Building the Communist Dream

“In revolutionary climates, literally anything seems possible. Not only can streets, cities and states be renamed, even the calendar can be reorganised. Everything can be engineered towards the goal of reforming and reformulating existence.

“The Bolshevik-led October Revolution ushered in a new era in what would become the USSR. Not only would political and economic systems be abolished and replaced by Communism, there would be a project to create ‘Soviet Man’, which would entail re-education of men and women previously shackled by the bourgeois capitalism that existed under Russia’s monarchical tyranny. The individual was no longer considered a private person with concealed (and potentially suspect) beliefs and selfish interests; Soviet Man would control the means of production and govern the state as part of a collective. But in return he must forgo his private self-interest.

“Architecture was to play a crucial role in the revolutionary intention to create Soviet Man. This is captured by Imagine Moscow, a new exhibition of art, textiles, posters and architectural plans at London’s Design Museum, which examines six Soviet architectural projects for Moscow, dating from the 1920s and 1930s….”

Read the full review at Spiked, 10 April 2017, here: http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/building-the-communist-dream/19638#.WOtgEs8rLIU

You can’t hide from history

“The Austrian government is taking steps to seize and destroy Hitler’s birthplace. The house where Hitler was born in 1889 is a terrace building in Braunau am Inn, Upper Austria. Recently, it has been a private residence and a care centre for the elderly. Since the centre closed, the Austrian central government has been negotiating with Frau Gerlinde Pommer, the owner, with the expressed intention of demolishing the building. As justification, the government has cited vague concerns about the building becoming a focus for neo-Nazi supporters. The demolition plans are opposed by historians, local residents and even spokesmen for minority groups.

The owner is unwilling to sell, and see a part of the historical fabric of the town destroyed, so the government is now seeking to pass a law allowing it to seize the property (with compensation). This is a draconian solution to an invented crisis…”

Read the full article online on Spiked, 13 December 2016 here: http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/you-cant-hide-from-history-austria-hitler-birthplace/19100#.WFBZdvl_s5k

 

In Praise of Brutalism

“If you took a poll of the most unpopular – even hated – buildings in Britain, the likelihood is that it would include more Brutalist buildings than buildings in any other style. These giant, domineering structures in unpainted concrete have come to symbolise modernist architects’ arrogance and wrongheaded social housing. Their imposing presence has changed the face of British cities.

“Launching Brutal Utopias, a series of events to promote understanding of Brutalism, Joseph Watson, creative director of the National Trust, defines Brutalism as a distinct strand within modernism: ‘Brutalism took the principle of honesty in architecture further, arguing that buildings should have aesthetic and ethical integrity. Brutalism became particularly associated with a material, too: concrete.’ Brutalism adhered to the truth-to-materials principle of modernism. ‘Honest’ artists would not attempt to disguise the material components they used. Watson concedes that although concrete has dynamic sculptural potential, ‘it has never been much-loved by the public at large, which begins to explain the deeply divided reactions to this architecture’.

“Watson puts the case for Brutalism as the equivalent of modern sculpture…”

Read the whole article online on SPIKED, 28 September 2015, here:

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/in-praise-of-brutalism/17483#.VglxU_ldU5k