster symbol of the idea - a small plane. It was in his treatise on architecture "Style and Age" that M. Y. Ginsburg placed. That is truly when the coup took place. Then for the first time not a person, but a technological symbol was put forward dominant in the theory of the development of architectural style.
  The preachers of modern modernism in the argumentation of the new style is most often mentioned... mobile phone. This is a new technological symbol, but the idea is the same.
  Simply put, today we have only two main conflicting architectural ideas. The old classic, incorporating all the styles of architecture, a symbol of which is a man born on earth. And a new modernist one, the symbol of which is a technological idea born of man.

   And you don’t have to choose, regardless of the opinions of theorists - having passed through the laboratory of the 20th century, the modernist idea won. What this idea can lead to, we can only speculate. Following the logic, architecture will depend only on the development of technology. Technology development - from the economy. The construction process is no longer led by architects, not customers, and not even government officials, but by the centrifugal forces of the general economic mechanism. This car is just starting to pick up speed, and stopping is no longer possible. Already, the perception of the world from a car, through a television screen, through a virtual computer space requires new spatial solutions in architecture. It is likely that in the architecture of the shell, formerly called facades, they will begin to move, be video screens, change shape and color. Artificial nature will be created. Artificial sun. The same centrifugal forces will require constant updating of this space. Fashion will change, and technology will change, and architecture. Unique objects cannot remain so. The same economic principles will force to clone architectural and technological schemes in the plural. The invented world will very soon fill the living space, turning the real into a pile of garbage. We even read or saw these assumptions in childhood in a movie. But there always remained two realities. One terrible space station or a city of the future. Another coveted is a field, a forest, a river and a home.
   In the end, there remains an unpredictable human factor, and it is hoped that, like last time, my predictions will not come true.
   Of the theoretical statements on this subject, the opinion of Alexander Rappoport, who still relies on the human mind, is interesting, and in his recent interview, “Design versus Architecture” made such an optimistic assumption: “For a long time in the 20th century, it was believed that architecture died and design will replace it. To this wave of changing tastes and ratings, changing understanding of architecture, everything is built up to the present day. Recently, I had an idea about the so-called planetary claustrophobia, which, it seems to me, will be the end result of such an attitude... In general, I have the impression that a total death will occur in the design paradise. And it will be necessary to get out of it... Design objects will become something like insects, which, from our point of view, are all the same. And that which is connected with life, fate, with the place where a person was born, where his ancestors are buried, will begin to regain its values. Then the tactics and strategy of architectural creativity will change. And instead of building "Gazprom" skyscrapers, low-rise houses will be built, but with a unique layout and decoration, a complex, sophisticated game will begin with light, living plants... ”

   This is actually hard to believe. It is also the fact that it will be possible to save something from this tsunami of modern modernism. But I believe that until the end of the century, somewhere away from prying eyes, the original second reality will exist. The world that Andrea Palladio saw with his own eyes. To be fair, Palladio was lucky. God opened his eyes and gave architecture a little more than his fellow craftsmen. This "a little" was the art that is still admired. It was this art that gave him the right to be called the first among equals, and the era in architecture to be called palladianism, and his successors - palladian. But there is one very important detail in this topic, omitting which we will not understand the main secret of the immortality of his legacy. Being a palladian, this does not only mean being able to copy antique fences and in proportion to build columns and porticoes. And that means creatively understanding architecture, as Andrea Palladio understood it. I’ll cite the final lines of the report of A. Radzyukevich read at the Academy of Arts: "...The creative method of Palladio is based on its attitude, which today may seem archaic to us, but this does not show that Palladio is outdated, but that we ourselves have gone somewhere not there". Here is what he writes about his activity: "...when we contemplating the beautiful machine of the universe, we see what marvelous heights it is full of and how the heavens in its cycle replace the seasons in it and preserve ourselves in the sweetest harmony of our measured move - we are no longer we doubt that the temples we are building should be similar to the temple that God created in his infinite goodness..."

    If there are still people who correctly understand and share this worldview, then it means that palladianism is still alive. And if someone calls me a palladian, I will not deny it.

 

 

Ilya Utkin

January 2009

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