The Era of Stalinistic Architecture

During the 1920´s,  the Soviet Union saw many experiments in  literature, painting, design, film and other art forms. Also in architecture, although not many modernistic houses were built, after all. It all changed in the 1930´s.

Cinema Mir, Arkhangelsk. Photo: Pasi Pikkupeura

In Stalin´s Soviet Union only one kind of public architecture was allowed, a kind of brutal version of neoclassicism , sometimes even called ”vampyrism”. Swedish historian Peter Englund writes that the idea was to make the individual feel small – ”cheap finds from neoclassicism´s flea-market”. His Finnish colleague Matti Klinge does not agree, he finds the Stalinist skyscrapers in Moscow stylish. Architects themselves haven´t written too much about the subject, maybe because the relationship between architecture and power is so strong? It´s annoying, because the relationship is always there.

Photo by Pasi Pikkupeura

There are many similarities between Stalinist and Nazi-architecture. And also, in many other countries nationalistic elements were in fashion in the 1930´s. Minimalistic  functionalism was already out. Some say that the Finnish Parliament (1931) in Helsinki reminds of Fascist architecture in Mussolini´s  Italy.

The Stalinist style was not very practical, Soviet people needed apartments and so a more modern ”international” style was introduced after Stalin´s death in 1953. Concrete-element factories were often imported from France. In many towns, like Kandalaksha, Murmansk and Kirovsk, Stalinist buildings are now interesting, even attractive relics of the past.


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