Sergei Tchoban: Drawing a Museum of Drawings

Sergei Tchoban. Fantasy drawing. Museum for Architectural Drawing in Berlin.

Sergei Tchoban, Fantasy drawing, Museum for Architectural Drawing in Berlin.

Sergei Tchoban, a Russian-born architect working in Germany and founder of the Tchoban Foundation, is a passionate draftsman and a collector of historic architectural drawings. He studied at the Leningrad Secondary Art School and later at the architectural department of the Imperial Academy of Arts, formerly known as the Ilya Repin Institute of the Russian Academy of Arts. Unique in the world, Berlin's new Museum for Architectural Drawing, designed by Tchoban and Sergey Kuznetsov (SPEECH office), brings some of the finest 20th and 21st century architectural drawings together in a building provocatively tattooed with its own drawings. The development of the museum and its collection is the topic of Tchoban's lecture.

While just a generation ago the acquisition of skill in drawing was still fundamental to the formation of architects, such skills are contested today whether in architectural instruction or in professional practice. In the 21st century, virtually no architect seeks to persuade clients of her capacities as a designer by means of sketches or perspective views. A hand drawing, for example, is not required for the realization of a project. Yet, even now, the development and training of the ability to invent forms and communicate architectural ambitions flows through ideas that are conveyed via the drawing hand. Talent and training were the pillars upon which the art of drafting rested well into the 20th century. It is at this point that the Tchoban Foundation intervenes to sustain and reawaken an interest in architectural drawing.

A second aim of the foundation is to raise public awareness of the imaginative world of the architectural drawing through events and exhibitions. Hence the decision to erect a new museum building on the Pfefferberg in Berlin-Mitte devoted exclusively to preserving and displaying hand-drawn representations of architectural ideas. The Tchoban Foundation owns hundreds of drawings by leading international architects of the 20th and 21st centuries. The foundation juxtaposes contemporary architectural drawings with works by exceptional architects of the past; at the same time keeping the tradition of the hand drawing alive in our computer-driven present. Both areas of the collection are presented in the museum and in the exhibition on display at Cornell AAP.

Tchoban's lecture on September 9 concludes with a round-table discussion involving professors Jeffrey Chusid, Aleksandr Mergold, and Mark Morris.