Time Travel Tuesday: Space-Age Buildings of the USSR

August 2, 2011

It’s time for another round of Time Travel Tuesday with our friend Sara of Brown Paper Bag!!! This week she covered the work of of photographer Frederic Chaubin, who captures strange, space-age architecture in the former USSR! And over at BPB I wrote about Clifton Karhu, “the blue-eyed japanese,” an American-born artist who became one of the most famous and talented contemporary japanese printmakers!

In my personal work, I’ve been interested in architecture, which sprouted from early art instruction videos that I received from my public library. They emphasized, among other things, an imagination station built in space. This series could be its own Time Travel Tuesday, but what stuck with me were the buildings that the teacher had drawn, and ones that I am still seem to be drawing today.

Real life application of the imagination station comes in the form of old soviet Russia buildings. Frederic Chaubin is a photographer who has caught these on buildings on film, which looked as though they could be from science fiction films. These buildings break away from conventional skyscrapers that I’m used to seeing.  They are not afraid to play with scale, have a lack of right angles, and seem like a general feat to build.

Frederic, who was interviewed by the now-defunct Japanese magazine Ping Mag in 2006, had this light to shed on the buildings:

[Ping Mag]: All of the buildings in the photos you took look like something from Sci-Fi films. Were there many of these buildings in the Soviet Union?

[Frederic Chaubin]: Well, these are more like an accident. If you see the photographs all together in a small space like here, you might feel like there are quite a lot of these buildings around, but actually there are very few of them. You have to imagine that if you go to each Russian town you will only find one or two very special buildings there. But most of them are very boring and look very similar, and those here are the exceptions.

[Ping Mag]: Why were they built over 20, 30 years ago?

[Frederic Chaubin]: It is difficult to figure out where the idea came from. The possible reason is because the USSR used to be a huge country with no homogeneity. Also, there were only very few connections to the rest of the world. So, most of the architects didn’t know what was happening outside of the Soviet Union.

images via ping mag, the guardian, and drum of glass.

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3 Responses to Time Travel Tuesday: Space-Age Buildings of the USSR

  1. Andrea on August 2, 2011 at 1:50 am

    These pictures are incredible – it’s put the ex-USSR right up top of my must-visit list.

    Andrea x

  2. » My Time Travel Tuesday post on Big Things on August 2, 2011 at 9:58 am

    [...] Brown Paper Bag on Big Things! [...]

  3. teresita on August 3, 2011 at 4:57 am

    Those buildings are incredible! What a challenge for the architects and construction workers! How incredible the cold war effects are….

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