CCCP : Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed Hardback
Photographer Frederic Chaubin reveals 90 buildings sited in fourteen former Soviet Republics which express what could be considered as the fourth age of Soviet architecture.
They reveal an unexpected rebirth of imagination, an unknown burgeoning that took place from 1970 until 1990.
Contrary to the twenties and thirties, no "school" or main trend emerges here.
These buildings represent a chaotic impulse brought about by a decaying system.
Their diversity announces the end of Soviet Union. Taking advantage of the collapsing monolithic structure, the holes of the widening net, architects revisited all the chronological periods and styles, going back to the roots or freely innovating.
Some of the daring ones completed projects that the Constructivists would have dreamt of (Druzhba sanatorium), others expressed their imagination in an expressionist way (Tbilisi wedding palace).
A summer camp, inspired by sketches of a prototype lunar base, lays claim to its suprematist influence (Promethee). Then comes the speaking architecture widespread in the last years of the USSR: a crematorium adorned with concrete flames (Kiev crematorium), a technological institute with a flying saucer crashed on the roof (Kiev institute), a political center watching you like a Big Brother (Kaliningrad House of Soviet).
This puzzle of styles testifies to all the ideological dreams of the period, from the obsession with the cosmos to the rebirth of privacy and it also outlines the geography of the USSR, showing how local influences made their exotic twists before bringing the country to its end.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 288 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: Taschen GmbH
- Publication Date: 05/02/2011
- Category: Individual photographers
- ISBN: 9783836525190
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Review by RobertDay
A substantial book depicting the wonders of Soviet architecture in the last twenty years of the Soviet Union. Lavishly produced, it is the record of Frédéric Chaubin's odyssey to record these buildings before they are swept away or fall down of their own accord.There is much to marvel at in this book. There are incidentals of life in the former USSR, as seen in the street scenes surrounding some of the buildings, the implications of a building called "The Palace of Weddings", or buildings that are the permanent headquarters of the various State Circuses, or even the Central Puppet Theatre of Moscow. There are the designs, which often outstrip the ability of the State to construct well, or maintain at all. There is the reality of the execution of the buildings - it's a long time since I've seen so much concrete! - and of their maintenance (or lack thereof).Some of the buildings are quite remarkable, as long as you like Le Corbusier-style monolithic blocks. Others do show genuine thought and care in their design. Some buildings are very telling - there is a section devoted to the summer villas of the Politburo leadership. And for sheer - well, bad taste? astonishing inappropriateness? - turn to page 282 and feast your eyes on the Sorrow Palace of Ritual Services in Kaunas, Lithuania. The clue's in the name to start with. It's bad enough that this crematorium - itself an assortment of concrete columns, ramps and buttresses - has been badly maintained, is set in a weed-ridden driveway of broken paving slabs, has no detail on its entryway or main door and was photographed on a gray, overcast day. But just to complete the ensemble, someone decided that it would be a good idea to put two statuary figures outside. These figures are two, twenty-foot high stylised cowled figures with their heads bowed in mourning. Whether by design or by accident of weathering, the darkness under the figures' cowls where the faces would be is extended down to ground level, suggesting an unstoppable torrent of tears. The overall effect is so depressing it could make some readers suicidal. Even the caption writer calls it "lugubrious", and that's an under-statement!Yet on the facing page is another Lithuanian funeral chapel which is quite a distinctive and almost attractive building.The book is beautifully presented and would grace any coffee table of a person with unconventional taste. Certainly, some of the buildings shown fall into the "so bad they're good" category. The book itself, though, is very good.