Possibly the first time I have ever pre-ordered a book, as soon as I saw images from this book in the Guardian I knew I had to get it. On a trip to Berlin last year I became increasingly interested in the scale and conviction with which GDR architects undertook their brutalist re-workings of the cityscape of the east side of the city. There is a purity of vision in the strong lines and minimalist structures that can, when done well, create form that is imposing & striking, as well as functional.
The buildings in this book fall into an interesting period in the 70s and 80s when the Soviet Union’s repressive authority on all aesthetic undertakings was beginning to weaken as the Soviet Union itself was going into decline, freeing it from this brutalist style and allowing an exuberant flowering of diverse structures. They took on board regional accents and incorporated modernist tendencies and then pushed them in all sorts of exotic directions.
It is as if, growing old, the Soviet net grew slack, allowing big holes of freedom to form between its gaping threads…these buildings designed at the hinge of different worlds, in which sci-fi futurism conjoins with monumentalism, constitute one of the most disconcerting manifestations of the dying USSR.
The photography in the book is comprised of tremendously well executed art-shots printed indulgently large, presenting the inspirational subject matter in the best possible way.