Eastern Bloc Architecture: Sci-fi Cinemas

This article is part of "Eastern Bloc Architecture: 50 Buildings that Defined an Era", a collaborative series by The Calvert Journal and ArchDaily highlighting iconic architecture that had shaped the Eastern world. Every week both publications will be releasing a listing rounding up five Eastern Bloc projects of certain typology. Read on for your weekly dose: Cinemas.

Cinema Oktyabr / Valentin Malyshev

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Cinema Oktyabr Minsk. Image © Wikimedia Commons

Minsk, Belarus

The Oktyabr Cinema was constructed  to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Union. Based on the general urban plan documented in 1935, the aim of the avenue was to connect the city centre with the west side of the capital, symbolizing the new socialistic Moscow. The Cinema was then redesigned to meet all the up-to-date requirements of modern cinema centres, yet preserved the same appearance and historic / geographical significance. The reconstructed structure of the Cinema is the largest multiplex in Russia, housing eleven auditoriums that fit more than 3,000 people. In 2007, it was one of the first cinemas in Russia to be equipped with digital projection equipment. In addition,  it is equipped with all the structural elements necessary to aid disabled people, such as: outside access ramps, wide lifts, and special seating areas  in the auditoriums.

Pushkinsky Cinema / Alexander Pushkin

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Pushkinsky Cinema. Image © Popular Architecture

Moscow, Russia

The historic Pushkinsky Cinema was created to showcase Russia’s top cinematic productions. Soon after, it became one of the country’s iconic landmarks, housing national and international movie festivals. The architecture gave value to its surroundings as it intersects the urban fabric of the Pushkin Square with commercial, cultural, and historic architecture around it, all while gradually inviting visitors inside the dark theatre. Historic photographs of the cinema highlight the building’s light and somewhat transparent atmosphere. The structure sits, or rather “floats” on more than 25 columns.  After it was abandoned a few decades ago, a proposal made by Brooklyn-based architecture studio Popular Architecture in 2011 gave the cinema a contemporary renovation, working around the existing structure and implementing an angular glass curtain and stainless steel mesh to its entrance. 

Cinema Rossiya / Spartak Khachikyan, Hrachik Poghosyan, and Artur Tarkhanyan

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Cinema Rossiya. Image © Wikimedia Commons

Yerevan, Armenia

Constructed between 1968 and 1975, the Cinema was considered the largest cinema in Armenia, entertaining almost 2500 visitors. Its unique design consists of 2 large sail-like concrete elements which erect from a bulky platform. The design aimed to represent the lower and higher peaks of Mount Ararat, a nationally-celebrated Armenian symbol. As for the interior, it is decorated with reflective metal plates in a honeycomb layout. The cinema’s central atrium is outlined with dynamic cantilevered staircases and angular-shaped stained glass windows. However, it was abandoned shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, only to become a commercial shopping centre in the 1990’s. 

Kosmos Cinema / Unknown architect

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Kosmos Cinema Zhytomyr. Image © Wikimedia Commons

Zhytomyr, Ukraine

Perhaps the most distinguished element of this structure lies in its facade. Architect Vasyl Mykytenko ornamented the structure’s elevation with “galactic” compositions of small mosaics, based on sketches by Oleksandr Kostiuk, embodying the sense of space exploration and the art of nature. The architect’s graphical compositions were accentuated by stainless steel star-like elements and figures, placed over yellow, blue,  green, and mauve mosaics. 

Arman Cinema / Viktor Konstaninov

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Arman Cinema. Image © Wikimedia Commons

Almaty, Kazakhstan

One of the few cinemas to maintain its original activity to this day, the Arman Cinema was the first to display 3D movies and digital stereo-films in the city. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the cinema was temporarily converted to a dance club. As a result of its importance to the citizens of Almaty, the Arman Cinema became a cultural meeting place and hangout spot, hosting international film festivals and premiers, as well as gathering people around even if their purpose is to not to watch a movie. 

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Cite: Dima Stouhi. "Eastern Bloc Architecture: Sci-fi Cinemas " 03 Sep 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/946917/eastern-bloc-architecture-sci-fi-cinemas> ISSN 0719-8884

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