Nikolai Ladovskii’s (1881–1941) so-called ‘psychoanalytical’ method of architectural pedagogy has attracted and puzzled architectural historians. The first ‘left’, radically modernist approach to architecture at the Moscow VKhUTEMAS (Higher Art and Technical Studios) in the early 1920s, it shaped the students’ understanding of the discipline due to Ladovskii’s control over introductory courses. 1 Not a prolific writer, Ladovskii preferred to disseminate his ideas through immediate contact and conversation. Alongside publications by his associates (most notably, Nikolai Dokuchaev, 1891–1944), documents related to Ladovskii’s pedagogical activity offer the best insight into the theory of Rationalism, a movement centered around the Association of New Architects (ASNOVA). What was the theoretical premise and the goal of Ladovskii’s teaching? And how, if at all, was it connected to Freudian psychoanalysis? At first sight it might seem that, defined as’ a discrete and consecutive (according to complexity) study of formal regularities of artistic forms, their elements and qualities on the basis of the physiology of perception’, Ladovskii’s psychoanalytical (sometimes called simply analytical) method had little to do with Freudianism. 2 However, although the architect indeed could hardly be described as a follower of Freud, I would argue that the similarity in the names of the two theories was more than a coincidence: Ladovskii’s method drew upon a rich discourse of the unconscious that had been pertinent to modern European culture. In what follows, I will scrutinise the origins of Ladovskii’s method in order to assess how in his theory – exemplary of the whole of modernist architectural thought – unconscious visual perception was subjected to the principle of economy. As a result, it was estranged from the subject and incorporated into the totalising social system predicated upon the relationships of production. Exploring the interplay between the conscious and the unconscious, Ladovskii and his followers created an ideological instrument that operated not through overtly expressed messages or directives, but though constructing that part of reality which usually remained beyond ideology’s reach: the bodily, unconscious perception of physical properties of architecture.