031212: Architekturzentrum Wien - Soviet Modernism 1955 – 1991 Unknown Stories

Architekturzentrum Wien Soviet Modernism 1955 – 1991 Unknown Stories 8.11.2012 – 25.02.2013 Regional Awakenings By Roland Schöny The building of the Ministry for Road Construction in Georgia’s capital Tiflis is one of the most fascinating icons of progressive Soviet architecture. Located at a hillside its individual elements resemble boxes placed loosely on top of one another. The light and experimental construction designed in 1974 by architect Giorgi Tshachawa is proof of the quality of numerous public buildings in the former non-Russian Soviet republics. Of course these kinds of sculptural concepts remain singular phenomena in the former USSR. Even to this day, the characteristics of progressive individual construction in the post-Stalinist era have hardly been dealt with. This fact alone accounts for the sensational character of the project “Soviet Modernism” in the Architekturzentrum Wien, which was realized after many years of research by Katharina Ritter, Ekaterina Shapiro-Obermair and Alexandra Wachter in cooperation with the state A.W. Schtuschussev Museum for Architecture in Moscow and numerous project partners and institutions. The result is an exciting, colourful expedition through the Baltic Sea and across White Russia, Ukraine, and the Caucasus to Armenia and Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, or Turkmenistan in Central Asia. The exhibition presents the pluralism of architectures following Nikita Khrushchev’s liberalization process in the 1950s. Later, the decline of rigid order under Leonid Brezhnev allowed for an increase of aesthetic freedom. Independent architectural positions prevailed against the construction ideological Moscow-based centralism. The broadening of an international dialogue with Modernism also becomes obvious. The architecture of the dismissal halls in Kiev by Milezkyi, Melnytchenko and Rybatchuk remind of Jorn Utzon’s opera house in Sydney. The main thesis of the exhibition documents the successive integration of local idioms; such as residential buildings and other communal institutions including kindergartens or social centres in Dushanbe in Tajikistan. It became generally apparent that individuality was possible beyond residential buildings, beyond everyday life. In this connection, event halls, theatres and circus buildings are of conceptual interest. Stereotyped ideas of technocratic functionalism are successfully broken apart. This, in part, also affects urban planning. It is remarkable how levelling the exhibition itself appears, to a large part through wall charts. In some phases the show has similarities to an index box translated into space. Possibly an effect that resulted from the limited amount of space in the AzW. In order to get used to the diversity of Soviet architecture this demands a certain amount of imagination from its audience, but the catalogue is outstanding. It offers access to universes and stories, includes personal narrations and descriptions of habits – all with inwrought historical material and supplemented by an archive and index. With this successful intersection of partly historical photo material and diverse narrations and analyses, this book sets a new standard in accounting for the past of architecture as part of cultural history under the paradigm of Soviet dictatorship. It puts the solemn photographs by Frédéric Chaubin into perspective. His almost text-free work “CCCP – Cosmit Communist Constructions Photographed”, which was published last year, merely transforms several of the buildings also shown at this exhibition into an unreal futuristic monumentality. In contrast, Soviet Modernism is set up like an explorative travel journal and tries to include the social dimension and the level of design practice. The comprehensive historical work of the political conditions in the Soviet Union could have been more detailed; they only fill three catalogue pages. Architekturzentrum Wien 1070 Vienna, Museumsquartier, Museumsplatz 1 Tel: +43 1 522 31 15 Fax: +43 1 522 31 17 email: office@azw.at http://www.azw.at Opening hours: daily from 10.00 to 19.00 hours

Architekturzentrum Wien
1070 Wien, Museumsquartier, Museumsplatz 1
Tel: +43 1 522 31 15, Fax: +43 1 522 31 17
Email: office@azw.at
Öffnungszeiten: tägl. 10-19h

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