Семинар «Архитектурные проекты советских академгородков в 1960-е годы»
Статья опубликована в журнале «The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review»
The founding of Akademgorodok near Novosibirsk in the late 1950s features prominently in the historiography of the Thaw and the general turn of Soviet science to the eastern parts of the country. This article puts this story into the context of the formation of modern “green” ideas in the late Soviet Union and reconsiders the relationship between humans and nature, along with the definition of nature itself. Akademgorodok produced a telling visual perspective: the architectural plan for the city dictated that its scientific, industrial, and living zones were drowned deep in the taiga. Architects named this type of urban planning “diffusive,” and memoirists described it as a “Forest City.” Using the term of Sheila Jasanoff, we designate this “Forest City” as a sociotechnical imaginary of Akademgorodok.
Our aim is to study the historical roots of the “Forest City” and how it became a collective imaginary. How did it happen that in the 1950s and 1960s, when the “faces” of Soviet cities were defined by districts of standard panel houses, that a city was built near Novosibirsk in which so much attention was given to pre-human flora, fauna, and landscapes? What ideas and intellectual contexts composed the concept of Akademgorodok as a “Forest City”? Our answer possesses two dimensions. First, the rejection of the use of decorative elements in housing construction in the post-Stalin epoch stimulated architects to pay more attention to the greening of cities. They revived the concept of a “garden city” proposed by Ebenezer Howard on a new level. Second, the evolution of the ideas of Mikhail Lavrentyev, the founder of Akademgorodok, who upon arrival in Siberia applied the productivist program manifested in the slogan “Siberia is a treasure of resources,” but later changed his opinion to more “green” views under the influence of the so-called “Baikal Discussion.” The viewpoints of Lavrentyev influenced the design of this “center” of Siberian science, and then he formulated the idea of a “Forest City.” These contexts enable the utopian horizons and the search for models of a constructed future that were typical of the Thaw era to reflect upon the important challenges of the contemporary Anthropocene.