Revel in Outrageous Eastern Bloc Architecture

Anthony Paletta reviews the recent glut of art volumes devoted to communist architecture in the former Eastern bloc, and includes stunning photos of "sublime sci-fi" Soviet architecture largely unseen in the West.
Argenberg / Flickr

Paletta looks at some of the incredible architecture captured in five volumes published in the last several years: Taschen's CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed, Hatje Cantz's Socialist Modernism, Monacelli's The Lost Vanguard: Russian Modernist Architecture 1922-1932, Roma's Spomenik, and Jovis's Modernism In-Between: The Mediatory Architectures of Socialist Yugoslavia.

While Paletta's ruminations on the symbolism of architecture built under totalitarian societies once such rule is over deserves attention, the images of the buildings themselves, with their uniformly durable materials and commanding presences, are the star of this essay.

Full Story: The Sublime Sci-Fi Buildings That Communism Built




He is talking about the Constructivist movement in architecture, though he only mentions the word once.

For more history, see
"Constructivist architecture was a form of modern architecture that flourished in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and early 1930s. It combined advanced technology and engineering with an avowedly Communist social purpose. Although it was divided into several competing factions, the movement produced many pioneering projects and finished buildings, before falling out of favour around 1932. Its effects have been marked on later developments in architecture."

Many of the avant-gardist buildings of our time are reminiscent of constructivism - the marked effects on later developments that he mentions.

It would help us to understand today's avant-gardism, if we renamed it "constructivist revival" and recognized that it is a throwback to the technophilia of the early twentieth century (but without the social purpose).

Belated Constructivism

Correction. Searching around, I find that most buildings in this article are relatively recent. They look like buildings designed in the US at the same time.

You could do a similar article on weird science-fiction buildings of the United States, focusing on Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, and the like.

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
AICP CTP Storefont Display

The first online AICP* CTP exam prep class

Are you ready to take the AICP* Certified Transportation Planner exam?
Priced at $245 for May exam!
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95

Wear your city with style!

100% silk scarves feature detailed city maps. Choose from six cities with red or blue trim.