DURING THE FINAL decades of the Soviet Union, architects found themselves freer to create unconventional structures than at any point in the country’s history. This was particularly true in the republics outside Russia, where, while cursory tributes still had to be paid to overarching socialist ideals, the structures themselves took on a dizzying array of forms.


Photographer Frédéric Chaubin has documented 90 of these structures, spread across the furthest extremes of the empire: Russia, the Baltic states, Eastern and Southern Europe, Central Asia, the far east, and even outliers like Kaliningrad and Cuba, in styles ranging from brutalist to kitsch to neo-ethno-historical. Many of the featured buildings eschew the monolithic, rectangular outlines often associated with Communist architecture and instead use circles and spheres, triangles and pyramids, and a wild assortment of directly symbolic forms (hands, faces, animals, flames, and even free-form geometry).


Though the structures featured date from the 1970s onward, some were destroyed around or after the fall of the USSR and only exist as archival photographs. These pictures, often black-and-white, are among the more otherworldly in the book, and often feel like stills from lost sci-fi films.

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The oversized edition gives most of its space to the photographs, with spreads spanning multiple pages and captions in English, French, and German. All in all, it’s a stunning collection of photographs, sure to hold at least a few surprises for even the most seasoned fans of strange and lost architecture.

CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed
By Frédéric Chaubin
Taschen, €39.99
All images © Taschen Books