Conference on Postwar Soviet Architecture

We tend to think that the history of postwar architecture and urban planning has been written. Yet upon closer observation the map of canonized perceptions of Modernism reveals a number of white areas and blind spots. Among the most fascinating is an architectural landscape that unfolded in the Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 and continued until the fall of he Soviet Empire in 1990. The period bred a highly ideological architectonical practice that was guarded by a central planning bureaucracy. But under this banner experimental architecture still blossomed and a variety of locally distinct “parallel modernities” were developed. This conference attempts to correct the one-dimensional Western view of Modernism and to demonstrate a Parallel Modernity made up of unique masterpieces, megalomanical housing structures and approaches to urban planning that imagined cities and public spaces as metaphors for socialist ideas of contemporary and future life.

Architects, who were building during the period, together with art historians and theoreticians, will reflect on how the machinery of urban planning worked, giving an insight into a very specific period of Soviet architecture. The audience will be introduced to architects that by no means produced only monotonous concrete-slab housing developments, but who in part demonstrated original approaches to urban planning and in many ways manifested thematic and design parallels with Western architectural concerns of the time.

Simultaneous translation from Russian to English will be provided for the first session of the conference; followed by simultaneous translation from English to Turkish for the second and third sessions.

On view at SALT Galata from May 8 until August 11, the exhibition Trespassing Modernities is supported by Kalebodur; the affiliated conference is supported by the İstanbul Austrian Cultural Office and tranzit.at.

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