Found worldwide and revolving around various activities, from resource extraction to manufacturing, monotowns are urban settlements created around a single industry that employs the majority of the inhabitants. In the former Eastern Bloc, where monotowns are the remnants of the totalitarian regimes of the last half of the 20th century, the sudden transition from centralized economies to capitalism came as a profound shock to these settlements, generating processes of de-urbanization and internal migration. The following explores the architecture of the Russian Soviet-era monotowns, highlighting the failures, successes and current state of these particular urban environments.
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‘Sleeping districts’ of Moscow, Plattenbauten of East Berlin, modernist estates of Warsaw, Kyiv`s Brezhnevki: although these are home to the vast majority of city dwellers, post-war suburbs of central and eastern Europe have been invisible for decades.
Omnipresent plattenbau housing estates, monumental hochhäuser, cosmic milk bars; the post-war East Germany was rebuilt on concrete foundations to stand for the new modernity and shape the unique and no less controversial urban landscape of German Democratic Republic.
MODERN EAST: Build Your Own Modernist DDR is the new book by Zupagrafika celebrating socialist modernist and brutalist architecture of the former East Germany and allows you to playfully reconstruct some of the most intriguing edifices erected between early 1950s and late 1980s - from the massive plattenbauten of Rostock, through the icons of DDR-Moderne, like Kino International or Haus des Berliner
High-rise tower blocks, prefab panel housing estates, streets in the sky, new towns; some of the concrete constructions that once shaped the cityscapes of post-war Britain have stood the test of time, while others are long gone.
‘Brutal Britain’ by Zupagrafika (also author of ‘Brutal London’) celebrates the brutalist architecture of the British Isles, inviting readers to explore the Modern past of Great Britain and rebuild some of its most intriguing post-war edifices, from the iconic slabs of Sheffield`s Park Hill and experimental tower blocks at Cotton Gardens in London, to the demolished Birmingham Central Library.
Opening with a foreword by architectural
Inspired by the former Eastern Bloc concrete modernist estates, "BLOKOSHKA: Modernist Architectural Matryoshka", is a playful tour inside out the "sleeping districts" of Moscow, plattenbau constructions of East Berlin, Warsaw estates built over the ruins of old ghetto, and the panelak blocks in Prague. The Modernist Architectural Matryoshka is a set of 4 pre-cut and pre-folded nesting blocks to open in half and place inside of one another. Includes a note on Eastern European housing architecture. Includes a note on Eastern European housing architecture.
It was alongside the rise of the Soviet era when the Russian avant-garde movement started one of the most influential creative revolutions in the 20th Century. The Constructivists, forming part of this wave, rewrote the history of art, design and architecture, and their legacy still remains contemporary.
The creators' selection captures the "certainly brutal" charm of the "functionalist panelák estates and otherworldly concrete grand designs" of the Eastern Bloc. With Brutal East you can build your own...
Following “Brutal London,” Zupagrafika has released another collection of illustrated paper cut-out models, “Paris Brut," which portrays the Brutalist architecture of Paris from the late-’50s through the 1970s. The set features buildings from the city’s arrondissements and banlieues, the latter of which became a central locality for Habitation à Loyer Modéré, a type of public-private, rent-controlled housing in France.
Paris Brut is made up of six illustrated models to assemble: Orgues de Flandre, Les Choux de Créteil, Cité Curial-Michelet, Cité des 4000, Centre National de la Danse and Plan Voisin interpretation. The whole set is eco-friendly (printed on recycled paper and cardboard), and includes a short technical note on each building’s architect, year of construction, and exact location.
Inspired by the architecture of the Upper Silesian Industrial Region, Blokowice features modernist and brutalist buildings from the 1960-80s. The collection includes the Spodek and Superjednostka, two iconic buildings from the city center, Osiedle Gwiazdy, a characteristic star-shaped estate, Osiedle Odrodzenia, prefabricated panel blocks from the outskirts of the city, and the controversial Katowice railway station building that was demolished in 2011.
In the spirit of their popular London series, Polish studio Zupagrafika has designed another set of paper cut-out models, entitled "Eastern Block." The series highlights Warsaw's modernist architecture, ranging from the quintessentially functional (Rotunda PKO) to regionally recognized works (Za Żelazną Bramą, Smolna 8, Mokotów) and a prefabricated block on the city's outskirts (Tarchomin).
Polish studio Zupagrafika has released a collection of five paper cut-out models representing London’s brutalist architecture from 1960s and 70s. Scattered around the districts of Camden, Southwark and Tower Hamlet, the “raw concrete (paper) tour begins with iconic tower blocks (Balfron Tower and Space House), leads through council estates doomed to premature demolition (Robin Hood Gardens and Aylesbury Estate) and concludes with a classic prefab panel block (Ledbury Estate).”