BRUTALIST ARCHITECTURE IS experiencing something of a renaissance – or at the very least, a zombified second coming. With the opening of formerly sequestered countries in the Eastern Bloc and the ease of taking and sharing digital photos, hulking tower flats and concrete curiosities have emerged from behind the Iron Curtain. In the words of the authors, “The Iron Curtain was understood in the West as The Concrete Curtain. Everything behind it was perceived as mass produced and grey.”
Of course, not all surviving Brutalist architecture sits behind the former Iron Curtain: much of it exists not only in Western Europe, but in South America, Japan, Africa, and the Middle East. Unlike the recent This Brutal World, and other books that take a similarly global view of Brutalist architecture, Eastern Blocks keeps its focus intentionally limited to six cities: Moscow, Berlin, Warsaw, Budapest, Kyev, and Saint Petersburg. This allows the book to take a deeper dive into each of its respective cities, revealing lesser-seen buildings and showing a more domestic, even cozy, aspect of these generally forbidding buildings.
The book also includes maps of each city, with the locations of the buildings pictured. The book is a welcome addition to the study of Brutalist architecture, and its numerous photos of people relaxing, shopping, dining, and playing put a more human face on an architectural style that is easy to see as cold and faceless.
Eastern Blocks: Concrete Landscapes of the Former Eastern Bloc
Published by Zupagrafika. Contributors: David Navarro & Martyna Sobecka (Zupagrafika), Alexander Veryovkin, Balázs Csizik, Christopher Beanland
144pp, hardcover, 19 €
All images © Zupagrafika, 2019