I’m on a walking tour with two dozen international architects and urban designers, as we imagine a theoretical future for Havana. The walk is part of a charrette—an exercise that gives professionals and community members a voice on urban development when there is no formal mechanism to do so, as has been the case in crumbling Havana. [...]
As the Cuban government slowly loosens restrictions on private enterprise, one wonders if the gentrification of Havana is inevitable. — Hakai Magazine
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
Related stories in the Archinect news:Owen Hatherley on a Stalinist city's efforts to "de-communize"The New East is where western starchitect dreams come true (or turn into nightmares)Michael Kimmelman on Public Squares
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
Related stories in the Archinect news:Owen Hatherley on Kiev's struggle with its Soviet architectural heritageOwen Hatherley on the mass housing history of Moscow’s suburbsMoscow skaters reclaiming hidden spaces on top of Soviet-era buildings
The idea, besides removing as many vestiges of Communist rule as possible, is to create a concrete expression of the nationalism [Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban's] governing party espouses. [...]
“These projects, when lumped together, probably constitute the biggest such concentrated architectural project in Budapest in 100 years,” [...]
“He is trying to take the existing city and put it back to the shape it had before 1944...The park is a victim of this whole political machinery.” — nytimes.com
Learn more about a couple of the controversial projects mentioned:First glimpse: SANAA wins over Snøhetta for Budapest's new National Gallery + Ludwig MuseumThe fascinating DIY architecture of these Hungarian summer houses brings back childhood memoriesThree winners, including Sou Fujimoto, are...
“I give it two years, max [...] It will be US business interests that finally push congress into lifting the embargo – they’re all going crazy being shut out of this market.” American architects and developers are already queuing up to be first in line, ready to pounce on investment opportunities when the embargo drops. Frank Gehry sailed into Havana in December, aboard a streamlined yacht he designed for himself, here to “offer his expertise to Cuba” according to a government statement. — theguardian.com
“You know that Cuba is at the centre of attention of many people,” Gehry told the gathered crowd. “And in the immediate future it will attract many investors – particularly the tourism sector. But I am sure that you know to be careful with those projects.”Related stories in the Archinect...
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
Related on Archinect:Owen Hatherley on the mass housing history of Moscow’s suburbsMoscow skaters reclaiming hidden spaces on top of Soviet-era buildingsParadise lost? The enduring legacy of a Soviet-era utopian workers’ district
“Let us usher in a great golden age of construction,” exhorts one of the 310 official patriotic slogans published this year. The ambition is already evident in the number of cranes that dot the skyline [...]. The most prominent structures are the 47-storey shafts of the Changjon Street apartments, an 18-tower complex completed last year in less than 12 months and nicknamed “Pyonghattan” by foreign diplomats. But other emerging skyscrapers go undiscussed and unphotographed [...]. — theguardian.com
Related stories on Archinect and our sister site Bustler:“Crow’s Eye View”, from the 2014 Venice Biennale Korean Pavilion, returns as a NY exhibition (Bustler)North Korean architect of new Pyongyang airport reportedly executed by Kim Jong UnNorth Koreans hesitate to move into Kim Jong Un's...
To [Hatherley], architecture is the physical manifestation of politics. It is power literally in bricks and mortar. In this respect he is unusual and, I believe, right. But he is handicapped at every turn by his belief, worn on his sleeve, in the nobility of the socialist cause. This can be an asset as he wrestles manfully to evoke the spirit of places from which most of us would turn in horror. — wsj.com
More from British architecture writer Owen Hatherley here, and on communist architecture:The promises and problems of a Cuban architecture marketProtesting context, not form, of Ottawa's "victims of communism" memorialCreepy Photos of Russia’s Crumbling Communist ArchitectureCzech Communist...
Would-be investors would face other obstacles even if the embargo were lifted... Cuba is still tightly controlled by its Communist government. [...]
In any case, most architectural work in Cuba today focuses on the restoration of Havana’s immense historic building stock—two-thirds of which is in disrepair—and on bringing Havana into the 21st century without imperiling its heritage. — architectmagazine.com
More on Cuba:Take a virtual tour of Havana's modern architecture"American Disruption, at Home and Abroad": Gehry's Facebook HQ opens and Airbnb comes to Cuba on Archinect Sessions Episode #24Airbnb now open for business in Cuba, despite anemic internet accessA glimpse at Havana's rooftop dwellers...
Blumberg doesn’t understand why a memorial to victims of communism was given such an “incredibly prominent, almost sacrosanct” site. “It is so centrally placed that it would seem to quite overshadow Canada’s true history.” [...]
"I have a massive problem, a huge problem, with this memorial going on that site. I think it completely misrepresents and skews what Canada is all about.” — ottawacitizen.com
ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture was chosen to design Canada's future National Memorial to Victims of Communism in Ottawa...The team was selected out of six finalists at the end of the two-phase national design competition held this summer. The memorial will pay tribute to the more than 100 million people around the globe who suffered or perished under communist dictatorship, as well as educate the public about the heavy consequences caused by communism. — bustler.net
As a national memorial, it will also signify Canada's role in offering refuge to those who escaped that oppression. It will be located on Confederation Boulevard beside the Supreme Court of Canada, the Library and Archives Canada, the Peace Tower, and other key federal...
The sterility of the photos, especially the images of prisoner bedrooms, hints at the degree to which the Stasi kept a tight lid on dissenters. In prison culture (or at least prison culture as it’s portrayed in the movies), there’s a lot of graffiti: on the walls, in library books, between cells. “We were searching for any scratching or anything in the cells—usually you would think they were sending messages—but it was very clear you couldn’t see anything” — wired.com
English photographer Rebecca Litchfield braved radiation and KGB-style interrogation techniques to capture the beauty of this bygone era in a series called Soviet Ghosts.
Her work took her to schools, hospitals, factories, and accidentally, a top secret radar installation. “Many of the abandoned buildings are pretty unknown to the public, they are hidden behind tall fences and gates, I think it is easy to just pass without knowing what is inside,” says Litchfield. — wired.com
Buildings perform a variety of functions: They shelter, illuminate, and obscure surrounding people and landscapes. The fundamentally pragmatic purpose of architecture endows edifices with a wide range of functions, but rarely does architecture speak. Curator Joanna Warsza, however, organizes performances and interventions that implore architecture to speak back. — blouinartinfo.com
The new commission for cultural heritage protection, an adviser to the Czech National Heritage Institute (NPÚ) director, has recommended that the state start protecting relatively young works of architecture from the second half of the 20th century [...]
“Unlike the architecture of the interwar Czechoslovakia, the post-war architecture has been omitted by protection programs so far, also because its valuable pieces are more difficult to distinguish." — praguepost.com
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