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Soviet Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News

Abandoned Soviet-Era Infrastructure Captured by Danila Tkachenko

09:00 - 21 January, 2019
Abandoned Soviet-Era Infrastructure Captured by Danila Tkachenko, An abandoned building in central Bulgaria near the town of Kazanlak. Image © Danila Tkachenko
An abandoned building in central Bulgaria near the town of Kazanlak. Image © Danila Tkachenko

Last week, we covered the work of Moscow-based visual artist Danila Tkachenko, whose “Monuments” project appropriated abandoned Russian Orthodox churches with abstract modernist shapes. Tkachenko’s further work, “Restricted Areas” is equally as impressive, focusing on the human impulse towards utopia through technological progress.

The “Restricted Areas” photography set distills humanity’s strive to perfection through recording abandoned Soviet infrastructure. Traveling to now-deserted landscapes which once held great importance as centers of technological progress, Tkachenko captured images of “forgotten scientific triumphs, abandoned buildings of almost inhuman complexity” and a “technocratic future that never came.”

© Danila Tkachenko © Danila Tkachenko © Danila Tkachenko © Danila Tkachenko + 15

The Doomed Monuments of Revolutionary Europe Through the Lens of Darmon Richter

09:30 - 5 August, 2018
The Doomed Monuments of Revolutionary Europe Through the Lens of Darmon Richter, Memorial House, Tjentište. Image © Darmon Richter
Memorial House, Tjentište. Image © Darmon Richter

British researcher Darmon Richter has recently released Monumentalism, a visual study of over 200 photographs featuring socialist architecture and designs built by 20th century regimes around the world. These photos were taken in more than 30 different countries and show a broad range of subject matter, from military parades in the former Soviet Union to revolutionary memorial sites. See more after the break.

Monument to the Nine Kherkheulidze Brothers. Image © Darmon Richter Dudik Memorial Park. Image © Darmon Richter Armenian Genocide Memorial. Image © Darmon Richter Gates of Artsakh. Image © Darmon Richter + 11

Celebrate Ukraine's Soviet Brutalist Architecture with this New Short Film

08:00 - 24 July, 2018

The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1991 came not only with political, economic, and social implications but also left behind a distinctive style of architecture. This architecture, under the Soviet regime, was a system which relied on quantifiable targets, such as the Five Year Plan. These quotas forced architects to evaluate building projects in terms of material and labor costs, number of units, volume of skilled and unskilled labor, and so forth. As a result, architecture across these regions became an industrial commodity, an outward flex of power and technological innovation, and a collective of architects executing a Stalinist vision.

7 Sites in Havana That Tell the Story of Cuba’s Rich Architectural History

09:30 - 23 May, 2018
7 Sites in Havana That Tell the Story of Cuba’s Rich Architectural History, © Evan Chakroff
© Evan Chakroff

Havana is often referred to as a time machine that transports visitors to a particular moment in history, seemingly frozen in time. While it is a city that boasts an exhaustive timeline of imported styles, Havana in the present day is not defined by a singular historical era—either in its political climate or in its architectural zeitgeist.

Over the decades, the Cuban Revolution has had powerful domestic and international repercussions. In particular, it transformed Cuba’s relationship with the United States. But efforts to improve diplomatic relations have gained momentum in recent years, with the teetering lift of the embargo that exacerbated a David and Goliath situation and left a lasting economic impact on the Cuban people. Havana’s skyline has hardly altered since the fall of the Soviet Union, and the city became shut off from the rest of the world, having to rely heavily on its own resources. Today, the government in Havana occupies the gap between the last stance of post-Cold War communism, and the looming influence of Capitalism, a situation which reveals itself in the variety of distinct architectural styles. These seven sites in the island nation’s capital best explain the story about where Havana has been, and offer a prediction as to where it may head next.

© Evan Chakroff © Evan Chakroff © Evan Chakroff © Evan Chakroff + 30

How Slovakia's Soviet Ties Led to a Unique Form of Sci-Fi Architecture

09:30 - 19 February, 2018
Memorial and Museum of the Slovak National Uprising, by architect Dušan Kuzma, 1963-1970. Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego
Memorial and Museum of the Slovak National Uprising, by architect Dušan Kuzma, 1963-1970. Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego

The history of Slovakia is riddled with political unrest and unwanted occupation, with the Slovak people having repeatedly been denied a voice throughout history. In the years following World War I, Slovakia was forced into the common state of Czechoslovakia; the territory was dismembered by the Nazi regime in 1938 and occupied by the Nazis for most of the Second World War, before being eventually liberated by Soviet and Romanian forces in 1945. Over the next four decades of communist rule—first by communists within Czechoslovakia itself and then later by the Soviet Union—the architecture of Slovakia came to develop into a unique form of sci-fi postmodernism that celebrated the shift in industrial influence at the time.

Photographer Stefano Perego has documented the Slovakian architecture from the 1960s–80s and has shared some of his photos with ArchDaily.

Slovak Radio Building, by architects Štefan Svetko, Štefan Ďurkovič and Barnabáš Kissling, 1967-1983. Bratislava, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego "UFO", by sculptor Juraj Hovorka, 1979. Restored in 2014. Bratislava, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising, by A. Tesár, J. Lacko and I. Slameň, 1967-1972. Bratislava, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego Fountain of Union, by sculptors Juraj Hovorka, Tibor Bártfay, Karol Lacko and architects Virgil Droppa and Juraj Hlavica, 1979-1980. Bratislava, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego + 18

Georgia's Soviet Architectural Heritage Captured by Photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego

09:30 - 21 September, 2017
Tbilisi. The Palace of Ceremonies/Rituals, by Victor Djorbenadze (1984-1985). Image © Roberto Conte
Tbilisi. The Palace of Ceremonies/Rituals, by Victor Djorbenadze (1984-1985). Image © Roberto Conte

The Republic of Georgia’s past is defined by turbulence and a struggle for identity. A former republic of the USSR, Georgia is perhaps best known as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. The nation's history has been anything but calm, and remnants of the architectural past provide a glimpse into the nation that was.

The country's remaining Soviet landmarks give Georgia an air of being caught between the past and the present. Italian photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego capture this in their photo series, Soviet Architecture Heritage in Georgia, with a compilation of photos that highlights the existing Soviet heritage in Georgian architecture today.

Tbilisi. Archaeological Museum (1988). Image © Stefano Perego Zhinvali. Aragveli monument. Image © Stefano Perego Tbilisi. Technical Library, by G. Bichiasshvili (1985). Image © Roberto Conte Tbilisi. The Palace of Ceremonies/Rituals, by Victor Djorbenadze (1984-1985). Image © Roberto Conte + 12

Spotlight: Konstantin Melnikov

06:00 - 3 August, 2017
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.

Burevestnik Factory Club (1927 - 1929) / Konstantin Melnikov. Image © Denis Esakov Rusakov Workers' Club (1927-1929) / Konstantin Melnikov. Image © Denis Esakov Soviet Pavilion at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925) / Konstantin Melnikov. Image © <a href='http://www.flickr.com/photos/27862259@N02/5842277086'>Flickr user kitchener.lord</a> licensed under <a href='http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/'>CC BY-NC-ND 2.0</a> Melnikov Residence (1929) / Konstantin Melnikov. Image © Denis Esakov + 14

Why Moscow's Massacre of Mass Housing Is a Huge Mistake

09:30 - 12 April, 2017
Why Moscow's Massacre of Mass Housing Is a Huge Mistake, © Max Avdeev
© Max Avdeev

The Moscow government has just launched the biggest demolition program in the city’s history. Its goal is to get rid of 8,000 5-story residential buildings constructed in the Soviet era—it is probably the biggest program of erasure of modernist architectural heritage in world history. The main assumptions of the plan, as well as the press comments following it, show that we have forgotten what modernism was about, and what the real values of this architecture are.

A few years ago I published an essay titled Belyayevo Forever, dedicated to the preservation of generic modernist architecture. I focused on Moscow’s microrayons—vast, state-funded housing estates built in the Soviet era. In the essay, I explained the spatial and cultural values these prefabricated landscapes had. I also speculated about how one would go about preserving architecture that completely lacks uniqueness. The essay ended with a provocative statement: we should put Belyayevo—the most generic of all Soviet estates—on the UNESCO heritage list.

© Max Avdeev © Max Avdeev © Max Avdeev © Max Avdeev + 13

Unique Brutalism - Celebrating 35 Years of the Barbican

12:00 - 19 March, 2017
Unique Brutalism - Celebrating 35 Years of the Barbican, Barbican Complex, London. Image Courtesy of GoCompare
Barbican Complex, London. Image Courtesy of GoCompare

The Barbican Centre in London is celebrating its 35th anniversary. Widely regarded as the pinnacle of the Brutalist movement, the mixed-use development is home to 4,000 residents, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and the London Symphony Orchestra. Located in the heart of London, the Barbican is just one example of how Brutalist architecture forms a central part of our cities. To celebrate this progressive, modernizing, sometimes controversial style, GoCompare has created an online gallery illustrating Brutalist icons from across the world.

Unite D'Habitation, Marseille, France. Image Courtesy of GoCompare De Rotterdam, Netherlands. Image Courtesy of GoCompare Habitat 67, Montreal, Canada. Image Courtesy of GoCompare The Balfron Tower, London. Image Courtesy of GoCompare + 9

The Fossilized Soviet Architecture of Belarus, in Photos

09:30 - 21 February, 2017
The Fossilized Soviet Architecture of Belarus, in Photos, The Mound of Glory. A monument to the soldiers who fought for the liberation of Belarus during World War II. By architect O. Stakhovich and sculptor A. Bembel, 1967-1969. Image © Stefano Perego
The Mound of Glory. A monument to the soldiers who fought for the liberation of Belarus during World War II. By architect O. Stakhovich and sculptor A. Bembel, 1967-1969. Image © Stefano Perego

The history of what is now the Republic of Belarus is a turbulent one. It has been part of the Russian Empire, occupied by the Germans during both World Wars, divided between Poland and the Soviet Union, and finally declared its independence in 1991. Although Belarus is now an independent nation, it is also an isolated dictatorship that has in some ways remained unchanged since the 1990s, and is largely seen both culturally and architecturally as a sort of time warp, Europe's most vivid window into life in the Soviet Union.

Photographer Stefano Perego recently documented the postwar Soviet legacy of Belarus' architecture from the 1960s-80s, and has shared the photos from his 2016 cross-country drive with ArchDaily.

Cinema Oktyabr, by architect Valentin Malyshev, 1975. Minsk, Belarus. Image © Stefano Perego Housing complex "Kukuruza" (Corn), by architect Vladimir Pushkin, 1982. Minsk, Belarus. Image © Stefano Perego Pavilion of International Exhibitions "Belexpo", by architect Leonard Moskalevich, 1988. Minsk, Belarus. Image © Stefano Perego Palace of Arts, by architect Boris Semyonovich Popov, 1989. Bobruisk, Belarus. Image © Stefano Perego + 21

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

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

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 Journal, Ksenia 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