The beginnings of the ICIF date from a 10-day Mediterranean competition-cruise in June 1988 on board the Soviet liner “Leo Tolstoy”. Entitled «The Space of Civilization in the ХХI Century», this event was organized by the International Academy of Architecture (IAA) and the International Forum of Young Architects (IFYA) with the support of the USSR Union of the Architects. The main prizes of the competition, which included 300 young architects from 35 countries, were four books of Iakov Chernikhov’s architectural fantasies, presented from the personal archives of the architect Andrey Chernikhov, director of the IFYA program.
In1989 Andrey Chernikhov, with the assistance of architecture professor Catherine Cooke (Cambridge, UK), offered at the Sotheby’s «Russian avant-garde» auction six of Iakov Chernikhov’s architectural fantasies. This charity donation served as the financial basis for organizing the Iakov Chernikhov Foundation.

The International Architectural Foundation named after the Soviet architect, graphic artist and pedagogue Iakov Chernikhov (1889-1951) — the first such charitable architecture foundation in Russia — was instituted in 1991 at the initiative of the IFYA (President — Marcos Bargilli, Cyprus; General secretary — Georgy Stanishev, Bulgaria) and the MAA (President – Georgy Stoilov, Bulgaria) with the support of the USSR Union of the Architects (President Yury Platonov). Subsequent foundation sponsors included the German Museum of Architecture (Frankfurt-on-Main), the airline «Deutche Lufthansa», and the architectural school of the University of Michigan (USA). National centers of the ICIF opened in Bulgaria, the USA and Russia.

The ICIF defined the following basic direction: the support of experimental, educational and research works in the field of innovative architecture and town planning; the encouragement of the innovative architectural concepts and initiatives by young architects throughout the world; the organization and conducting of architectural competitions and exhibitions of Iakov Chernikhov and Russian avant-garde; and the support of the children’s architectural creative work in Russia.

Foundation donors include:

  • Andrey Chernikhov
  • Helen Stamo
  • Marina Chernikhova (Moscow)
  • Helen Chernikhova (St.Petersburg, Russia)
  • Yulia Chernikhova (Pavlograd, Ukraine)
  • Zinaida Grek, (Cologne)
  • Leonid Lamm (New York)