Deutsches Architekturmuseum presents a unique collection of designs for Soviet cosmonautics, including plans and engineering drawings for Soyuz capsules and the space stations Salyut and Mir. Balashova worked as a consultant to the Buran programme, the Soviet counterpart to the American Space Shuttle. Striving for both harmony and beauty, the architect strikes an emotional chord in the high-tech world that includes carrier rockets, laboratories and survival equipment. It is therefore owing to Balashova’s talent that an important chapter has been added to Soviet architectural history: Architecture for Cosmonautics. Her exceptional creative work, including designs for medals and emblems, is still scarcely known today – even in Russia. Allow yourself to be transported by Galina Balashova into a world of architecture in which the forces of gravity give way to anti-gravity.
DESIGN FOR THE SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMME
Galina Balashova, Architect
June 27 — November 15, 2015
at Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM)
Schaumainkai 43, 60596
Frankfurt/Main Ground Floor
LIFE AND WORK
Galina Balashova was born near Moscow in 1931. Her career started out in the year 1955 in what is today known as Samara. Balashova was initially assigned the task of ridding residential building designs of decorative elements, such as stucco and sculptures. This training was to be useful to Balashova in her subsequent career since, following marriage and a move back to Moscow, she accepted a position at OKB- 1, where the success of Sputnik was still being celebrated. First, Balashova designed residential buildings for the employees of the Design Bureau. In 1963, the space pioneer Sergei Korolev invited the only architect in his company to propose designs for the living area of Soyuz spacecraft still in the planning phase. Since the colleagues working in her department were overwhelmingly made up of engineers, Balashova soon emerged as the creative mastermind behind the Soviet space programme, albeit with one restriction: her drawings remained top secret until her retirement in 1991.
Space travel and the rocket technology associated with it remained a top priority in the Soviet Union. With the start of the first manmade space satellite Sputnik that took place in 1957 and, even more so, the first manned space flight undertaken by Yuri Gagarin four years later, the Cold War entered a new dimension: a race began between both political systems to achieve supremacy in space, since space travel set the benchmark for social performance and progressiveness. Along with military and political aspects, the main focus was on mankind’s ancient dream of overcoming spatial boundaries and conquering the sky. The unprecedented enthusiasm surrounding space during the cosmological epoch is manifest in the futuristic repertoire of Soviet architecture – together with its visually stunning motifs which took the place of religion – as well as the deification of its many protagonists, such as for instance Yuri Gagarin, Sergei Korolev and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.
In parallel with the successes of cosmonautics as part of the rivalry between East and West, an overarching theme for iconographic buildings from the Pacific to the Baltic became apparent: metro stations interpreting the theme of cosmonautics; residential buildings whose gable façades are richly adorned with propaganda motifs related to space research; hotels taking the form of an entire spacecraft. The vivid architectural style was similarly shown to advantage in rocket science research institutes which were closed off from public view. These include, for example, the buildings on the premises of the Cosmonaut Training Centre situated in Zvyozdny Gorodok, the Mission Control Centre in Korolev or the buildings at Baikonur Cosmodrome. Colourful mosaics, filigree glass walls and expressive reliefs make the civil engineering and utility structures of space travel real architectural gems, whose architectural standard persists in the interiors.
This monograph on the work of the Russian architect Galina Balashova presents a unique collection of designs for Soviet cosmonautics. These include plans and engineering drawings for Soyuz capsules and the space stations Salyut and Mir. Balashova acted as a consultant to the Buran programme, the Soviet counterpart to the American Space Shuttle. Striving for harmony and beauty, the architect strikes an emotional chord in the high-tech world of carrier rockets, laboratories and survival equipment. It is therefore due to Balashova‘s talent that a unique chapter has been added to Soviet architectural history: Architecture for Cosmonautics.
News source: DAM