Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed is a genre-defining photo book published by Taschen, edited by French photographer Frédéric Chaubin, who has deep-dived into a post-Sputnik era, documenting a period of design largely ignored by academia and mainstream architecture.
In these photographs, the viewer can explore the disappearing world of totalitarian structures, originally designed to dominate and exert omniscient power over civilians through both spectacular forms and austere aesthetics.
Over seven years, Chaubin traveled to USSR countries from the edge of the former empire, his lens focused on the innovative design of what he calls the fourth age of Soviet architecture. The project began by chance; a series of fortuitous encounters with architecture and architects from the former Soviet states led Chaubin to begin something of a ‘game’ in 2003: “Its rules were simple”, he explains, “to locate the diverse manifestations of this very different style of architecture.”
Built between 1970 and 1990, these dramatic structures illustrate the myriad unlikely ways that architecture blossomed after Stalin’s suppression of the avant-garde in the ’30s. While their concrete, totalitarian forms were the brick and mortar embodiment of a political ideology, what CCCP illustrates is that there was no dominant school that characterized this final age of Soviet architecture.
Defined by their lack of theme, this unexpected rebirth of imagination can be seen as an architectural response to the Soviet Union’s slow demise.
You can purchase the book online from Taschen here.