Article by Dmitry Ostroumov, head of Prohram Studio, for the “Industrial and Civil Construction” magazine, 04/2023

The Zodchestvo festival, organized by the Union of Architects of Russia, celebrated its 30th anniversary in the fall of 2022. The theme of the 30th festival was "Reflection." Curator Alexei Komov noted in his manifesto that architecture is a mirroring echo of world civilization. Reflection is an endless interaction between material and spiritual, between man and nature, and between architects and their creations.

Since 2020, church architecture has been presented in the competition, and since 2022, it has been included in the business program of the festival. A temple always reflects a culture that synthesizes art and spirituality expressed in the language of a symbol. This environment preserves centuries-old traditions, cultural codes, and established images of religious art. At the same time, this environment is in constant interaction with a person, and it has to speak to him or her in an understandable language. A temple is not only the house of God but also a sacred space, partly recreational. Like a tuning fork, it tunes up the consciousness and feelings, purifying the human soul and feeding it with goodness, love, and inspiration.

Architects and artists bring the best fruits of their creativity to the making of such a space. A place of worship becomes an image of the culture of a particular place or time. It absorbs the key semantic paradigms of people's religious beliefs. Over time, the image of the temple also dictates values and images of eternity and spirit to future generations. This is where matter and spirit come together.
Today, many religious buildings are being designed, but do they speak to a person in an understandable language? Do they create a comfortable environment that nourishes the soul? Can a person simply come there to sit and think, to come to a more conscious, elevated state? Do they work as true social complexes with all the necessary functional areas? Is their image interesting, being the fruit of genuine art, or is it just a set of visual quotes from the past? What is the general direction of the development of church architecture? These and other related issues were discussed during the symposium as part of the “Zodchestvo 2022” festival’s business program.
The symposium "Churches and sacred spaces. Modern solutions and tradition," organized by the Expert Council on Church Architecture of the Union of Architects of Russia, the Guild of Church Builders, and the Prohram Studio (curated by Dmitry Ostroumov). Leading church architects and artists gave presentations that contributed to a very interesting discussion. There is an inspiring tendency towards the development of the theoretical thought of the masters involved in church art. Their presentations show that this trend does not stand still but is developing within the tradition.

The architects made a number of presentations. Archpriest Andrei Yurevich spoke about the experience of the program for the construction of 200 churches in Moscow. Using the example of his projects, Mikhail Mamoshin showed a modern interpretation of tradition and canon. Kirill Yakovlev presented small architectural forms in church spaces. Dmitry Borunov touched upon the important topic of temple consciousness in the modern world. Deacon Roman Muraviev proposed vertical zoning structures for church complexes in dense urban areas. Dmitry Ostroumov examined the structure and logic of the integration of sacred spaces into the urban environment. The artists Anna Verdi and Valentin Borisenko shared their practical experience in the artistic decoration of temple interiors and the ideas that guide their work. After the reports, the symposium participants discussed both practical and general questions. It was decided to continue working in a similar format next year.

One can note the diversity of the projects presented at the festival. With a few projects, when a section on church architecture was organized in 2020, there is now a visible tendency towards an interesting development of temple architecture. But there is also some conservatism, when only the architectural quotes from the past tend to be copied. Many attempts to develop architecture based on tradition are indeed successful, as evidenced by the projects noted by the festival jury. However, there is also a reverse vector. Often, the authors' desire to introduce innovations does not produce positive results regarding the logic of the project, its visual image, layouts, etc.

In 2020, in the “Projects” category, the team of the Prohram Studio (Dmitry Ostroumov and Polina Askarova) was awarded gold and silver prizes for the projects of Saint Spyridon of Trimythous Church and the Holy Trinity Church.
In the “Buildings” category, Andrey Anisimov Studio was awarded a golden prize for the construction of All Valaam Saints Chapel. Creaive team: Andrey Anisimov, Bishop Pankratios of Troitsk, S. Vasiliev, D. Polovinkin, S. Kanterin, V. Raiberg, Yu. Pokhilyak, N. Taraskin, D. Gomboeva, V. Borisenko, O. Romanenko, and O. Perov. Yuri Kharitonov's creative team was awarded the silver prize for the construction of the Cathedral of Sophia of the Wisdom of God in Samara. Team members: V. Sonin, N. Kolodina, and A. Kuzin.
In 2021, in the “Projects” category, Mamoshin Architectural Studio was awarded the golden prize for the Project of the Bigger Descent of the Holy Spirit Church in Kolpino. Creative team: Mikhail Mamoshin, A. Bogatyreva, A. Mamoshin, E. Beketov, D. Grishko, E. Zalmunina, A. Smirnova, A. Fedchenko, and Yu. Khomyak. Prohram Studio was awarded the silver prize for the project of the Saint Nicholas and Saint Spyridon church complex in Kerch, Crimea, Feodosia Diocese. Creative team: Dmitry Ostroumov, Polina Askarova, and V. Sikorskaya.

In the “Buildings” category, Mamoshin Architectural Studio was awarded a golden prize for the Smaller Descent of the Holy Spirit Church in Kolpino. Creative team: M. Mamoshin, A. Bogatyreva, and A. Mamoshin. The jury awarded the silver prize to the Andrey Anisimov Studio for Our Lady of Kazan Hermitage Church on Valaam Island. Creative team: Andrey Anisimov, Bishop Pankratios of Troitsk, A. Menshova, S. Kanterin, O. Petrashko, N. Taraskin, D. Gomboeva, Yu. Pokhilyak, A. Mayorova, A. Verdi, D. Lazarev, K. Kamyshanov, and D. Nikitkova.
In 2022, in the “Projects” category, a golden prize was awarded to Andrey Anisimov Studio for the project of the Spiritual and Educational Center in Krasnodar. Prohram Studio was awarded a silver prize for the project of the Holy Passion-Bearing Princes Boris and Gleb Church.
In the “Buildings” category, the project of the Sretenskie Architectural Studio, the main temple of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ), received a golden prize “for interior solutions, decoration, and synthesis of arts.”

A silver prize was awarded to the “New Architecture” Studio for the Saint George the Victorious Church in Bryukhovetskaya village, Krasnodar Region. Both awards for these projects caused discussions in the professional community.
In addition to the business program and the competition, the Guild of Church Builders presented at “Zodchestvo 2022” the installation “The Image of the Light.”
Architecture has always been a sacred craft. It contains and reflects the highest archetypes of the universe, culture, and the life of society. The architects have always tried to reflect the principles of the world order and philosophical categories. This gave rise to sacred architecture. The architects’ projects always strive for the highest ideal, a single archetype of a temple created by God Himself. But they have different forms of expression and composition. The rhythm, accents, dominants, interweaving spaces, and architectonics vary, too. This is because the visible world around us is the sphere where this highest ideal manifests itself and expresses itself through the creativity of the architect.
Architect, Master of Theology, head of the Prohram Studio. Member of the Unions of Architects of Russia and Belarus. Member of the Guild of Church Builders and the Council on Church Architecture of the Union of Architects of Russia