In the mid-to-late 20th century, a secular, socialist Poland served as the backdrop for the construction of thousands of Catholic churches. In their book Day-VII Architecture, Izabela Cichonska, Karolina Popera, and Kuba Snopek analyze the paradoxical facets of this architecture born at the intersection of secularity and religion, charting how its development was influenced by liturgical reform, political movements, and the growth of postmodernism. In the excerpted introduction below, the authors unfold this history, touching on the Second Vatican Council, Solidarity, the Iron Curtain, and more in relation to the development of Day-VII Architecture's ultimately unique postmodern style. The publication has collected photographs of 100 Polish churches built after the year 1945, accompanied by interviews with their architects. To read more about the authors' original Day-VII documentation project, which served as the groundwork for this book, be sure to visit the original article "These Churches Are the Unrecognized Architecture of Poland's Anti-Communist 'Solidarity' Movement."
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Day-VII Architecture: How the Architecture of Polish Churches Developed in a Secular Socialist State
In Dnipro, Ukraine, sits a unique multi-purpose pavilion rich with historical roots and design influence. Stage is a collaborative project between architects from Ukraine, Poland, Denmark and Italy, crowdsourced and crowdfunded by the citizens of Dnipro. The site for the pavilion has been centered around community involvement throughout the complex history of Dnipro, but it has laid unused for over 70 years.
Stage is an emanation of the rich and vibrant culture and was built to accommodate the needs of dozens of artists, poets, painters and musicians, who previously relied on various spaces scattered around the city. Their "collective creative energy" was used to reactivate the lost community space. Stage was recently awarded Special Mention in the 2018 European Prize for Urban Public Space.
Read on for more about Stage and the collaborative effort that made this initiative possible.
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.
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.
In an article for The Guardian, Maryam Omidi explores Moscow's Door19, a place where "Damien Hirst and David LaChapelle artworks adorn the raw concrete walls," "flair bartenders serve up gem-coloured cocktails," and "a rotation of Michelin-starred chefs flown in from around the world curate new menus each week." It is indicative, she argues, of what Kuba Snopek (a lecturer at the Strelka Institute) describes as "hipster Stalinism" - a surge of redevelopment in certain parts of Moscow that cater to the 'oligarchs', wealthy creatives and Muscovite 'hipsters'. At Door19, for example, apartments sell for between $15,000 and $20,000 per square metre.