City as a transformational tool. The infinity cities of Ivan Leonidov
During late ‘20s and early 30’s, the debate on the masterplan of Moscow, on its architecture as the capital of the Workers’ Promised Land and, by extension, on the form of the new Socialist City (Soc-gorod) transformed this metropolis into the largest urban laboratory of the 20th century. Two were the main positions: "urbanists", such as Sabsovič, who still believe to achieve the formal control of the urban entity implementing industrialization, territorial planning and the engineering of individual existences; and "disurbanists", such as Okhitovič, who at the contrary conceived city as a superstructure of the bourgeois-capitalist modes of production, made obsolete by the Bolshevik revolution and that, as such, should be overturned. For "disurbanists", the collapse of the city inherited by Czarism should have been implemented by dissolving the city in a new territorial form, using to this purpose the new infrastructural network planned (or better dreamed…) by Soviet Power (cars, trains, airplanes, airships, spacecraft!). The city would no longer have a form but would have to be reduced into pure process, directly derived from the Kuzmin’s "daily life program", defined by the distances for commuting to the production sites, designed by the sinusoidal diagrams of the circadian rhythms of workers and by the “industrialization” of their sleep-rest-works periods. The Socialist City is founded on a brand new dimension: its scale is related to the continental extension of the Soviet Union, to the horizon of the steppes, to the industrial compounds strategically dispersed all over the U.S.S.R territory. During the years 1928-30, Ivan Leonidov (1902-1959) conceived an idea of city sprawled across the entire Soviet Union: an infinite urban structure, innervated by industrial zones, residential compounds, public buildings, ready to colonize the whole nation. The goal was a city nature hybrid, unlimited but endowed by the measure given by an orthogonal ribbon grid conceived as a geographical dimension rather than a geometrical form of urban planning. A centuriatio that potentially went from Moscow to the Urals, a linear disarticulation of the American Jeffersonian grid, an "all program and no form" plan - as Rem Koolhaas would say - that was tested in the competition design for the new industrial town of Magnitogorsk. Or, in an alternative version, Leonidov’s city becomes a network: its nodes are institutional buildings whose distances are calculated on the basis of the power of the radio signals that connect them (project for the Social Club of a “new type” versions A and B).
Ivan Leonidov, Constructivism, Socialist City, Soviet Architecture