The paper architecture of Brodsky and Utkin


A Hill with a Hole.

Searching around for Kafka images yesterday turned up a reminder of the etchings of Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin, a pair of Russian “Paper Architects” who channelled their frustration with the intransigence of Soviet authorities in the 1980s into a series of remarkable drawings. As with much architectural fantasy, these are part unrealistic exaggeration and part serious proposal, with the viewer left to decide whether the world really needs a hill with a hole.

Princeton Architectural Press published Brodsky & Utkin: The Complete Works by Lois Nesbitt in 2003 which is no doubt the source of the available scans. Of those, there’s a small Flickr collection here, while the late, lamented Nonist had a post about the book which repeats some of the same imagery. For more about Russia’s other paper architects see Russian Utopia.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The etching and engraving archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of François Schuiten
Hugh Ferriss and The Metropolis of Tomorrow

3 thoughts on “The paper architecture of Brodsky and Utkin”

  1. Great stuff – had forgotten about this.

    At the risk of giving Anatomy of Norbiton a shameless plug, we note here ( (talking of Étienne-Louis Boullée) that the greatest architecture is built in two-dimensions. That’s probably putting it a bit strongly, but a blank sheet of paper of course eliminates such constraints on imagination as context, structural soundness and utility. And if what you get in return (as here is a sort of geometry or anyway structure of despair, then perhaps that says something about big architectural projects per se.

  2. Hi Toby. Some of my favourite architecture exists on paper only–from Piranesi, Boullée, Hugh Ferriss, François Schuiten and others–so I certainly agree with the principle. I’d also suggest film as the other great medium, film can give a similar vicarious thrill without having to worry about how you’d build such things or whether it would be desirable to do so.

  3. Boullée immediately comes to mind ! I’m ordering this book right now, how could I pass such a thing ? Thanks a lot for another great discovery.

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