Ob'edineniye Sovremennikh Arkhitektorov (OSA - Union of Contemporary Architects) was founded in 1925 in Moscow by Moisei Ginzburg, Leonid Victor and Aleksandr Vesnin. From the outset OSA attempted to change the modus operandi of the architect by arguing that architectural skills were central to the definition and construction of social questions and to new ways of life and living. Through the use of architectural knowledge and expertise the members of OSA advanced the concept of the application of theoretical work to real problems and the notion of the architect as an 'organiser of building'. Their endeavour for new social building typologies, known as social condensers, pervades the group's theoretical as well as practical work.
In 1926, OSA founded the journal Sovremennaya arkhitektura ('Contemporary Architecture'), which was used as a vehicle to promote their views on methods of design, theoretical and operational questions and the social, economic and national conditions of the Soviet situation. In the first issue Ginzburg set out how the development of ideas worked in the 'Functional Method', in which processes 'would be open to scrutiny' both in terms of 'data and decision making, and thus publicly accountable'. Ginzburg saw the aim of contemporary architecture as one where the 'consumer' had a specific contribution to make, where construction was a collective act, it was participatory, and both the public and the specialists would make specific contributions. Most clearly he saw the architect's role as synthesising different positions without overwhelming them.
Seen in the context of the time where design was typically dictated by either an architect or developer, Ginzburg's approach seems radical; he understood architecture as something that works for and with the users. Architecture is presented as a discipline that is socially aware, acts with intent but nevertheless acknowledges production as a continuous process.
Ginzburg, Moisei, Style and Epoch. tran. Anatole Senkevitch (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983).
Buchli, Victor, "Moisei Ginzburg's Narkomfin Communal House in
Moscow: Contesting the Social and Material World." Journal of
the Society of Architectural Historians 57, no. 2 (1998):
Cooke, Catherine, Russian Avant-garde: Theories of Art, Architecture and the City. (London: Academy Editions, 1995).
Khan-Magomedov, S. O, Pioneers of Soviet Architecture: The Search for New Solutions in the 1920s and 1930s; trans. Alexander Lieven (London: Thames and Hudson, 1987).
The Narkomfin House 1928-1930, Moisei Ginzburg; http://narkomfin.ru
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