Anna Bokov on the “Science” of Archi­tecture at Vkhutemas

Talk, in English, 5 April 2018

In 1927 a group of Soviet Rationalist architects established a “psychotechnical laboratory” at the Higher Art and Technical Studios in Moscow, an interdisciplinary design school known as Vkhutemas (Вхутемас). The goal was to develop “scientific” and “experimentally verified” approaches to architectural pedagogy and design in tandem with Nikolay Ladovsky’s foundational course Space. The laboratory was filled with instruments to test the spatial and visual aptitude of the future architects; its walls, floor, and ceiling were painted black. The testing methods deployed at Vkhutemas aimed to respond to the Soviet Union’s need for rapid industrial development and were influenced by theories of psychology, perception, and industrial optimization developed by scientists such as Hugo Münsterberg at the Harvard Experimental Psychology Laboratory and others. Looking at this confluence of scientific and “scientistic” interests, and its translation through time, space, and politicized cultures, offers a case study of an influential encounter between science and architecture.

The Lab Test series critically examines case studies of architectural institutions inspired by scientific movements, and the projects and ideas produced by them. It accompanies the exhibition Lab Cult: An unorthodox history of interchanges between science and architecture.

Anna Bokov is a design director at Terreform ONE and teaches at The Cooper Union and at Cornell University. Previously, she practiced as an architect and urban designer in Europe and the United States.

Related exhibition

Related events


Sign up to get news from us

Email address
First name
Last name
By signing up you agree to receive our newsletter and communications about CCA activities. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, consult our privacy policy or contact us.

Thank you for signing up. You'll begin to receive emails from us shortly.

We’re not able to update your preferences at the moment. Please try again later.

You’ve already subscribed with this email address. If you’d like to subscribe with another, please try again.

This email was permanently deleted from our database. If you’d like to resubscribe with this email, please contact us

Please complete the form below to buy:
[Title of the book, authors]
ISBN: [ISBN of the book]
Price [Price of book]

First name
Last name
Address (line 1)
Address (line 2) (optional)
Postal code
Email address
Phone (day) (optional)

Thank you for placing an order. We will contact you shortly.

We’re not able to process your request at the moment. Please try again later.

Folder ()

Your folder is empty.

Please complete this form to make a request for consultation. A copy of this list will also be forwarded to you.

Your contact information
First name:
Last name:
Phone number:
Notes (optional):
We will contact you to set up an appointment. Please keep in mind that your consultation date will be based on the type of material you wish to study. To prepare your visit, we'll need:
  • — At least 2 weeks for primary sources (prints and drawings, photographs, archival documents, etc.)
  • — At least 48 hours for secondary sources (books, periodicals, vertical files, etc.)