Landscapes of Communism Summary Ê 109

Owen Hatherley ✓ 9 Free read

Landscapes of Communism Summary Ê 109 ✓ [Read] ➱ Landscapes of Communism ➹ Owen Hatherley – 'In the craven world of architectural criticism Hatherley is that rarest of things a brave incisive elegant and erudite writer whose books dissect the contemporary built environment to reveal the poli 'In tVolution Kiev the buildings their most obvious legacy remain populated by people whose lives were scattered and jeopardized by the collapse of communism and the introduction of capitalism Landscapes of Communism is an intimate history of twentieth century communist Europe told through its buildings it is too a book about power and what power does in cities In exploring what that power was Hatherley shows how much we can understand from surfaces especially states as obsessed with surface as the Soviets were Walking through these landscapes today Hatherley discovers how in contrast to the common dismissal of 'monolithic' Soviet architecture these cities reflect with disconcerting transparency the develo. This is a weighty tome beautifully typeset with correct diactritics and bound with better uality photographs than the author’s previous books but with a word count probably twice as large I enjoyed it but it took me a very long time to read it in contrast to New Ruins and Bleak through which I whizzedThe classification of eight types of buildings and landscapes is inspired and the discussion of each of them with countless examples is comprehensive Clearly the author has done very thorough research; I learned a lot about history of the former Soviet Bloc countries The enthusiasm for the metro systems in particular comes across with great verve and the feelings inspired by the various memorials and museums are almost as good as being there oneself I am now inspired to visit some weird and wonderful places well off the tourist trail Also the first person narrative and personal anecdote is entertaining and I would actually have enjoyed of it just like in A New Kind of BleakFor anyone with than a passing interest in the former Soviet Bloc countries which were so mysterious to those of us growing up in the 1970s and ’80s I would say that this book is a must read but you’ll have to give it a lot of time and attention to get the best from it

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Pment of an idea over the decades with its sharp sudden zigzags of official style from modernism to classicism and back to the superstitious despotic rococo of high Stalinism with its jingoistic memorials palaces and secret policemen's castles East Germany's obsession with prefabricated concrete panels and the metro systems of Moscow and Prague a spectacular vindication of public space that went further than any avant garde ever daredBut most of all Landscapes of Communism is a revelatory journey of discovery plunging us into the maelstrom of socialist architecture As we submerge into the metros walk the massive multi lane magistrale and pause at milk bars in the microrayons who knows what we might fi. Outside of some specific architectural terms I don't think this book is as impenetrable as some have suggested Hatherley writes well even if he does seem a bit of a prig at times His sympathies obviously lie with socialism and I'm inclined to disagree with a few of the concrete efforts he champions but this doesn't make this any less of an enjoyable journey around the former communist states This is going to sound a bit facile but it could do with pictures It's great that a lot of the images are ones he and his girlfriend took or come from old postcards but there are so many structures described that I spent a fair bit of time checking them out on my phone as I was reading

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Landscapes of Communism'In the craven world of architectural criticism Hatherley is that rarest of things a brave incisive elegant and erudite writer whose books dissect the contemporary built environment to reveal the political fantasies and social realities it embodies' Will SelfDuring the course of the twentieth century communism took power in Eastern Europe and remade the city in its own image Ransacking the urban Landscapes of MOBI #10003 planning of the grand imperial past it set out to transform everyday life its sweeping boulevards epic high rise and vast housing estates an emphatic declaration of a non capitalist idea Now the regimes that built them are dead and long gone but from Warsaw to Berlin Moscow to post Re. 4 stars for interesting content not for clarity and styleFor what might be accurately called “townscapes journalist Owen Hatherley presents a detailed at times indigestible analysis of Soviet era architecture Despite limited finances he managed to roam uite widely with firsthand impressions of Moscow Berlin Kiev during the recent demonstrations on the Maidan the remains of Ceaucescu’s Bucharest Warsaw Vilnius even Shanghai to name the main cities visitedEach starting with a relevant uotation the chapters are themed the “magistrales” or wide boulevards cut through cities to permit state orchestrated demonstrations of power; the massive impersonal to the point of being soulless suburban blocks of apartments to house large numbers of workers as fast as possible; “houses of the people” to encourage suitable social activities; palatial metros some stations ironically built in Moscow at the height of Stalin’s Reign of Terror There is even a chapter on uirky examples of improvisation extra rooms tacked onto the sides of high rise flats and self managed tower blocks in New Belgrade like the Genex resembling two enormous linked grain silos Themes are set in context by an initial introduction on the nature and aims of Soviet architectureI learned a good deal from this book I had not realised how much Soviet styles varied in a relatively short period and liked Paperny’s useful if simplistic definition of “Culture One” Modernism dynamic with horizontal structures low long and linear as opposed to “Culture Two” Stalinist with its “monumental solid massive immovable” vertical structures These harked back to past grandeur for the frontages of “people’s palaces” intended as spacious flats for ordinary workers as in East Berlin’s flagship project Stalinallee together with major buildings like Moscow State University with their stepped ziggurats and the “Socialist Realism” of the huge stylised statues of patriotic workersI had not considered how “Utopian Soviet planners” rejected distinct urban uarters as a survival of “obsolete capitalist structures” so that individuality was only possible through chance variations in a site Even under Krushchev’s less extreme regime decrees led to an “International Style” extending between the far flung borders with Scandinavia Afghanistan and Japan with identical standardised plans down to the use of the same mass produced doorknobIronically the “social condensers” constructed to provide under one roof a variety of activities to create good socialist citizens often became rare examples of creative “one off” architecture such as Melnikov’s Rusakov Workers' Centre in MoscowI accept that for reasons of economy only small grainy black and white photographs are used but they are often not placed right next to the relevant text Some buildings like the famous Dessau Törten cubic houses of Gropius are described without the inclusion of any photograph at all which is like a radio programme explaining how to make a complicated origami bird Hatherley’s prose is a little too leaden to get away with this Key points may be lost in his verbose and sometimes opaue style To cite one small example he writes that “Modernists of the interwar period havebecome pejorative for their hostility to the street” Does he mean that they became pejorative about the use of streets in urban design or that their hostility to streets has aroused criticism from others The latter include Jonathan Raban who argues that to “kill the streetcuts the heart of cities as they are actually used and lived in” Hatherley’s lack of clarity matters because it is confusing The omission of the construction dates of many developments discussed is also unhelpfulConcepts like Modernism and Constructivism need concise definitions and a glossary of terms and architects would have been useful for reference The book would have been effective with fewer examples each with a better photograph and concise text When I took the trouble to find buildings on Google images I could understand much better what the author was getting at but it is cumbersome to read a book in this way