I go through phases of obsessions with various things from time to time-usually anthropological-type stuff, from the Amish to the Latter-Day Saints and so on, but for the last year or so, my current fascination of choice is Soviet- era architecture.
This one took even me by surprise, as I’m not remotely “into” architecture as a rule, and while urbexing appeals to be on an armchair enthusiast level, my general distaste of getting cold, wet and dirty have so far put the mockers on my getting up offa my sofa.
However, there is something very haunting to me about some of the communist-era architecture that can be found in Russia and other former Eastern bloc countries, and while that amount of concrete can never, I suppose, be considered to be beautiful per se, they do make for fascinating snapshots of Soviet life from the not so distant past.
I feel like I’m tuned into them in a horror-movie kind of creepy, interesting manner. They sing to me. I eat up images of this type, and the whole feel of such pictures makes me feel very Gothy.
I’m not the only one that finds all of this fascinating, although I strongly suspect that most other fans of Soviet architecture are better informed and more articulate about it, and there are a whole buttload of photobooks available to buy online catering to just this obsession. My favourite is this offering by photographer Frederic Chaubin, and various websites also have their own pages dedicated to such images too, such as this one.
The buildings that I particularly like are the ones that come with stories, either surrounding their construction, style or use, and some of them are pretty innovative, it cannot be denied.
This 70’s building:
For instance, was designed to offer the maximum amount of internal space with the smallest possible footprint, in order to minimise the impact of the building on the surrounding flora and fauna.
This Ukrainian building:
Is a health spa in the popular result of Yalta, but when it was under construction at the height of the cold war, American and British forces were convinced that the building was a missile launcher, because obvs!
Is the Institute of Robotics and Technical Cybernetics (yep, there is such a place) in St. Petersburg, and a more fit-for-purpose looking building I have never seen.
Finally, Pripyat, the abandoned town that previously served the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is a whole book’s worth of images all of its own. There are two places on my “must visit before I die” list of holiday destinations; this is one of them.
This Ferris wheel was never actually used, as the reactor melted down just days before its opening.
I would dearly love to speak to any urbexers, former Pripyat visitors, or other Goths and explorers who have visited any of these places in the flesh, or that share my obsession! If you have a story for me, please let me know. For more urbexing-style images from the former Soviet Union, have a look at Rebecca Litchfield’s work.
I also highly recommend checking out English Russia, for more pictures and a whole buttload of information too.