Architecture I by

Capturing Siberian modernism – frozen architecture from the Atomic Age

Scattered across Siberia’s vast frozen landmass are cities and towns filled with concrete modernist buildings constructed during the postwar Soviet period.

Photographer Alexander Veryovkin shines a light on these far-flung brutalist developments in his new photographic book, Concrete Siberia: Soviet Landscapes of the Far North published by Zupagrafika.

A typical Yakutian Izba and a prefab panel block from the late 1980s. Photography: Alexander Veryovkin © Zupagrafika, 2020
A typical Yakutian Izba and a prefab panel block from the late 1980s. Photography: Alexander Veryovkin © Zupagrafika, 2020

Veryovkin traversed the Russian province’s most remote and extreme regions, such as the Ural Mountains and the Arctic Circle, to documents its extensive ‘microrayons’ – or residential complexes – in urban centres, as well as industrial monotowns and prefab panel blocks – or panelki – erected on permafrost.

In the introduction to the book, authors David Navarro and Martyna Sobecka describe these urban complexes as the anti-heroes of modernism because, they say, people would rather they didn’t exist – or take them for granted.

Oganer microrayon in the monotown of Norilsk. Photography: Alexander Veryovkin © Zupagrafika, 2020
Oganer microrayon in the monotown of Norilsk. Photography: Alexander Veryovkin © Zupagrafika, 2020

Siberia saw the development as a new wave of colonisation, built with serialised, cookie-cutter prefab designs imported from Moscow and shoe-horned into place in the tundra.

Some Siberian architects, however, were ‘bold enough to develop their own vision of modernist and brutalist architecture moulded to fit the newly developed urban landscapes and severe climate of this region.’

Veryovkin snaps these angular and Atomic Age concrete behemoths against stark white skies and snowy landscapes as their inhabitants going about their daily lives.

‘Concrete Siberia: Soviet Landscapes of the Far North’ is published by Zupagrafika

State Circus of Krasnoyarsk (built in 1971). Photography: Alexander Veryovkin © Zupagrafika, 2020
State Circus of Krasnoyarsk (built in 1971). Photography: Alexander Veryovkin © Zupagrafika, 2020
TETs-5 electric power station, Tsentralny District, Omsk. Photography: Alexander Veryovkin © Zupagrafika, 2020
TETs-5 electric power station, Tsentralny District, Omsk. Photography: Alexander Veryovkin © Zupagrafika, 2020
The Omsk Blinov Sports and Concerts Complex (built in 1986). Photography: Alexander Veryovkin © Zupagrafika, 2020
The Omsk Blinov Sports and Concerts Complex (built in 1986). Photography: Alexander Veryovkin © Zupagrafika, 2020

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