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Communism: The Latest Architecture and News

A Soviet Union of Historic Images

05:00 - 9 April, 2019
A Soviet Union of Historic Images, @ Tamara Stoffers. ImageSparrow Hills
@ Tamara Stoffers. ImageSparrow Hills

What would historic cities look like if scale didn’t exist and functions were manipulated?

Dutch artist Tamara Stoffers found inspiration from an old Soviet Union book published in the early 1960s, which featured images of mass-housing apartment blocks without any ornamentation or color. The book highlighted the symmetry and functionality of Soviet architecture, representing what a communist future strived to look like. It became clear to her that a lot of stories lie in the history of USSR that deserve to be explored.

Stoffers' admiration extended beyond Russian architecture, looking at everyday objects, banners, postcards, and books. In a matter of 4-5 years, she put together a series of surreal collages taken from more than 30 picture books. The images, which seemed intriguing on their own, were mixed and matched with complementary photographs in an exaggerated, amusing way, presenting the Soviet Union as never seen before.

Kalinin Prospekt. Image © Tamara Stoffers Voronezh. Image © Tamara Stoffers Baku. Image © Tamara Stoffers Cathedral of St. Sophia. Image © Tamara Stoffers + 15

Reclaiming Polish Brutalism: Discover the Emblems of Communism

07:00 - 28 October, 2018
Reclaiming Polish Brutalism: Discover the Emblems of Communism, Falowiec / Gdańsk. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia
Falowiec / Gdańsk. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

To strip a city of its architecture is to erase its history altogether. Despite a widespread public distaste for Brutalism, the brutalist era in architecture often went hand in hand with political movements promising an egalitarian vision in post-Stalinist Poland. What may now be considered austere and overbearing was originally intended to be anything but; the buildings today carry both an appreciation for their legacy and the burden of unwanted memories.

In a recent article in the New York Times, writer Akash Kapur documents his visit to Poland, bringing readers into his experiences and observations of this complex response to Polish architecture. From sharing its history to short anecdotes from interviews, the piece postulates whether these relics can become alive again.

Osiedle Plac Grunwaldzki "Manhattan" / Wroclaw Falowiec / Gdańsk © Marcin Lachowicz Courtesy of Wikimedia + 10

MVRDV to Transform Communist-Era Pyramid into Center for Art and Technology in Albania

14:00 - 18 May, 2018
Courtesy of MVRDV
Courtesy of MVRDV

MVRDV has unveiled its vision for transforming the Communist-era “Tirana Pyramid” in Albania into a center for technology, art, and culture. Under the plans, the abandoned structure will be revitalized as a multifunctional technology education center for Tirana’s youth, with the existing dark interior becoming open, bright, and green.

The Tirana Pyramid was opened in 1988 as the Enver Hoxta Museum, designed in honor of Albania’s former communist leader. Since then, the building has transitioned into a NATO base during the Balkan Wars, a nightclub, and an event space. Though now in decay, the building remains a popular spot for young people keen to climb on its roof. As a nod to this unique appropriation, MVRDV has made the roof officially available for all visitors.

Courtesy of MVRDV © Gent Onuzi Courtesy of MVRDV Courtesy of MVRDV + 5

AD Classics: French Communist Party Headquarters / Oscar Niemeyer

09:30 - 23 April, 2018
© Denis Esakov
© Denis Esakov

In March 1972, an article in The Architectural Review proclaimed that this structure was “probably the best building in Paris since Le Corbusier’s Cité de Refuge for the Salvation Army.”[1] The article was, of course, referring to Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s first project in Europe: the French Communist Party Headquarters in Paris, France, built between 1967 and 1980. Having worked with Le Corbusier on the 1952 United Nations Building in New York and recently finished the National Congress as well as additional iconic government buildings in Brasilia, Niemeyer was no stranger to the intimate relationship between architecture and political power.[2]

© Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/o_0/29118795843/'>Flickr user Guilhem Vellut</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a> + 37

The Unexpected Stories Behind 10 Skyscrapers That Were Actually Built

04:00 - 24 January, 2017
The Unexpected Stories Behind 10 Skyscrapers That Were Actually Built, Torre Velasca. Image © José Tomás Franco
Torre Velasca. Image © José Tomás Franco

As long as there have been buildings mankind has sought to construct its way to the heavens. From stone pyramids to steel skyscrapers, successive generations of designers have devised ever more innovative ways to push the vertical boundaries of architecture. Whether stone or steel, however, each attempt to reach unprecedented heights has represented a vast undertaking in terms of both materials and labor – and the more complex the project, the greater the chance for things to go awry.

Ryugyong Hotel. Image © José Tomás Franco Robot Building. Image © José Tomás Franco CCTV Headquarters. Image © José Tomás Franco Cayan Tower. Image © José Tomás Franco + 21

AD Classics: House of Culture / Alvar Aalto

05:00 - 14 March, 2016
AD Classics: House of Culture / Alvar Aalto, Courtesy of Flickr user Wotjek Gurak
Courtesy of Flickr user Wotjek Gurak

Originally built as the headquarters for the Finnish Communist Party, the House of Culture (Kultuuritalo in Finnish) has since established itself as one of Helsinki’s most popular concert venues.[1] Comprising a rectilinear copper office block, a curved brick auditorium, and a long canopy that binds them together, the House of Culture represents the pinnacle of Alvar Aalto’s work with red brick architecture in the 1950s.

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

10:30 - 7 March, 2016

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