№28 Architectural landscape


Think of a landscape, and you inevitably imagine a wild place in which, in keeping with the tradition of landscape painting, human beings and architecture occupy only a small space, compared to the enormous world which surrounds these subjects. Today, however, it would be difficult to call this kind of depiction realistic. The planet has been studied and built upon, and the remaining virgin territories (including deserts and glaciers) are under total observation. Captured nature is now under control, for, as previously, we do not trust it. Is not the melting of the icebergs evidence of nature’s hostility? Consequently, it is necessary to examine the landscape carefully so as to anticipate bad weather in good time. For this purpose, an observation infrastructure is being built, consisting of paths and towers from which it is convenient to track changes in the landscape (p. 46). And each of us is becoming a soldier of the army whose ‘common cause’ (to use the term coined by the 19th century Russian philosopher Nikolay Fedorov) will be the final subjection of the natural landscape.

In the central text of this issue of Project Baltia Brian Hatton looks at how the setting for human life has changed in history – from the paradisiac garden to the regular space of the city and park and, finally, to the abandoned industrial zone (which is neither city nor nature). It is here, amidst strange ruins, that the hope for a better future will sprout (p. 26). In this issue we do not look at landscape design in the literal sense of that term (i.e. gardens, parks, and public spaces); instead, we concentrate on the relation between landscape and architecture.

We can see how architecture looks for relatively traditional means of placing itself in the landscape (p. 37); follows the principle of ‘f*ck the context’ (p. 53); tries to mimic and dress itself up as ‘landforms’ (p. 67); and, finally, dissolves when it collides with postindustrial zones (p. 91). In our last issue we showed the world ‘after work’, whose only goal is ‘bare life’. The latter is realized in landscape whose basis is the infrastructure of control. Infrastructure which has no face of its own needs representation, and uses architecture for this purpose. Until such a time at least as the digital world of illusions created by infrastructure will be capable of fully replacing the material world (see Lyublinsky’s urban landscapes; p. 32).

Is it possible to imagine some other prospect apart from total mechanization of mankind and the landscape? In his The Ethic of the Dust John Ruskin talked about mountain crystals, seeing in their forms the residual traces of a drama – the ‘acts’ performed by matter and their ‘consequences’ – which allows him to endow minerals with moral qualities. The motifs of the actions of nature (and our own acts) remain enigmatic. However, with the passing of the time, it becomes possible to discern their essence. Landscape is the history of natural and anthropogenic activity on a particular territory, where the cultural process (‘cultivation’) constantly links structures erected by human beings with the given context. And every culture (whether regional or national) records this in its own way – which makes it possible to talk of specific architectural landscapes as a counterbalance to globalized ‘landscape urbanism’. Here primary importance attaches to the earth itself, which, unlike the sea, is capable of holding in place the impressions ‘recorded’ by culture. Project Baltia has discussed water on a number of occasions. So it is all the more important to remind ourselves of the significance of earth: it is through the earth that roots grow, and, as Einstein emphasized with regard to the humanitarian basis of the creative work of the physicist: “Without roots no flowers can grow.”

Vladimir Frolov


6 Events

25 Architectural landscape
26 Brian Hatton. Altogether elsewhere: Eden, wilderness, scape
32 Andrey Lyublinsky. The Petersburg Palette

33 Paysage
34 Aleksandr Rappaport. Architecture and humanism. Landscape as a category in the new paradigm of architectural consciousness
38 fi. OOPEAA. Periscope tower, Seijnajoki 42 lt. Liutauras Nekrosius. A bird’s eye view of the Lithuanian landscape
44 ru. Zemtsov, Kondiayn, and Partners. Smolny Park residential complex, St Petersburg

49 Anti-paysage
50 Aleksey Levchuk. Grid and protoplasm. The neoliberal urban landscape in the work of Rem Koolhaas and Pier Vittorio Aureli
54 ee. DORELL.GHOTMEH.TANE / ARCHITECTS. The Estonian National Museum, Tartu

59 Landform 60 Mitya Kozlov. Landscaped and Chthonian
62 ee. Stuudio Tallinn. Bolder. Project for a memorial of communist regime, Tallinn
66 ee. Stuudio Truus. Joaoru, recreational area, Narva
70 lv. Processoffice. Reconstruction of Latvian National Art Museum, Riga
78 fi. Avanto Architects. Sauna Loyly, Helsinki

83 Urbanscape
84 All the entrants showed ‘A Third St Petersburg’. Interview with Vladimir Grigoryev
88 ru. Nine versions. Transforming the Grey Belt competition results
99 ru.Valeriya Tolkacheva. Second act: postindustrial. Integration. The North workshop
ru. Даниил Веретенников. Браунфилды переходного периода
104 Daniil Veretennikov. Brownfields in the transitional period
106 ru. Iced Architects. Installation for the Street Art Museum, St Petersburg
108 ru. West 8, Ludi Architects. Реконструкция острова Новая Голландия, Санкт-Петербург
West 8, Ludi Architects. Reconstruction of the island of Novaya Gollandiya, St Petersburg

113 Competitions
ru. PlatForm. Competition for a design for a public-transport stop in the Tsvetnoy Gorod residential complex, St Petersburg

123 Discussion
Place-Action workshop on interaction of theatre and architecture
124 Brian Hatton. Actitecture: Not-So-Empty Space
126 ‘Militant minimalism’ and ‘symbolic functionalism’. An interview with Pavel Semchenko and Sergey Padalko

133 Design lab
Small scale architectural structures by K2S, Outbox, G. Natkevicius ir partneriai, KOKO, Vitruvius and Sons
151 Design & technology

166 Catalogue

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At a conference, taking place in Tallinn on April 21-22, architecture’s turn to nature and data will be explored from political and historical perspectives. Keynote speakers are Matthew Gandy and Douglas Spencer from the UK. The conference is organised by the
Faculty of Architecture, Estonian Academy of Arts, Estonia in cooperation with the Department of Geography, Cambridge University, UK. The event is open to the public.

The only foreigner to take part in the series of architecture talks entitled ‘Genius loci’ (organized by Project Baltia and the ‘Novaya Gollandiya: cultural urbanization’ project) was the Finnish theoretician Juhani Pallasmaa. Russian readers know Pallasmaa from his book ‘The thinking hand. Existential and embodied wisdom in architecture’, which is now a bibliographical rarity. Here Marina Nikiforova talks to Finland’s principal architect-thinker.