Eastern Blocks: photographs of the brutalist towers of the former USSR

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/06/more-same-comrade.html

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At least the USSR housed its citizens…

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A gulag is a kind of housing, I suppose.

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With some pressure washing, some of those cement structures wouldn’t look all that bad.

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This looks really neat.
We’ve been to Budapest and Prague (this was in 2006 and 2007) and both times driving from the airport into the respective city centers, you most certainly see those Soviet era structures. Looking at google street view, they appear to not be as grey as before. More color has been added over time.

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2nd Photo: Imperial Star Destroyer Garbage Chute Outlet

3rd photo: I’m guessing somebody considered the blue/yellow/red ‘decorations’ to be a masterstroke.

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With rare exceptions, there’s little better evidence of an architect’s misanthropy and willingness to please penny-pinching bureaucrats (public sector or private) than his embrace of Brutalism.

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At first glance, the projects in South Bronx.

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… still… those long ass queues (not that long ago) to snag potatoes, cabbage, dried-fish and vodka. :confounded:

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And I now feel compelled to watch The Irony of Fate again.

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It’s more a kind of housing than what we keep migrant children in.

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A Soviet citizen goes to the market, and he can’t find the milk. He asks the shopkeeper, “don’t you have any milk?”

“No,” says the shopkeeper, “we don’t have any meat. The store that doesn’t have any milk is across the street!”

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That sounds like an actual soviet joke!

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It is.  

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“What would happen if Libya joined the Warsaw Pact?”
“Nothing for about twenty years. Then there would be a shortage of sand.”

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I didn’t realize it was a contest.

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TWOMILEBORRIS (n.)
A popular East European outdoor game in which the first person to reach the front of the meat queue wins, and the losers have to forfeit their bath plugs.
(Adams, Lloyd - The Meaning of Liff)

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So I’m one of those oddballs who finds brutalism can be beautiful or incredibly ugly. But I also recognize that that’s the privlaged perspective of not having to actually live in brutalist architecture. That’s why I’m looking forward to more of Kate Wagner’s essays on the subject at McMansion Hell…

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“Ugly or Beautiful?”
I’m on the side of “how can this even be a question?” I’ve never seen a piece of Brutalist architecture that I could describe as anything other than ugly.

After queuing for several hours at the butcher’s, a man reaches the front only to find the customer in front of him has had the last of the meat. Enraged, he starts to spout off about the iniquities and stupidities of the system, but someone in a trench coat approaches and puts a firm hand on his shoulder.

“Comrade,” says the mysterious figure, "you should be careful what you say, otherwise … " And he puts his fingers to his temple and mimes firing a pistol.

Shaken, the man heads home. As he walks in, he says to his wife, “You’ll never guess what happened at the butcher’s!”

“They’re out of meat?”

“Worse! They’re out of bullets!”

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