The Utopia of Personality: Moisei Ginzburg’s Project for the Moscow Park of Culture and Leisure

  • Alla Vronskaya State Institute of Art Studies


This article focuses on Moisei Ginzburg’s competition entry for the Central Park of Culture and Leisure in Moscow (1931), assessing its nature as a utopian landscape. It demonstrates how the program of the project emerged from the debates on modernist town planning as an attempt to adapt ideas developed in the course of these debates to existing urban context. Emerging prior to the rest of the modernist urban environment, the park assumed the role of representing the settlement of the future within the city of the past, while simultaneously forming a part and parcel of the urban system to come. It was both inscribed into the modernist system of the zonal division of the city as the recreation zone and itself divided into separate zones, becoming a miniature model of an ideal modernist city of the future. The project was based on the principles of “disurbanism,” an approach to town planning, which Ginzburg earlier developed in his project of the Green City near Moscow (1930). Following the theoretician of disurbanism Mikhail Okhitovich, Ginzburg declared the individual (rather than the family or the group) the basic unit of society, and consequently, personal development became the major mission that his park was to perform. As a result, the Park of Culture and Leisure became not a site, but a mechanism of personal and urban transformation.


Barshch, M. O. & Ginzburg, M. Ya. (1930). “Zelenyi gorod” [“Green City”]. In Sovremennaya Arkhitektura, 1–2, pp. 17–38.
Cohen, J.-L. (1981). Le Corbusier and the Mystique of the U. S. S. R. In Oppositions, 23, pp. 84–121.
Cohen, J.-L. (1992). Le Corbusier and the Mystique of the USSR: Theories and Projects for Moscow 1928–1936. 254 p. Princeton, N. J., Princeton University Press.
Davis, T. (2008).The rise and decline of the American parkway. In The World Beyond the Windshield : Roads and Landscapes in the United States and Europe (pp. 35–58). Columbus, Ohio University Press.
Foucault, M. (1986). Of Other Spaces. In Diacritics, 16/1 (Spring), pp. 22–27.
Ginzburg, M. Ia. (1930b). Zelenyi Gorod – opyt sotsialisticheskogo rasselenia [Green City. Socialist Separation Experience]. In Stroitel’stvo Moskvy, 3, pp. 14–20.
Ginzburg, M. (1930a). Otvet Le Corbuzye [The response to Le Corbusier]. In Sovremennaya Arkhitektura, 1–2, pp. 61–62.
Ginzburg, M. (1927). Sovremennaya arkhitektura desyatiletiyu oktyabrya : Itogi i perspektivy [For the Tenth Anniversary of the October Revolution : Results and Prospects]. In Sovremennaya arkhitektura, 4–5, pp. 111–118.
Glan, B. (1932). Za sotsialisticheskiy park [For a Socialist Park]. In Za Sotsialisticheskii Park: Obzor Proektov General’nogo Plana Tsentral’nogo Parka Kul’tury I Otdykha Mossoveta. Moscow, Izd-vo Mosoblispolkoma.
Kelly, C., Volkov, V. V. (1998). Directed Desires: Kul’turnost’ and Consumption. In Constructing Russian Culture in the Age of Revolution, 1881–1940 (pp. 291–313). Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Kucher, K. (2007). Der Gorki-Park: Freizeitkulturim Stalinismus 1928–1941. 330 p. Köln, Böhlau.
Lam, E. (2011). Wilderness Nation: Building Canada’s Railway Landscapes, 1885–1929. [PhD. dissertation]. 505 p. Columbia University.
Lavrov, V. (1929). Park kultury i otdykha v Moskve po proektam diplomnikov VKhUTEINa [Moscow Park of Culture and Rest in the Diploma Projects of VKhUTEIN Students]. In Stroitel’stvo Moskvy, 10, pp. 13–18.
Le Corbusier (1991). Precisions: On the present state of architecture and city planning. 284 p. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.
Le Corbusier (1973). The Athens Charter. 111 p. N. Y., Grossman.
Lunacharskii, A. V. (1923). Osnovy pozitivnoi estetiki [Foundations of Positive Aesthetics]. 134 p. Moscow, Petrograd, Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo.
Lunts, L. (1932). Opisanye proektov general’nogo plana tsentral’nogo parka kul’tury i otdykha Mossoveta [A Description of Projects of the General Plan of the Central Park of Culture and Leisure of Mossovet]. In Za Sotsialistichesky Park: Obzor Proektov General’nogo Plana Tsentral’nogo Parka Kul’tury I Otdykha Mossoveta (pp. 28–29). Moscow, Izd-vo Mosoblispolkoma.
Lunts, L. B. (1935). Parki kultury i otdykha [Parks of Culture and Rest]. 519 p. Moscow, Gosstroiizdat.
Okhitovich, M. (1930). Zametki po teorii rasseleniya [Notes on the Theory of Separation]. In Sovremennaya Arkhitektura, 1–2, pp. 7–16.
Universal Modernization Patent “Social Condenser” (1982). (2004). In Content (p. 73). Köln, Taschen.
Volkov, V. V. (1999). The Concept of kul’turnost’: Notes on Stalinist Civilising Process. In Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s (pp. 210–230). N. Y., Oxford University Press.
Volkov, V. V. (1996). Kontseptsiya kul’turnosti. 1935–1938 gody. Sovetskaya tsivilizatsiya i povsednevnost’ stalinskogo vremeni [The Concept of Kul’turnost’. 1935–1938. Soviet Civilization and the Everyday Life of Stalin’s Time]. In Sotsiologicheskiy zhurnal, 1–2, pp. 194–213.
Zhirov, M. (1929). Park kul’tury i otdykha [Park of Culture and Leisure]. In Sovremennaya Arkhitektura, 5, pp. 172–175.
How to Cite
Vronskaya, A. (2015). The Utopia of Personality: Moisei Ginzburg’s Project for the Moscow Park of Culture and Leisure. Quaestio Rossica, (4), 40-56.
Vox redactoris