Socialist modernism: remembering the architecture of the eastern bloc

Much of the brutalist architecture of eastern Europe is decrepit, but now a project aims to document and preserve it

The monumental but disintegrating grey, brutalist structures of central and eastern Europe are fading memories of the socialist epoch. So decrepit are some of these buildings that the Bureau for Art and Urban Research( Bacu) believes” socialistmodernism“- the architecture from the former eastern bloc erected between 1955 -9 1- has been left out of the history books.

In an attempt to protect these buildings, Bacu started an initiative in 2014 to document and conserve the structures and their heritage.

From the faded splendour of the State Circus in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, to the concrete curves of Kiev’s Memory Park, many of these buildings have been abandoned and to allow them to wrecking, while others sit waiting for demolition in rapidly developing eastern European cities.

” We aim to revitalise this heritage not only for symbolic reasons, but because we believes in these elements that managed to defy some of the ideological requirements, giving the urban space a certain flavours so characteristic of those days ,” says Dumitru Rusu of Bacu.” Boulevards, public builds, living units and monuments, they all are a clear reflection of the social and cultural context of the socialist period .”

In the first phase of the project, the group is documenting the architecture from the Eastern Bloc( the socialist countries of central and east Europe ), as are available on Instagram account @socialistmodernism. Rusu explains that socialist era architecture can be divided into two parts: socialist realism in the Stalinist period, and modernism from 1955 -9 1. Bacu has also mapped these socialist modernist houses and monuments online in a community-driven tool, hoping to build a comprehensive database as well as create awareness and promote a desire to preserve them. The second phase aims to develop regulations for protection.

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Bacu is currently working on recommendations for the restoration of several socialist modernist structures in Romania and Moldova.” The proposals indicate the demolition of parasitic structures; proscribing the closure of balconies and any type of DIY abusive rehabilitation; removing excessive advertising from the facades and, finally, stimulating these neighbourhoods, houses, leisure facilities, parks, part of the historical heritage .”

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