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Urbanotopia and the frontier : reaching heights before the crash in Moscow and New York at the end of the 1920s Idzior, Aleksandra


My dissertation investigates, at its broadest level, the visualization of the future city in Moscow and New York at the end of the 1920s. In particular I examine two imaginative designs executed in the form of "paper architecture." One proposition was delivered by Georgii Tikhonovich Krutikov, a Soviet student of architecture, who in 1928 presented a diploma project called "Gorod budushchego" (City of the Future), and the other model was suggested by Hugh Ferriss, an architectural Tenderer, in his book entitled "The Metropolis of Tomorrow", published in 1929.1 want to discover the circumstances that prompted these two architects to suggest intriguing concepts of the ideal city, in which both authors employed similar metaphors, associated with height and a skyward trend applied to urban space. Evidently their projects announced novel ways to rethink the form of a modern city, but why is the improbable concept of " flying" such an important part of Krutikov's gorod, and why does Ferriss's metropolis evoke mountainous formations? What were the conditions at play at the end of the 1920s that prompted both architects to propose such eccentric visions? Since Krutikov's professional debut coincided with the Communist Party's adoption of Stalin's First Five-Year-Plan (October 1928 - December 1932), and Ferriss's publication concurred with the Wall Street Crash inl929, my interest leads me to reevaluate these two projects according to issues and ideas residing outside of aesthetics and to disclose the politics of representation involved in their production. Hence, my work considers how artistic practice is interconnected with socio-political issues in albeit politically and culturally distinguishable centres. As this thesis demonstrates, Krutikov and Ferriss responded to these growing tensions by imbuing their Utopian urban spaces with concepts related to boundaries and limits, and by applying rhetoric and visual vocabulary that resound with issues occupying the Soviet and American "frontier" paradigm, respectively. However, as this study concludes, while appreciating Krutikov's and Ferriss's great imagination and the dilemmas each of them faced, we should recognize the vicissitudes of their concepts, and how the following events, especially of the 1930s, revealed that Utopian thinking is vulnerable, or perhaps induced to become a dystopian reality.

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