Legacy of Soviet Modernism Architecture

Ministry of Highways, 1974, Tbilisi, Georgia © Simona Rota

Generally out of scale and often in decay, much of the architecture that dates from the Iron Curtain period has a spectral air about it that’s highly rebloggable, but you could rarely find more haunting and dystopian examples than the collection on view at the Architekturzentrum in Vienna.  Titled ’Soviet Modernism 1955-1991. Unknown Stories’, the exhibition brings together, for the first time, fascinating images of the little known modernist architecture outside of (current) Russian borders.

The 9th Fort Memorial and Museum, 1984, Kaunas, Lithuania © Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair

Hero Fortress Brest Memorial, 1971, Brest, Belarus © Belorussian State Archive of Scientific-Technical Documentation

The result of a thorough research project, the collection of photographs, movies, and texts on display aims to fill in the blanks on Soviet modern architecture from the second half of the 20th century. Unlike Constructivism and Stalinism, this period has remained largely ignored by the Western architecture history, and lack of awareness hinders the conservation of relevant buildings.

Holiday Home for Writers, 1965-69, Sevan Lake, Armenia © Eduard Gabrielyan (CNA FPSR)

Bazar, 1983, Baku, Azerbaijan © Simona Rota

The exhibition documents structures completed between the late 1950s and the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1991 throughout former USSR territories such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Krygyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, The Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The vast spread of works allowed the curators to highlight the variety of the architectural approaches according to regional preferences, or national identities, and to challenge the western prejudice of a monotonous Eastern Bloc.

Residential building on Minskaya Street, 1980s, Bobruisk, Belarus © Belorussian State Archive of Scientific-Technical Documentation

Running through February 25, the show is curated by Katharina Ritter, Ekaterina Shapiro Obermair and Alexandra Wachter and designed by Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch. A catalogue in English and German (published by Park Books) will accompany the exhibition.

Sports and Concert Complex, 1976–1984, Yerevan, Armenia © Simona Rota

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