TOWERING CONCRETE SCULPTURES inlaid with bright tiles, Brutalist housing blocks adorned with intricate patterns: the structures of post-Soviet Central Asia are a study in east-west contrasts, and include some of the stranger relics of the Cold War era.
Lenin monument (1965). Istaravshan, Tajikistan. Photo: Stefano Perego.
In Soviet Asia, another attractive entry in Fuel Publishing’s ongoing documentation of Soviet-era architecture, photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego document the monumental public works of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Many of the photos are framed to play up the stuctures’ characteristic patterns: concrete “rafters” radiating outward from tent-like circular roofs, or the cascading beehive-like tessellations of countless apartment balconies.
Aul housing complex, by B. Voronin, L. Andreyeva, Y. Ratushny, V. Lepeshov and V. Vi (1986). Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo: Roberto Conte.
Similar to Fuel’s other titles documenting architectural odds-and-ends of the former USSR (including Soviet Bus Stops and Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums), the book uses a landscape format with a single image per page, giving each photo sufficient space to stand on its own. While the photos themselves are presented without commentary, the foreword and afterword (by guest scholars Marco Buttino and Alessandro de Magistris, respectively) provide some welcome context for those looking to educate themselves on the architectural history of an often-overlooked region.
Circus, by L. Segal, I. Shadrin, D. Leontyev, V. Mironovich and A. Nezhurin (1976). Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: Stefano Perego.
Chorsu Bazaar, by S. Adylov, Y. Miroshnichenko, V. Iskhakbayev (1980). Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Photo: Stefano Perego.
State Academic Russian Theatre for children and young people (former Palace of Culture AHBK), by A. Petrova, Z. Mustafina, G. Dzhakipova, G. Stulov, G. Nikitin and artists Y. Funkorenko, V. Tverdokhlebov (1981). Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo: Roberto Conte.
Hotel Kazakhstan, by Y. Ratushny, L. Ukhobotov, A. Anchugov and V. Kashtanov (1977). Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo: Stefano Perego.
By Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego
FUEL Publishing, £22.50