Socialism and Representational Utopia: Club of the new social type
Submission to the Friends of Fondren Library Graduate Research Awards, 2017. This paper was originally prepared for Course ARCH 646 (Fall 2016): History and Theory of Architecture III, given by Professor Scott Colman, Department of Architecture.
This paper studies the “Club of the New Social Type” by Ivan Leonidov in 1928, a research study project for a prototype of workers’ club. As a project in the early stage of Leonidov’s career, it embodies various sources of influences upon the architect from Suprematism to Constructivism. The extremity in the abstraction of forms, specific consideration of programs and the social ambition of Soviet avant-garde present themselves in three different dimensions. Therefore, the paper aims to analyze the relationships of the three aspects to investigate the motivation and thinking in the process of translating a brief into a project. Through the close reading of the drawings against the historical context, the paper characterizes the project as socialism and representational utopia. The first part of the paper would discuss the socialist aspect of the “Club of the New Social Type”. I will argue that the project demonstrates Leonidov’s interest in collective rather than individual not only spatially, but also in term of mass behavior and program concern. In the second part, the arguments will be organized on the representation technique in the drawings which renders the project in a utopian aesthetic. It reveals the ambition that the club would function as a prototype for the society and be adopted universally. Throughout the paper, the project would be constantly situated in the genealogy of architectural history for a comparison of ideas.