ArchDaily | Broadcasting Architecture Worldwidethe world's most visited architecture website

Socialist Modernism on Your Smartphone: This Research Group is Raising Funds for a Crowdsourcing Mobile App

07:10 - 25 September, 2016
Slovak Radio building, Bratislava, Slovakia. Built 1967-83. Architect: Štefan Svetko, Štefan Ďurkovič, Barnabáš Kissling. Photo by Dumitru Rusu. Image © BACU
Slovak Radio building, Bratislava, Slovakia. Built 1967-83. Architect: Štefan Svetko, Štefan Ďurkovič, Barnabáš Kissling. Photo by Dumitru Rusu. Image © BACU

Recent years have seen a rapidly increasing interest in the architecture of the former Soviet Union. Thanks to the internet, enthusiasts of architectural history are now able to discover unknown buildings on a daily basis, and with the cultural and historical break caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, each photograph of a neglected and decaying edifice can feel like an undiscovered gem. However, often it can be difficult to find more information about these buildings and to understand their place in the arc of architectural history.

That was the reason behind the creation of Socialist Modernism, a research platform started by BACU - Birou pentru Artă şi Cercetare Urbană (Bureau for Art and Urban Research) which "focuses on those modernist trends from Central and Eastern Europe which are insufficiently explored in the broader context of global architecture." Socialist Modernism already consists of a website on which BACU has cataloged a number of remarkable and little-known buildings. However, now the team is raising funds on Indiegogo's Generosity platform for the next step in their research project. With this money they hope to create an app on which users can add new sites and buildings to the database.

Bus stop in Tajikistan, built in the late 70s. Photo by Dumitru Rusu. Image © BACU 25 May Sportcenter, now the Sportsko rekreativno poslovni centar, Belgrade, Serbia. Built 1973-75. Architect: Ivan Antic. Photo by Dumitru Rusu. Image © BACU Housing complex, Manhattan, Wroclaw, Poland. Built 1968-1973. Architect: Jadwiga Hawrylak-Grabowska. Photo Dumitru Rusu. Image © BACU Public utilities building for telephone and postal services, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Built 1966-69. Architect: Vasile Mitreaphoto. Photo by Dumitru Rusu. Image © BACU +43

Chișinău Cast in Concrete: the Republic of Moldova's (Partially Abandoned) Soviet Legacy

04:00 - 16 September, 2016
Chișinău Cast in Concrete: the Republic of Moldova's (Partially Abandoned) Soviet Legacy, The Fashion Center (Centrul de Modă) by V. Zaharov, L. Gofman and G. Jinkin (1970s). Image © Roberto Conte
The Fashion Center (Centrul de Modă) by V. Zaharov, L. Gofman and G. Jinkin (1970s). Image © Roberto Conte

The Republic of Moldova, a landlocked country in the east of Europe bordered by Romania and Ukraine, declared independence from the USSR on the 27th August 1991 at the moment in which the Soviet Block was in the process of dissolution. As with many formerly Soviet cities, Chișinău—the capital of Moldova—continues to play host to a collection of built relics from this time. Roberto Conte, a Milan-based photographer, has captured a collection of the more magnificent abandoned architectural examples, along with those still in use, today.

The Fashion Center (Centrul de Modă) by V. Zaharov, L. Gofman and G. Jinkin (1970s). Image © Roberto Conte The "Romanita," or "Romashka," collective housing tower for small family units by Oleg Vronsky (1978-1986). Image © Roberto Conte Government parking (1978). Image © Roberto Conte The Cosmos Hotel by B. Banykin and Irina Kolbayeva (1983). Image © Roberto Conte +17

Photographer Raphael Olivier Explores the Suspended Reality of North Korea’s Socialist Architecture

09:30 - 8 September, 2016
Photographer Raphael Olivier Explores the Suspended Reality of North Korea’s Socialist Architecture, Ryugyong Hotel. Image © Raphael Olivier
Ryugyong Hotel. Image © Raphael Olivier

North Korea is one of the few countries still under communist rule, and probably the most isolated and unknown worldwide. This is a result of the philosophy of Juche – a political system based on national self-reliance which was partly influenced by principles of Marxism and Leninism.

In recent years though, the country has loosened its restrictions on tourism, allowing access to a limited number of visitors. With his personal photo series “North Korea – Vintage Socialist Architecture,” French photographer Raphael Olivier reports on Pyongyang’s largely unseen architectural heritage. ArchDaily interviewed Olivier about the project, the architecture he captured, and what he understood of North Korea’s architecture and way of life.

The Workers Party Foundation Monument . Image © Raphael Olivier Pyongyang International Cinema House. Image © Raphael Olivier Pyongyang Ice Rink . Image © Raphael Olivier Overpass. Image © Raphael Olivier +21

Architecture is Propaganda: How North Korea Turned the Built Environment into a Tool for Control

11:30 - 6 September, 2016
Architecture is Propaganda: How North Korea Turned the Built Environment into a Tool for Control, Workers' Party monument, a monument to the people showing the Hammer (builders), Sickle (farmers) and Paint Brush (scholars, an addition to the standard symbol of communism). Image © Alex Davidson
Workers' Party monument, a monument to the people showing the Hammer (builders), Sickle (farmers) and Paint Brush (scholars, an addition to the standard symbol of communism). Image © Alex Davidson

Architecture is propaganda. Throughout my two years of visiting and living in North Korea the country slowly revealed to me the details of this evolved and refined tool for totalitarian control of the country’s population. The West views the country with incredulity—surely this cannot be a functioning country where people lead “everyday lives?” Surely the country’s populace can’t possibly buy into this regime? But I assure you that they do. People have careers, they go to work on the bus, and those women crying over the death of their leader were doing so through their own initiative, if not out of genuine emotion. How is this possible? This is a carefully constructed regime which has, at its heart, an unprecedented understanding of how architecture and urbanism can influence and control people. Coming second only to the military on the list of party priorities, the design of the built environment has had an incalculable effect on reinforcing the ideologies of the North Korean regime and conveying these to the people.

A recent residential tower block, containing apartments for scientists and teachers. Image © Koryo Tours courtesy of Alex Davidson Arch of Triumph. Image © Alex Davidson Pyongyang's new science and technology center. Image © Koryo Tours courtesy of Alex Davidson The view from Kim Il Sung Square, in front of the Grand People's Study House, looking towards the Juche Tower. Image © Alex Davidson +22

Spotlight: Konstantin Melnikov

08:00 - 3 August, 2016
Spotlight: Konstantin Melnikov, Melnikov Residence (1929) / Konstantin Melnikov. Image © Denis Esakov
Melnikov Residence (1929) / Konstantin Melnikov. Image © Denis Esakov

Best known for the Rusakov Workers’ Club and his own house, Russian architect and painter Konstantin Melnikov (August 3rd, 1890 – November 28th, 1974) has only recently received his due, now more than forty years after his death. He spent much of the twentieth century shunned by the Soviet architectural establishment, having refused to capitulate to the increasingly conformist (and classicist) prescriptions of Stalinism. As a result, he was forced to end his career only a decade after it started, returning to his other avocation as a painter and leaving in his wake only a precious few completed works.

Discover the Grit and Glory of New Belgrade's Communist Architecture

09:30 - 2 July, 2016
Discover the Grit and Glory of New Belgrade's Communist Architecture, © Piotr Bednarski
© Piotr Bednarski

In the autumn of 2014, Piotr Bednarski, a Warsaw-based architectural photographer, visited the municipality of Novi Beograd (New Belgrade), a planned city built in 1948 which constitutes one of Belgrade Serbia’s 17 municipalities. There, he quickly fell in love with the gritty Communist-era architecture of the area. He writes:

In Warsaw, where I'm from, most of the residential buildings from the Communist era [have been] turned into kitschy, colorful blocks… Seeing the dense, raw and, desolate modernist architecture, and rediscovering the atmosphere of my childhood made me fall in love with Novi's neighborhood. I saw people from different social backgrounds living peacefully in one place.

Since that initial trip, Piotr has made multiple return visits to capture the city in a variety of thought-provoking ways, showing long span views of the city, the streetscape, and even the view from inside people’s apartments. He believes that there is much to uncover in Novi Beograd, and that his story with New Belgrade is not yet finished.

© Piotr Bednarski © Piotr Bednarski © Piotr Bednarski © Piotr Bednarski +33

A Soviet Utopia: Constructivism in Yekaterinburg

04:00 - 22 June, 2016
A Soviet Utopia: Constructivism in Yekaterinburg, Chekist Town (1929-1936). Image © Fyodor Telkov
Chekist Town (1929-1936). Image © Fyodor Telkov

Developed early on in the Soviet era, and fully subordinate to Soviet ideology, the Constructivist movement was intended to form the foundations of a brave new world. The introduction of the Five-Year Plans coincided with the time when Constructivism was adopted as the official architectural style in the USSR. These circumstances allowed many architects to implement daring projects across the entire Soviet Union, and the Urals became one of the biggest magnets.

In this article—written by Sasha Zagryazhsky, translated by Philipp Kachalin and with photographs by Fyodor Telkov—you can take a virtual tour of fourteen of Yekaterinburg's most significant Soviet Constructivist buildings.

Soyuzkhleb (1928-1929). Image © Fyodor Telkov General Post Office (1929-1934). Image © Fyodor Telkov Uraloblsovnarkhoz Dormitory (1930-1933). Image © Fyodor Telkov Chekist Town (1929-1936). Image © Fyodor Telkov +17

Melnikov and Moscow Workers’ Clubs: Translating Soviet Political Ideals into Architecture

09:40 - 13 June, 2016
Melnikov and Moscow Workers’ Clubs: Translating Soviet Political Ideals into Architecture, Dorhimzavod Club by the name of Frunze, 1929. Image © Denis Esakov
Dorhimzavod Club by the name of Frunze, 1929. Image © Denis Esakov

Konstantin Melnikov (August 3, 1890 – November 28, 1974) played a key role in shaping Soviet Architecture from the mid-twenties to mid-thirties, despite being independent from the Constructivists who dominated architecture at the time. Besides his well-known pavilion for the USSR at the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, Melnikov was famous in Moscow for his workers’ club building, for his own house, and for his bus garages.

With this recent photoset, photographer Denis Esakov (who is now looking for a publisher to produce a photobook featuring the full set of almost 600 images) has created a unique opportunity to explore – both inside and out – all 12 Melnikov projects that shaped Moscow’s Architecture during the Soviet Era.

Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, 1926. Image © Denis Esakov Gosplan Garage, 1936. Image © Denis Esakov Novo-Ryazanskii Bus Garage, 1929. Image © Denis Esakov Melnikov House, 1929. Image © Denis Esakov +56

The Strange Beauty of Soviet Sanatoria

04:00 - 31 March, 2016

Khoja Obi Garm is a Soviet sanatorium nestled high in the mountains of Tajikistan – a place known for its curative, radon-rich waters. When Maryam Omidi, a former journalist, visited in 2015 she was "blown away" by both the architecture and landscape: a enormous concrete, Brutalist block at the peak of a snow-capped mountain. She has since launched a Kickstarter campaign to develop a book of photographs exploring "the best sanatoriums" across the former Soviet Union.

© Dmitry Lookianov © Claudine Doury © Michal Solarski © Olya Ivanova +10

How a Soviet Governmental Residence, the K-2 Dacha, Became a "Manifestation of the Finnish Dream"

04:00 - 15 March, 2016
How a Soviet Governmental Residence, the K-2 Dacha, Became a "Manifestation of the Finnish Dream", The K-2 Dacha, St. Petersburg. Image © Egor Rogalev
The K-2 Dacha, St. Petersburg. Image © Egor Rogalev

In this article, which originally appeared in the Calvert JournalKsenia Litvinenko narrates the story of the K-2 Dacha – a governmental residence in St. Petersburg which sought to shrug off Russian Classicism and Soviet Modernism in favor of the principles of Finnish Modernism. Illustrated by photographs by Egor Rogalev and researched alongside Vladimir Frolov, this article examines a Modernist gem that you probably won't have heard of, or seen, before.

If you ever find yourself in St. Petersburg, take a taxi along the Pesochnaya embankment, far away from the polished attractions of the city centre. Sit back and watch the landscape changing on the other bank of the Malaya Nevka. Among the trees you will see the former dachas of Russian nobles, private residences of local officials and the buildings of the new elite, overlooking the river. This is the best and perhaps the only perspective from which to see the K-2 dacha.

© Egor Rogalev © Egor Rogalev © Egor Rogalev © Egor Rogalev +13

These Churches Are the Unrecognized Architecture of Poland's Anti-Communist "Solidarity" Movement

09:30 - 7 March, 2016
These Churches Are the Unrecognized Architecture of Poland's Anti-Communist "Solidarity" Movement

For nearly two millennia, European architecture was closely affiliated with and shaped by Christianity. Prior to the advent of Modernism, there was scarcely a style that was not promoted, or more likely defined, by the designs of churches. Such a hypothesis makes it difficult to imagine Medieval England outside the purview of Gothic Cathedrals, or Renaissance Italy as separate from its Basilicas. But with the Industrial Revolution and the economic and population growth that ensued, infrastructure and housing became the new symbols and necessities of cultural representation, finding their ultimate expression in the ease and simplicity of Modernism. The field of architecture, so long shaped and dominated by the church, had been subsumed by the changing concerns of a commercially driven society. Of course there were still churches being built, but the typology that once defined architecture in its ubiquity became novel and rare. Or so we’ve all been lead to believe.

Surprising as it might be, in the wake of World War II and under Soviet control, Poland built more churches than any other country in Europe. The majority were built in the 1980s, at a time when church construction was neither authorized nor forbidden, and as a result played a pronounced role in Cold War politics. The construction of these churches was a calculated affront to the proletariat-minded Modernism of the Soviets. In their project Architecture of the VII Day, Kuba Snopek, Iza Cichońska and Karolina Popera have sought to comprehensively document these Polish churches and the circumstances of their construction. Unique not only in how they defied the prefabrication and regularity of the Eastern Bloc, the churches were community-led endeavors that relied on local funding and input, long before these practices became buzzwords in 21st century architectural circles.

© Maciej Lulko © Maciej Lulko © Maciej Lulko © Maciej Lulko +78

Should the Ukrainian Capital "Erase its Soviet Past or Learn to Live With History?"

04:00 - 17 November, 2015
Should the Ukrainian Capital "Erase its Soviet Past or Learn to Live With History?", The Friendship of Nations Arch, Kyiv/Kiev. Image © Ryan Koopmans
The Friendship of Nations Arch, Kyiv/Kiev. Image © Ryan Koopmans

In a 'long view' piece for The Calvert Journal, Owen Hatherley tackles one of the most pressing cultural questions facing many former Soviet countries: should the Ukrainian capital of Kiev (or Kyiv) erase its Soviet past or learn to live with history? For a city which saw a popular revolution against "a grotesquely wealthy elite" last year, Kiev is developing a flourishing independent cultural scene. In this article Hatherley, who has taken part in the city's 2015 art biennial, expertly narrates the city's Soviet, post-Soviet and contemporary "oligarch-funded" architecture to ask: "if Soviet Ukraine can’t be wished away, what should be conserved, and what should be rejected?"

Belyayevo Forever: How Mid-Century Soviet Microrayons Question Our Notions of Preservation

10:30 - 14 November, 2015
Belyayevo, which was based on the example set by the Ninth Quarter of Cheryomushki. Image © Max Avdeev
Belyayevo, which was based on the example set by the Ninth Quarter of Cheryomushki. Image © Max Avdeev

What are the characteristics of preservation-worthy architecture? In his book "Belyayevo Forever: A Soviet Microrayon on its Way to the UNESCO List," Kuba Snopek finds uniqueness in the seemingly generic Belyayevo microrayon, and argues that in spite of its pattern-book design it is worthy of protection. In this excerpt from the book's first chapter, Snopek examines Belyayevo's predecessor - the Ninth Quarter of Cheryomushki, which was constructed in the 1950s as an experiment that would transform Soviet housing policy - finding it to be a place which challenges our preconceived notions about architectural heritage.

A foreigner’s first contact with Moscow might begin with Google Earth. Its virtual tour through Russia’s capital starts with a view of its radial-concentric plan: loops of circular roads radiating from the Kremlin are cut through with the straight lines of prospects (avenues) and streets leading from the center towards the outskirts. This general scheme is familiar to any European architect: many other cities have circular boulevards, straight avenues and ring roads.

Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev Belyayevo. Image © Max Avdeev +22

The Legacy of Dictatorial Architecture in our Cities

04:05 - 14 August, 2015
The Legacy of Dictatorial Architecture in our Cities, Moscow State University: one of the 'Seven Sisters'. Image © Tinou Bao
Moscow State University: one of the 'Seven Sisters'. Image © Tinou Bao

For the latest edition of The UrbanistMonocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," the team travel to Moscow, Portugal and Hong Kong to examine how "architecture has always been the unfortunate sidekick of any dictatorial regime." In the process they ask what these buildings actually stand for, and explore the legacy of the architecture of Fascist, Imperial and Brutalist regimes from around the world today. From the Seven Sisters in Moscow to António de Oliveira Salazar's Ministry of Internal Affairs in Lisbon, this episode asks how colonial, dictatorial and power-obsessed architecture has shaped our cities.

Critical Round Up: OMA's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

09:30 - 18 June, 2015
Critical Round Up: OMA's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Timur Shabaev. Image © OMA
Timur Shabaev. Image © OMA

Founded in 2008 and named after the constructivist bus shelter that was its first, temporary home, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art is Russia's first private, non-profit art foundation. Relocating from a semi-industrial neighborhood on the northern edge of Moscow to Gorky Park, the Garage Museum's conversion of a Soviet era canteen and social club into Museum of Contemporary Art by OMA has so far been overshadowed by its more glamorous OMA counterpart which opened last month, the Milanese distillery conversion for Prada. Nevertheless, since opening last Friday the Garage Museum has attracted attention for Rem Koolhaas' shift towards preservation, something that has startled the critics. Find out more about what they thought after the break.

Yuri Palmin. Image © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art Yuri Palmin. Image © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art Yuri Palmin. Image © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art David X Prutting. Image © BFA.com +6

"Superstructure": 11 Projects That Defined Kiev's Soviet Modernism

10:30 - 29 March, 2015
"Superstructure": 11 Projects That Defined Kiev's Soviet Modernism, Pavilion "Transport", from the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy of USSR. Image Courtesy of Valentyn Shtolko
Pavilion "Transport", from the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy of USSR. Image Courtesy of Valentyn Shtolko

Around the globe, the post-war years were a period of optimism and extreme experimentation. On both sides of the cold war's ideological divide, this optimism found its greatest expression, architecturally speaking, in modernism - but of course, the particular circumstances of each city offered a unique spin on the modernist project. According to the curators of "Superstructure," an exhibition presented at Kiev's Visual Culture Research Center from January 28th to February 28th, the utopian architectural works of Kiev represented "an attempt to transform the city into the environment for materialization of artistic thinking – in contrast to the strict unification of city space by typical construction and residential blocks." Architects such as Edward Bilsky and Florian Yuriyev, often working in collaboration with artists such as Ada Rybachuk and Volodymyr Melnychenko attempted to create projects that were a complete synthesis of architecture and art - an approach to design that often didn't sit well with the Ukrainian authorities of the time.

Featuring research by Alex Bykov, Oleksandr Burlaka and Oleksiy Radynski, "Superstructure" examined the projects which were typical of this particular cultural moment in Kiev. After the break, we present this research, and a selection of images from the exhibition.

The Institute of information, model, 1971. Image © V. Zabolotnyj State Scientific Architecture and Construction Library Hotel "Salute". Image © O.Ranchukov 1987 Halls of Farewell. Image © O.Burlaka 2014 The Pioneers Palace, first option, 1960. Image Courtesy of Edward Bilsky +39

Why Putin Likes Columns: 21st Century Russia Through the Lens of Architecture

00:00 - 15 January, 2015
Why Putin Likes Columns: 21st Century Russia Through the Lens of Architecture, Rendering of the proposed Lakhta Center in St Petersburg. Image Courtesy of www.proektvlahte.ru
Rendering of the proposed Lakhta Center in St Petersburg. Image Courtesy of www.proektvlahte.ru

In August 1932, Stalin, holidaying in Sochi, sent a memo containing his thoughts on the entries for the competition to design the Palace of the Soviets, the never-to-be-built monument to Lenin and center of government. In this memo he selected his preferred design, the colossal wedding cake of a tower topped with a 260-foot (79-meter) high statue of Lenin, designed by Boris Iofan. Just over 80 years later, Sochi again hosted the architectural whims of a powerful Russian leader for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. An oversimplification? Probably. But it’s got nice symmetry to it.

The Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building, one of the most famous examples of the Stalinist "Wedding cake" style. Image © Flickr CC user Sergey Norin The Mountain Cluster of the Sochi Olympic Village. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia user Ivanaivanova Drawing of the proposed Palace of the Soviets by Boris Iofan. Image Courtesy of http://russiatrek.org Moscow's International Business Centre in 2011. Image © Flickr CC user Andrew Beirne +7

Win a Scholarship for the AA Visiting School in Santiago

00:00 - 11 November, 2014
Win a Scholarship for the AA Visiting School in Santiago

UPDATE: The Jury has selected Jeremy Jacinth and Luliana Teodora Amza as the winners of the £600 scholarship to participate in the GIPpy workshop at the AA Visiting School in Santiago, Chile. 

What does Soviet Union architecture have to do with Chilean astronomy? A lot more than many realize. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union manufactured three Grand Passage Instrument telescopes (GIPpy), and their accompanying domes in Saint Petersburg. Unfortunately, they fell into ruin after the Soviet astronomical mission’s departure from Chile following the 1973 military coup d-etat. Now, however, the Architectural Association Visiting School in Santiago, Chile, in partnership with the Pontifical Catholic University, will host a 10-day workshop in January on the GIPpy telescopes. The workshop is organized by the team that was recently awarded the Silver Lion at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale for their work on Soviet prefabricated housing in Chile, and we’ve teamed up with the Architectural Association Visiting School to give away two £600 scholarships to attend the workshop! 

For more information on the workshop and to find out how to enter to win a scholarship read on after the break…