We are happy to present a new publication by SWU group – Urban Planning and Architecture of Late Socialism. Ed. by Daria Bocharnikova & Andres Kurg. A special issue of The Journal of Architecture Volume 24 (5) 2019.
This special issue brings together five articles, presented in Second World Urbanity Conferences in St. Petersburg and Lviv, focusing on architecture and urban planning in the Soviet Union (and in one case, its export to Afghanistan) from the 1960s to the 1980s, in the period of so-called late socialism.
Discussing topics that range from cybernetics in town planning, development cooperation in urbanism, to mechanisms of assigning pan-Soviet architectural awards, and the post-industrial models of life represented in the works of the Moscow architecture group NER, it traces the changes in the institutional and discursive structures of the architectural profession during the decades that were politically marked by the shift from Khrushchev’s optimism in rebuilding the communist society to Leonid Brezhnev’s Realpolitik.
If this changing political superstructure is not always directly addressed in the papers, it forms a backdrop to many of the discussions in Soviet architecture that in turn allows us to rethink the prevailing assumptions about these years.
In contrast to many recent histories of the late or developed socialism that take account of the era primarily through the shifts in values and emotional states in everyday life — cynicism, apathy, withdrawal — this issue turns to the changes in socialist institutions, and in the discourses of science and technology, that left their imprint on architectural and planning practices. In this way, it feeds into a new reading of the late Soviet period as a time of ongoing social experimentation.
Introduction: urban planning and architecture of late socialism
Daria Bocharnikova & Andres Kurg
The cybernetic eye: scientific planning in the Soviet Mikroraion
Building institutions in Kabul in the 1960s. Sites, spaces and architectures of development cooperation
Baltic mikroraions and kolkhoz settlements within the Soviet architectural award system
The NER project: a vision of post-industrial urbanity from post-Stalin Russia
Free communication: from Soviet future cities to kitchen conversations