understanding of architecture
I think the most important point for me to understand the architecture from the point of just a citizen. I began to understand architecture with drawings because I have started drawings from my young age, in the school. For the drawing, I began to think about what I like in architecture, what I like as the details in architecture, in the town planning situations, in the oppositional different buildings – house and buildings that are coming to each other; what kind of spaces to build inside of them. From that point, I have learned that different architecture got different roles in the stage of town. If you see a square, not every building in the square has the main role. Some of them are backstage, some of them are the most important. To understand also for yourself if you get a new commission, what you should or should not express yourself in every building as the main role of all situations but to understand your role in all relationship between different buildings on that place. If you have already existing building; you have to understand what kind of role you get with that building.
Depending on that, you begin to think what kind of creation you have to bring if you create something can be important and significant for the situation outside of them. You try to create a very outstanding, some significant form, some significant surface; but also spaces around them of course. But if you create some very usual, very backstage element; you have to speak much more about the surface and about the smallest details, making a dialogue between this building and the citizen. I think from that point I differ what kind of architecture, what kind of details I choose for that. We need to understand what kind of role you get in any commission and try to fit yourself in this role and to bring yourself out with the smallest details, with very sensitive details. I think this is important for me, my main aim, my main idea of my architecture.
For me, drawing is a very separate part of art. It is a significant part of art and even if the drawing wouldn’t be so important for architecture; I think architectural drawing is still a very interesting piece of art itself. If you look at an architectural drawing, you see two things: one thing it is very abstract; because nobody of us, even architects can imagine how the building will be. So, in the drawing, you see something very fantastic. Because, you don’t see nature or a face, you see something that was never created. Even it was created, it is drawn in a very unusual way. You see a very abstract point, so drawing needs very good skills. You see very interesting, very different techniques but very abstract and very unusual substance on the same piece. What you cannot imagine is on the drawing. So, it’s like to come in an unknown road and goals on this road are to understand what can happen. So far, drawing for me is very outstanding. But of course drawing has a lot to do with the thinking of architects so that’s why many of us are working on the drawing, till now and trying to express with drawings a lot. If you begin to think and then you begin to draw, you think with a hand, because you go with your hand and with your line and you create something that is even in your head and still, you continue with your hand for something you begin to create with your mind.
I think it is also a very important part as an instrument of every architect. If we go to an archive and make exhibitions with another foundations, institutions, and museums or if we go to our own archive we put different pieces of art, where you can go into the deep water into this an unknown road of drawing. And we exhibit like as a way of thinking. We exhibit some sketchbooks or trace of paper sketches of architects, just to exhibit how an architect comes to this idea. Everyone can understand that how this idea was born and why is this idea was born, what kind of ideas are borning now by architects.
I was born in St. Petersburg and so far I could not be so much avantgarde architect. Because I was surrounded by architecture that was really repeating, very much repeating of Western European culture. If you compare the style of architecture with the end of the 17th century, Russian Baroque style, this jumped to the neo-classical style. We see a huge difference. This Russian Baroque style was a step to national tradition and Peter with his grounding of St. Petersburg was very much West European root and they think we create here like a next Rome, next very ideal European town like next Paris, as a very ideal art. Of course, to grow up in this town to see these buildings, to see these facades; you put in yourself the idea of ornamentation, of structure, of dimensions of streets and squares with a very natural for this type of town.
What I love the most is in Berlin and Moscow, there are towns of many layers. Moscow was very modest town before the revolution, after the revolution it became the capital. And the jump on the scale was enormous. From the two, three-storeys buildings; it became to the town of skyscrapers, enormous densities of developments, of government developments so it’s a jump from a small provincial town to a huge capital and even now in Moscow, it is very good to recognize. That makes this town very interesting because it is a town of contrasts, very different heights, densities. This is what makes Moscow very interesting and very contrasted with St. Petersburg. That’s why I love this town because it makes me more free in the thinking. If you are drawing or if you are working on St. Petersburg you have only one way. In Moscow, if you see, you see a very different place. From small scales to the biggest scales of palaces. It is a town of layers. And also Berlin is also very similar and it is just between Moscow and St. Petersburg, it was demolished in World War, after that there was a recreation of what should be done to rebuild it as a new capital. From that point it was decided to build like an old town structure of the beginning of 20th century so it means to create a town like St. Petersburg, was the same modest height, with fewer impulses of skyscrapers. It was a beginning to make a modest Moscow like more and more like St. Petersburg it was something in between. To work in this town, you have the acknowledgment of both styles and you can combine this knowledge and because we have some skyscrapers and we have some contrasted compositions in a modest way.
The functional facade is the facade that should be older without too much maintenance, this is the most functional thing for the facade. You can demolish it in some years or you can repair it every 5 years or paint it. Our old colleagues from 100 years ago or much more years ago, they understood how to create very simple facades to be older without any big problems along this time. So, if you look at for example; the houses of St. Petersburg in the 18th or 19th century, you see houses became to be older and older, uglier and uglier but never ugly as they are still very nice because of the details and the small elements. It’s not only as a question of architects it’s also the question of the industry: the greatest materials, the greatest surfaces to make it possible from the lowest energy to create such a facade. Because we can speak a lot about energy, possibilities to save energy. But if a building becomes to be old in 20 years it will be demolished so all I think about is energy and loss. If some citizen is going along this facade, he should look at it and says: ‘Ok, I love them, I can feel them, I can feel the surface, I can feel the materials, I can feel the monolithic art, the sustainability’. So far, as this facade will be functional not only for that function but it is inside of the building now. Because the function of the building may change in time. A building should be more its function by as a building. So you built an institute as a garage and after 20 years it’s not a garage but an architectural office. It is the sustainability of that structure.
Well, it depends on how long the facade should live. Because some buildings became very old fast. Exhibition buildings, for example, estimating for not so long time. But if you speak about a building that you estimate for a longer time as a part of the culture and the town, I would prefer every time the materials that are not too glazed, don’t have a possibility to be older with some details, that becoming a nice relief after rain or some pollutions. Your facade becomes to be more interesting in time, not as the beginning. From that point, stone or brick or good made plaster on the monolithic brick on the surface are a good pieces of materials.
future of architecture
I think we should be very serious about the technical possibilities of architecture. We should not be like somebody who says ‘For a hundred years or two hundred years there was the best technology for details and now we don’t see anything.’ Of course, we should use the oldest possibility of contemporary and future technologies. So if 3D printing will bring the possibility of sustainable facades, wonderful; 3D printing or any other computer generated ideas and technologies that make it possible. For hundreds of years it was made with hand. Wonderful. And I am not somebody who says even, only hand plaster or hand carved and stone is what you like. I think the technology should help us crazy sustainability via searching in the facades and the buildings of the past. This way could help us to find the positions and the possibilities to make the sustainability of the town, the buildings; less work by people and more work of robot because still now it’s a work of construction side is very hard. If you think about work, working there all the time after the rain, under snow, in any weather, any coldness… It’s terrible. It’s a really terrible work and it’s really very hard. And it’s also very hard to get this work with a good quality of service, quality of details. Because it’s not a warm space like in here. It is created by very cold temperature, by a very big pressure of time, to be ready at that time and so on. If you get that in a short amount of time with technology to make something prepared in
the factory, it’s great. It’s really great. I support technology if it makes sustainable buildings.
I have been in Istanbul in 2-3 times just to draw and also for the conference. It was my pleasure to be in such a town for just to draw. I am very glad proud to be invited by GAD Foundation. We know each other from Moscow. I think it’s a great institution, a foundation. It was so nice to be also invited such a famous place as a university, so I hope it will be interesting for somebody, this is what I expect. In fact, what I like to do is sharing my experiences and recognizing for all architecture in different places. What to say about Istanbul… I love this town. I would come anytime because I think this town is wonderful.
Sergei Tchoban is a well-known name of Russian architecture and real estate sector. He is also the founder of a museum and a foundation in Berlin with the structure built by himself named Tchoban Foundation. We know him through our ‘Development Research and Valuation of Architecture and Settlement Culture Educational Foundation’ (GADEV). Sergei Tchoban was involved in Arch Moscow and Moscow Urban Forum organizations, which was held in Moscow. This time, we hosted him. Establishing international relations is a responsibility of our foundation. During Sergei Tchoban conference; students, business people; partners and producers from this industry were widely interested in this event. This motivated us to develop more contacts, relationships and organize more events.
Sergei Tchoban; reflecting his educational background on painting to his architecture, he has become an architect who makes a difference, whose projects could be viewed as they were a piece of art observing all the details of specially chosen ornaments maybe for hours, and an artist who crowned his success by receiving Europe’s highest architecture award called European Prize for Architecture this year. He brought honor to this conference with his presence organized by the GAD Foundation. We, as Schüco Turkey, are very pleased to participate in this organization as a sponsor that brought architects, contractors, press members, also precious participants together.
To date, we have been a source for the transfer of this refined information by having so many names in our pages as our guests. Sergei Tchoban has become the last name for now. We are very pleased and honored to be a part of this event. We would like to
express our gratitude to the participants consisting of students, architects and sector representatives; the GAD Foundation, and the event sponsor SCHÜCO for the conference. Our effort will increasingly continue to share ideas, knowledge, and experiences, and strive to create synergies by bringing different stakeholders together.