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ILYA GOLOSOV
 
 
 
 
  Name Ilya Alexandrovich Golosov
     
  Born July 31, 1883
     
  Died January 29, 1945 
     
  Nationality Russia
     
  School  
     
  Official website  
     
 
BIOGRAPHY
 

Among the leading early Soviet architects, Ilya Golosoy was per-
haps the most successful in adapting the rigorous, unadorned
geometric volumes of Constructivism to the social goals of the
new regime through a series of workers’ clubs that have become
landmarks of Russian architecture. In Golosov’s best work, the
apparent austerity of 1920s modernism acquired a dramatic—
indeed, romantic—cast. In this regard, it is telling that during
the early 1920s, Golosov led a theoretical movement known as
“symbolic romanticism.”

Born in Moscow, Golosov entered Moscow's Stro
School of the Arts in 1898, where he completed the full eight-
year course. He continued his professional training at the Mos-
cow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture in 1907—
12 and then moved to St. Petersburg, where he studied at the
Academy of Arts until 1915. This extended academic education
grounded Golosov in the principles of Neoclassicism, and at the
beginning of his career he came under the influence of the lead-
ing neoclassical revivalist, Ivan Zholtovskii. Even as Golosov
accepted modernist architectural concepts, the order system re-
tained its underlying importance in his understanding of form.

In the early 1920s, Golosov taught with Melnikov at
VKhUTEMAS-VKhUTEIN, and, like Melnikov, he built or
projected a number of wooden exhibition pavilions, At the same
time, he produced rather eclectic, “romantic” sketches for com-
petitions on a grand scale, such as the Moscow Palace of Labor
project (1922-23), with the arched roof ofits central auditorium
suggesting the shape of a dynamo. By 1925 Golosov’s acceptance
of Constructivist principles became markedly evident in a num-
ber of large office building designs, streamlined and reduced to
a carefully considered balance of rectilinear elements. Golosov’s

articulation of form centered on the concept of “lines of gravity”
that created a logical, organic frame on which structure took
shape. Like other modernist theoreticians, Golosoy also explored

the innate properties of basic geometric forms, such as the square
and circle.

The juxtaposition of square and circle is developed in depth
by Golosov in his Zuev Workers’ Club (1927-29). Many such
clubs were built in the late 1920s and 1930s, and in the most
pragmatic sense they were intended to provide a meeting and
recreational space for both workers and professionals (whose
alternative might have been the tavern). On the level of ideology,
the workers’ clubs provided an opportunity for the integration
of architecture and social politics in the creation of communal
structures, and they firmly announced the leading role of the
Communist Party in the creation of a new society. It is not
surprising, therefore, that the club concept (or “palace of labor”)
stimulated some of the most interesting’designs of the period.

The Zuev Club has deteriorated over time, like most Con-
structivist buildings, but the vigor of Golosoy’s concept has not
diminished. The large corner cylinder, containing a stairwell
enclosed in glass, is clenched with a rectangular extension of one
of the upper floors. The resulting contrast of shapes epitomizes
Constructivist architecture both in its display of unadorned steel,
glass, and concrete and in its massing of sharply defined volumes.
A new industrial aesthetic created a building that resembles a
machine, symbolizing the machine age. Yet the bold modeling
of its forms recalls the work of architects such as Bazhenov,
whose neoclassical designs display a similar volumetric approach.
(The closest example is Bazhenov’s Iushkov mansion, which also

turns on a corner cylinder and, by fitting coincidence, served as
the main location of VKhUTEMAS.)

The organization of interior space at the Zuev Club also
devolves on the staircase cylinder, whose wall of glass not only
illuminates with a brilliance unusual in Moscow architecture but
also highlights the radial construction of the reinforced-concrete
beams beneath the upper landing. The dynamism of this
machine-like space, which served to concentrate motion within
the building, is both functional and lyrical in its relation to the
urban landscape beyond the walls. Like Shekhtel, Konstantin
Melnikov, and Le Corbusier, Golosov was particularly attuned
to the properties of the glass membrane in defining the relation
between interior and exterior space, but he went beyond them
in his use of glazed components to endow the structure with
the sense of a living organism whose interior workings—people
moving from one level to another within the building—were
exposed to view. Unfortunately, in the few of Golosov’s projects
that were realized (primarily apartment buildings), the diver-
gence between the crisp lines of his drawings and the realities
of Soviet construction methods is all too evident.

By 1933 Golosoy, like many of his contemporaries, had aban-
doned the idealistic view of transparent structure in favor of a
massive, opaque neoclassicism. One of the most obvious and
best preserved examples of this later phase is the large apartment
house (1934-36) on Yauza Boulevard. In this and other admini
trative buildings of the late 1930s, Golosov melded the neoclassi
cal principles of his early career with the formal restraint of his
modernist period.

Throughout the prewar decades, Golosov’s architectural
work was complemented by that of his older brother, Pantelei-
mon Golosoy (1882-1945). Although the two did not collabo-
rate as closely as the Vesnin brothers (Alexander, Leonid, and
Viktor), their careers followed similar paths, from early study
at the Stroganoy School and the Moscow School of Painting,
Sculpture, and Architecture to teaching positions at
VKhUTEMAS-VKhUTEIN and the Moscow Architectural In-
stitute. Panteleimon Golosov’s most successful modernist struc-
ture was also one of the last: the Pravda Building, designed for
the publishing empire of the same name and still very much in
use. The building combined a nine-story office block, fronted by
the lower printing plant, with its streamlined, horizontal window
lines.

The parallel paths of the two Golosov brothers continued
with the turn of Panteleimon Golosovy to the design of classically
articulated apartment buildings at the end of the 1930s. Al-
though their careers can be seen as a successful example of the
transition from modernist, functional architecture to the more
conservative political and cultural environment of the 1930s, it
seems evident that the pressures of the prewar and war years led
both to a premature death in the same year, 1945.

WituiaM C. BRUMFIELD



 
 
 
 
 
TIMELINE
 

Born in Moscow, 31 July 1883. Brother of architect Pantelei-
mon Golosov. Studied at Stroganov School, Moscow 1898—

1907; attended School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture,
Moscow 1907-12. Engineer, Russian Army 1914-17, Worked
with Ivan Zholtovskii 1918-21, Professor, architecture faculty,
Moscow Polytechnical Institute ftom 1921; professor and head
of a workshop, with Konstantin Melnikov, VKhUTEMAS,
Moscow from 1921. Member, Union of Contemporary Archi-
tects (OSA). Died in Moscow, 29 January 1945.

 
 
 
 
 
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