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Soviet Modernism:
The City of Tomorrow

"The City of Tomorrow" is an ongoing research and exhibition project on the life and afterlife of the Soviet city. This website serves as the exhibition’s digital dossier, providing introductory articles and additional content on Soviet Modernism and its links to Germany. Consisting of a traveling core and changing local extensions with a focus on architecture and urbanism, the exhibition is presented by the Goethe-Institut with support from Tranzit.at in several major cities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, starting with Yerevan, Minsk, Moscow, and Novosibirsk in 2019/20.

  • The Saturn Widescreen Cinema, Tolyatti, Russia | Architects: M. Bubnov, V. Lazarev, I. Semeikin, E. Ter-Stepanov, engineer: V. Nemirovsky, 1971 | Photo from Soviet postcard © Research group "Modernism - Tolyatti"
    The Saturn Widescreen Cinema, Tolyatti, Russia | Architects: M. Bubnov, V. Lazarev, I. Semeikin, E. Ter-Stepanov, engineer: V. Nemirovsky, 1971 | Photo from Soviet postcard
  • A panoramic cinema, graduation project, Moscow Institute of Architecture | By E. Kuznetsov, supervisors: M. P. Parusnikov, G. Y. Movchan, S. Kh. Satunts, 1959 © Moscow Institute of Architecture
    A panoramic cinema, graduation project, Moscow Institute of Architecture | By E. Kuznetsov, supervisors: M. P. Parusnikov, G. Y. Movchan, S. Kh. Satunts, 1959
  • Ministry of Transportation, Tbilisi, Georgia | Architects: George Chakhava, Zurab Jalaghania, T. Tkhilava, V. Kimberg, 1974 © George Chakhava's personal archive collected and selected by Vahram Aghasyan, Nini Palavandishvili and Lali Pertenava as a part of Frozen moments. Architecture Speaks Back curated by Joanna Warsza, Tbilisi, 2010
    Ministry of Transportation, Tbilisi, Georgia | Architects: George Chakhava, Zurab Jalaghania, T. Tkhilava, V. Kimberg, 1974
  • Komitas Chamber Music Theater, Yerevan, Armenia | Architect: Stepan Kyurkchyan, 1968-1977 © Kyurkchyan Archive
    Komitas Chamber Music Theater, Yerevan, Armenia | Architect: Stepan Kyurkchyan, 1968-1977
  • Karl Marx Library, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan | Architects: Abdullah Akhmedov, Boris Shpak, Vladimir Alekseyev, 1960-1975, sculptor: Vadim Kosmatschof, 1975 © Archive Kosmatschof
    Karl Marx Library, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan | Architects: Abdullah Akhmedov, Boris Shpak, Vladimir Alekseyev, 1960-1975, sculptor: Vadim Kosmatschof, 1975
  • Kalkauz, design for a prototype micro-district development, Tashkent, Uzbekistan | Architects: Sabir Rakhimov, Andrey Kosinskiy, project leaders: Gennady Korobovtsev, Georgy Grigoryants, et al., 1978 (unrealized) © Andrey Kosinskiy
    Kalkauz, design for a prototype micro-district development, Tashkent, Uzbekistan | Architects: Sabir Rakhimov, Andrey Kosinskiy, project leaders: Gennady Korobovtsev, Georgy Grigoryants, et al., 1978 (unrealized)
  • Residential complex, Almaty, Kazakhstan | Photo: Markus Weisbeck (In the context of the project Local Modernities) Markus Weisbeck
    Residential complex, Almaty, Kazakhstan | Photo: Markus Weisbeck (In the context of the project Local Modernities)
  • Augustitorm Arhitektuuris [August Storm in Architecture], Avo-Himm Looveer, 1982 © Avo-Himm Looveer
    Augustitorm Arhitektuuris [August Storm in Architecture], Avo-Himm Looveer, 1982
  • Park of Memory/Crematorium, Kiev, Ukraine | Architect: A. Miletsky, artists: Y. Melnichenko, A. Rybachuk, 1968-1980 | Photo by Nvard Yerkanyan Nvard Yerkanyan
    Park of Memory/Crematorium, Kiev, Ukraine | Architect: A. Miletsky, artists: Y. Melnichenko, A. Rybachuk, 1968-1980 | Photo by Nvard Yerkanyan
  • Avrora architecture bureau, landscaping feature in the village of Sokur, design documentation | Architect: Vyacheslav Mizin, 1987 © V. Mizin
    Avrora architecture bureau, landscaping feature in the village of Sokur, design documentation | Architect: Vyacheslav Mizin, 1987

Exhibition
“​​The City of Tomorrow"

The City of Tomorrow © Goethe-Institut Moscow, photo by Sergey Kuzmin

The City of Tomorrow presents the evolution of Soviet modernist architectural heritage from its genesis in the 1920s and its revival from the late 1950s through to the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as this patrimony’s patchwork survival in the former republics of the Soviet empire today. Sometimes as decaying ruin, other times as an adaptive re-use project, this legacy — with its own masters, local dialects, and unsung masterpieces — tells a story that was afflicted by inner contradictions and idiosyncrasy, much as it developed within a seemingly homogenized space. “The City of Tomorrow” explores this landscape and its expansive reshaping at the hands of an architectural culture that sought to build a fundamentally different idea of society than the neoliberal order many Soviet successor states face today.


Soviet Modernism


Building(s) of the month

Three manifesto projects: these are developments from three architectural periods — constructivism, post-war modernism, and post-modernism. Some are unrealized, some are partially realized, and some are unrealized. These three projects are concepts of transformation of the utopian and fantastic into the realistic.

A standard block of brick flats for four households with duplex apartments and a complete set of modern conveniences, from the Gerard system, type C. Kemerovo. Architect J. van Loghem // The 1920s © The I.V. Zakharova archives

Kuzbass Autonomous Industrial Colony

A social experiment conducted in 1921-1927 in the territory of present-day Kemerovo

The First West-Siberian Agricultural, Forest, Trade and Industry Exhibition. The Pavilion of Siberian Studies. Omsk. Architect Leonid Chernyshev // 1911 © The Library of Congress

First West-Siberian Agricultural and Industry Exhibition

A site for implementing the boldest architectural fantasies

A street perspective. Architectural graphics. Omsk. A.V. Linetsky // The 1920s © Mikhail Vrubel Arts Museum

Khudprom College Omsk

The industrial arts college founded under Narkompros 


Podcast
"Siberian Modernism"

Podcast: Siberian Modernism

The Goethe-Institut in Novosibirsk is launching a series of podcasts about architectural modernism in Siberia. In a series of talks with experts, the Novosibirsk artist and curator Anton Karmanov discusses the key phenomena and periods of architectural modernism in Siberia. In his talks with experts, he seeks an answer to the question of what ‘Siberian modernism’ and ‘the Novosibirsk architectural school’ are. Do they exist, and, if so, what characterizes them?


Longread
"El Lissitzky and Sophie Küppers: A Romance with the Avant-garde"

A cover of Wendingen magazine. State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia © State Tretyakov Gallery

Zum 130. Geburtstag des weltweit bekannten Malers El Lissitzky veröffentlicht das Goethe-Institut Nowosibirsk ein Longread des Nowosibirsker Kunstkritikers Sergej Samoilenko. In diesem verflechten sich das Schicksal von El Lissitzky als hervorragendem Vertreter der russischen Avantgarde und dessen Familie mit seiner Kunst und den Nowosibirsker Underground-Ausstellungen in Akademgorodok während der Tauwetter-Periode zu einer Filmserie, deren Figuren sich auf unvorstellbare Abenteuer einlassen und auf unglaubliche Proben um der Kunst willen gestellt werden.


Short film
Steel-City

Steel-City © Goethe-Institut

In the framework of ‘The City of Tomorrow’ exhibition, Goethe-Institut in Novosibirsk presents a short ballet film titled ‘Stal-Gorod’ (‘Steel-City’). Through the prism of dance, music, and cinema, the modern artists reconsider and interpret the architectural legacy of Soviet modernism.


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