Socialist modernist gems from Tirana to Tashkent are under threat. These activists are trying to save them

Socialist modernist gems from Tirana to Tashkent are under threat. These activists are trying to save them

9 October 2019

There are numerous Instagram accounts paying homage to the concrete beauty of the former Socialist bloc, but few actively work to protect these often-unloved and neglected structures on the ground. The Socialist Modernism programme is a visual and social project that has been working online since 2013 to present some of the region’s most stunning architectural objects, dating from 1955 to 1991.

Carefully curated by the Romania/Moldova-based BACUBirou pentru Artă şi Cercetare Urbană (Bureau for Art and Urban Research), the Socialist Modernism programme aims to research and protect socialist-modernist architecture by creating a dialogue with public authorities and civil society. They hope to stop destructive DIY-style interventions from local residents, remove excessive advertising from the buildings’ facades, and get former Socialist bloc nations to recognise these structures as part of their national heritage.

“We strive to change the negative image of socialist-modernist heritage, which is still associated with the political regime under which it was built,” they told The Calvert Journal.

“We aim to revitalise this heritage not only for symbolic reasons, but because we believe in the architectural elements that managed to defy some of the ideological requirements of the era. The Socialist Modernism platform invites architects, urban planners, historians, conservationists, artists, activists, and anyone interested in this issue to contribute to and broaden the platform. Those who love this time in architecture can get involved on all social platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc), under the hashtag #SocialistModernism. All the information they provide will be published on our website under the name of the author.”

Check out their interactive map displaying everything from wonderful socialist modernist buildings, neighbourhoods and parks, to strange Soviet monuments in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and elsewhere.

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