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Final Public Oral Exam of Masha Panteleyeva

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Princeton University School of Architecture Announces
The Final Public Oral Exam of Masha Panteleyeva
“Re-Forming the Socialist City: Form and Image in the Work of the Soviet Experimental Group NER, 1960–1970”
 Friday, June 22, 2018, 11:30am
S118, Architecture Building
Lucia Allais, advisor
Spyros Papapetros
Jean-Louis Cohen (Princeton, NYU)
Ana Miljaki (MIT)
Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen (Yale)

This dissertation explores the relationship between architectural form and social theory through a study of the work of the Soviet unofficial architectural group NER (New Element of Settlement) which was formed in an atmosphere of conflicting control and liberation during the period of the Thaw after Stalin’s death. The uninhibited use of architectural form in NER’s drawings undeniably reflects the creative freedom experienced in the 1960s, yet their work also reveals a complex layering of ideological, socio-political, and stylistic references to socialism as a state-sponsored political system. This dissertation addresses the paradoxical coexistence of the notion of creative freedom with more overtly politicized themes in this architecture, especially as designers were charged with addressing the needs of the state and national production. I hypothesize that this balance was possible due to NER’s methodological ability to experiment with form by creating legible images and by taking the idea of a socialist city as a design problem. While in most architectural histories the post-Stalin transition towards political openness is examined from techno-economic perspectives, its expression of social order through urban form and its representation has never been sufficiently investigated. I argue that through their idea of stratification of urban space aligned with a city’s function as a social organism (rather than an economic one) and with self-governing cultural life at its heart, NER outlined a new social function of architecture—and a neoformal paradigm of urban socialism at large.