The House of Design Organizations

Years of construction



4, Freedom Square

The House of Design Organizations

The architect’s heritage is determined by his projects, with high-quality buildings becoming the gems among his works. Sometimes an architect analyses everything he built and determines the most successful work by himself. So, Serhii Savych Serafimov noted in his Performance Report that the State Industry House (Derzhprom) in Kharkiv is interesting work, but the House of Design Organizations is the most successful one.  The building was designed in 1929 to accommodate the biggest project and construction institutions of the Ukrainian Republic. In fact, the House of Design Organization in Kharkiv initiated a new type of buildings intended for design and research institutions.  The project of S. Serafimov and M.O. Zandberh-Serafimova won the competition in a tough fight. The matter was that the project of the most famous Soviet architects of that time, the Vesnins brothers, was ranked next. Their project was totally innovative, there was no ground floor and the building had to face the square as a solid glass wall. The shortage of their building was absolute disagreement of the solution with the Derzhprom.  The Serafimovs’ project, on the contrary, created a uniform ensemble with the Derzhprom, supporting a single rhythm of architectural masses. The masses of the House of Projects rhythmically increase towards the middle of the building, getting ready for the main accent ― the main 14-storey block. This block visually cut the building in two, as it was united with the side blocks by means of narrow glass parts which were illuminated by the sun from the south and created the transparency effect.  Unlike the laconic solution of the Derzhprom, the House of Projects had enough details that were very well emphasized while remaining functional elements of modernist architecture, thus making the building look sophisticated.  This beautiful building was not lucky: its main block was hit by a bomb during World War II, that destroyed the rear facade and caused the fire. Given that the floors of the building were wooden, the interior structures were significantly damaged. In addition, for quick reconstruction of the Derzhprom in 1943–1944, the necessary elements and mechanisms were disassembled from the damaged House of Projects. When the building was transferred to Kharkiv University after World War II, it represented only a ruined reinforced concrete frame.  Restoration of the building was planned in the style of a post-war Art Deco. The concept of this style was based on the idea that the nation that won that terrible war would live high and luxuriantly. According to the plan, Kharkiv University had to transform into a reduced copy of Moscow University on Lenin Hills.  The upbuilding competition was announced and held in the House of Architects in Moscow, and the head judge was Yosyf Stalin. According to legend, the Kharkiv team was invited to the competition “for the sake of propriety”, but they even did not take off the cloth from the layout made by that team. Stalin drew attention to the only layout that was covered, and when it was uncovered, they saw a transparent layout of the future building with a figure of Stalin on the top. The transparent layout of plexiglass was a very innovative discovery of Kharkiv architects and attracted considerable attention, although they decided to remove the figure of the helmsman.  The reconstruction project that was eventually assigned to the team of architects of Kharkiv Diprovuz (Soviet State Institute for Designing the Higher Educational Institutions) composed of I.D. Yermylova, I.Ya. Zhylkina, N.K. Komirnyi, V.P. Kostenko, V.I. Livshyts and V.I. Lipkyn, was repeatedly reworked. In 1956, the fight “with embellishment” started and showy architecture of the original project was gradually simplified. But the building acquired its modern look in 1959, when Khrushchov visited Kharkiv and ordered to restore the buildings of Kharkov Square “as they looked originally”, thus the building of Kharkiv University lost its hip-roofed completion. So today we can see a poor mixture, with the features of the House of Projects hidden in the body of the new building of Kharkov University, forcedly beheaded to resemble the House of Projects.

Reference information

House of design organizations / Scientific institution / Karazin Kharkiv National University

Serafimov S., Kravets S., Felger M., engineer  Rottert P. / 1930-1934 / 4, Freedom Square

Educational and scientific institution/ Constructivism, Influence of European Modern architecture

Monuments of architecture /  Reconstructed


Romanticism of Industrial Revolution

Influence of classical art


Art Deco

Influence of Ukrainian folk architecture

Influence of European Modern architecture