Danila Tkachenko is a Russian photographer whose series Restricted Areas crystallises the tendencies of many artists working on themes of the post-Soviet space. As Calvert 22’s Power and Architecture season demonstrates, there is a healthy interest in the abandoned or neglected buildings that once served as landmarks of Soviet ambition: the rack and ruin of utopia. What sets Tkachenko apart is the unforgiving simplicity of his compositions. — calvertjournal.com
From 1917 to 1991 in the former Russian Empire, and from 1945 to 1989 in the countries it dominated after the war, there was no real private ownership. No landowners, no developers, no “placemakers” - in half of Europe. Did this mean public space was done differently, and are attitudes to it different in those countries? [...] observed more closely, public space here is every bit as complex as it is elsewhere in Europe. — theguardian.com
The largest remaining statue of Lenin in Ukraine was removed from its pedestal in Zaporizhia last week, the latest victim of the Ukrainian ban on Soviet symbols. But how do you go about “de-communising” an almost entirely Stalinist city? — calvertjournal.com
The rise of international architecture competitions has given western architects an opportunity to make their mark on eastern Europe and Central Asia [...]
Regardless of record-high fees, some of their projects are being cancelled half-way through or take a good decade to build. But the ones that are brought to life often become some of the most recognised works of its authors. For starchitects the miles between eastern Europe and Central Asia is the place where dreams and ambitions come true. — calvertjournal.com
Located in the middle of the Eurasian landmass 3,000km east of Moscow, with a climate that ranges from 30C mosquito-ridden summers to -40C snow-drenched winters, this isn’t the most obvious place for a tech startup hub...
The Academpark is not some random outpost in the middle of nowhere, but the latest part of a plan to revive Akademgorodok, the Soviet science town that was established here in 1957, and long since left to languish. — the Guardian
more of them were built in the former Czechoslovakia — in a boom that stretched from 1959 to 1995 — than any place else on what was once Soviet earth. Today, about a third of all Czechs and Slovaks, from all income brackets, still call their panelaks home — NYT
It’s a reminder that decommunisation is a project which might actually be physically impossible to execute in full, which hopefully begs the question — if Soviet Ukraine can't be wished away, what should be conserved, and what should be rejected? [...]
The nationalist purging of any traces of socialism from the landscape is a fool’s errand at best, gross historical revisionism at worst. — calvertjournal.com
Moscow's landscape is filled with Soviet-era buildings, many of them shuttered after the privatisation programme of the Nineties. Built for the people's benefit, they are now shut away off from public access, patrolled by security guards, most of whom never dream of exploring the upper floors.
But it is the roof of the Moscow pavilion that brings us here. Because of its concave shape the roof looks like a giant skate ramp. My friends and I want to see if it can perform like one too. — calvertjournal.com
Wood fell out of fashion as a building material in the Soviet Union in favour of concrete. Now, architects across the new east are returning to wood for its many qualities including cost-effectiveness and sustainability. [...]
“Urban wooden architecture is something completely different. It is for the people, without any kind of pretensions for the long-term. It has no direct economic benefit, but it promotes unity and healthy communication.” — calvertjournal.com
Russia’s northern cities are a triumph of will; grand settlements in the middle of snow and darkness where people are dwarfed by the outsized factories they’ve built and helpless next to the industrial waste those factories create. Photographer Alexander Gronsky’s images of Norilsk seem both close to reality and something out of a dream. [...] But at the same time it is a place of heart-wrenching almost Arcadian beauty. A place of pale skies and metallic rivers. — calvertjournal.com
Big, brash, and full of energy, Moscow is a city that knows how to make an impression. But for all its attractions — world-class museums, clubs and rapidly transforming food scene, to name a few — its downsides are impossible to ignore. [...]
This week, The Calvert Journal considers Moscow’s prospects, consulting experts at the Moscow Urban Forum, looking in detail at two projects in the pipeline — VDNKh and Zaryadye Park — and checking out some neighbourhoods that are already going places. — calvertjournal.com
Driving through the suburbs of Minsk, photographer Vitus Saloshanka, a Belorusian native who moved away in 2001, was struck by the way in which familiar places had changed. “I saw something I’ve never seen in Minsk before,” he says. “Contrast, social differences.” [...] “The houses represent a new sense of self-awareness in Belorusian society as well as a search for a new cultural identity. Who are we? Where are our roots? How is this expressed in the form of architecture?” — calvertjournal.com
Architecture critic Owen Hatherley travelled to Nizhny Novgorod to visit Avtozavod, a purpose-built “workers’ paradise”. The idealism may have gone, but its legacy remains strong — calvertjournal.com
In A Model for a City photographer Petr Antonov studies Moscow as the perfect example of a post-Soviet urban environment. The streets, buildings, cars and people captured by his camera are isolated from their everyday purposes and work like visual elements of the cityscape. [...] Antonov successfully captured the change so typical for most post-Soviet cities: newly built high-rises and faceless malls emerging on the horizon, ugly signage and never-ending building works. — calvertjournal.com
Frank Herfort is fascinated by the uniquely shaped buildings that have seemed to sprout from the ground since the end of the Soviet era.
Some of the German photographer's images of these eye-catching structures are published in his new book, "Imperial Pomp: Post-Soviet High-Rise." [...]
"I want to show the reputation there, the power," he said. "It's also a signal of the new Russian time." — CNN Photos
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