Spiritual City Fantasy and Fiction in Architectural Process

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Spiritual City Fantasy and Fiction in Architectural Process

Spiritual City Fantasy and Fiction in Architectural Process

Architecture and environment of each era are born out of of social conceptions and form- shaping fantasies. A real city is always preceded by the spiritual one, which manifests itself in many forms, such as a shining paradise, a world metropolis or a garden town. As Bruno Taut wrote, “The greatest buildings are always derived from the greatest thoughts”. The Conference will discuss the emergence of architectural images and ideas and their way towards either fantastic realms or everyday practice. Of special interest are the cases of those fantasies that have had a lasting impression on the real architecture.

The examples would be Atlantis by Plato, Mount Meru of Hinduism, Classical themes depicted  in Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, architectural utopias by Giovanni Battista Piranesi and John Soane, glass worlds by Paul Scheerbart and Bruno Taut, world exhibitions and model villages, garden cities and cosmic dwellings.

Main topics:

  • Relations between fantasy, fiction and practice in the architectural processes from the Renaissance till now. 
  • Images of the Spiritual City: unattainable Utopian ideal, the vehicle of the social progress, the realm of the new architecture. 
  • Transitional states of architectural mind, such as capriccio and painted fantasies (Hans Fredeman de Fries, Jean Louis Deprez), architecture of other worlds (Robert Fludd, Athanasius Kircher), mystical ideas provoking architectural novelties (Rudolph Steiner, Alexander Scriabin, Baha’i temples), experimental albums (Bruno Taut, Yakov Tchernikhov), developed Utopian projects (Claude Nicola Ledoux, Georgy Krutikov). 
  • Light and shadows of the Utopian world: ideal humans bred up by the ideal architecture (Charles Fourier, Le Corbusier), horror and decline of the artificial city (Vladimir Odoevsky, Alfred Kubin).
  • The struggle of utopias: garden city versus “house of 1000 storeys”; urbanism versus desurbanism; old good world versus high-tech dwelling.
  • Variety of the architectural fantasies: myth and literature, travelogues and social programs, children books and mass posters, paper architecture and illustrated journals, landscape projects and theatre decorations, cinema and television. 
  •  Influential images, processes and personalities in the realm of architectural fantasy (novels by Paul Scheerbart, garden projects for St.-Petersburg by Alexander Leblond, Cathedral of Christ the Savior by Alexander Witberg, Krestovsky Island by Alexander Nikolsky).

Young academics section: presentations by BA and MA students are moderated and limited to 20 minutes. Certificates of participation will be provided to all speakers. Best papers will be recommended for publication. There is no registrations fee at the conference. The organizers do not cover travel and accommodation expenses. The organizing committee reserves the right to select applications and articles for publication.

The working languages of the conference are Russian and English. Time limit for the presentation is up to 20 minutes.

The format of the conference (in-person, online or mixed) will be determined in March 2021.

A collection of articles will be published, indexed by the RSCI, Russian Science Citation Index.


  • Dr. Boris Sokolov, Professor, Russian State University for the Humanities / Gardens and Time (
  • Dr. Lyudmila Limanskaya, Professor, Chair, Art Theory and History, Russian State University for the Humanities
  • Dr. Elena Klyushina, Associate Professor, Russian State University for the Humanities.

Application deadline: March 1, 2021

Board decision: March 15, 2021

Apply: Prof. Boris Sokolov with the subject “Spiritual City Conference“

Info and application form: application form.

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