Art & Culture / Photography

Exploring the beauty of brutalism through photography

Take a journey through Soviet architecture with photographer Frédéric Chaubin.

French photographer and editor-in-chief of Citizen K Frédéric Chaubin discovered a whole new world of history on his travels. Naming it the the fourth age of Soviet architecture, the artist travelled through 2003 to 2010 researching hidden buildings in 14 former Soviet Republics. Finding 90 buildings believed to have all been created between 1970 and 1990, Chaubin discovered an unknown burgeoning era of architecture. Explained as representing “a chaotic impulse brought about by a decaying system”, unlike the well known 1920s and 1950s Communist creations, these buildings belong to no school, follow no trends and show remnants of a long gone culture.

Collating these findings into a photographic masterpiece, the architectural book is now a world renowned piece of Taschen’s archive. Explaining the vast diversity of the project, the book uncovers mesmerising new styles of architectural change:

Some of the daring ones completed projects that the Constructivists would have dreamt of (Druzhba Sanatorium, Yalta), others expressed their imagination in an expressionistway (Palace of Weddings, Tbilisi). A summer camp, inspired by sketches of a prototype lunar base, lays claim to Suprematist influence (Prometheus youth camp, Bogatyr). Then comes the “speaking architecture” widespread in the last years of the USSR: a crematorium adorned with concrete flames (Crematorium, Kiev), a technological institute with a flying saucer crashed on the roof (Institute of Scientific Research, Kiev), a political center watching you like Big Brother (House of Soviets, Kaliningrad).

Serving as remnants of memories, the buildings capture a significant historical moment, and an even more powerful, aesthetic architectural one.

Frédéric Chaubin’s Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed is available now from Taschen for £ 35 online here, scroll down to take a look inside the captivating book.

31 January 2019