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"Socialist Architecture" and World Heritage

 
Author Solivagant
Partaker
#1 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 05:05 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I have just come cross this ICOMOS document ( "Socialist Realism and Socialist Modernism World Heritage Proposals from Central and Eastern Europe" ) which seems to be both of general interest re our "Top 50 Missing" and T List additions subjects and specific interest following El's recent review of the "Architectural Ensemble of Francysk Scaryna Avenue in Minsk (1940s –1950s)" - which is given a section in the document -

It contains the "Documentation of the European expert meeting of ICOMOS on the feasibility of an international serial nomination of 20th century monuments and sites in post-socialist countries for the UNESCO World Heritage List – Warsaw, 14th–15th of April 2013"

Unfortunately I have (so far!) been unable to find any report of the meeting's "conclusions" so we don't know if it was decided whether this possible approach was the best one for inscribing such buildings!

Examples from a fairly wide range of Former "Communist" countries are provided (Including the "National Schools of Art, Cubanacan"!) but nothing at all from Russia itself.

See - http://www.icomos.de/pdf/Heft_LVIII.pdf

Author clyde
Partaker
#2 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 05:27 
During my recent trip to Moscow I really enjoyed visiting the VDNKh and the soviet pavilions. It would be great to have a transnational inscription although perhaps quite difficult to achieve politically as some countries clearly want to shirk any former ties with Russia.

Author elsslots
Admin
#3 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 07:33 | Edited by: elsslots 
Solivagant:
Unfortunately I have (so far!) been unable to find any report of the meeting's "conclusions" so we don't know if it was decided whether this possible approach was the best one for inscribing such buildings!

The answer is in the last line of my previous blog post about Minsk!: http://www.worldheritagesite.org/blog/blog.html#116

" has been initially decided that the nomination will include Karl Marx Allee in Berlin as the main socialist street in Eastern Berlin, Independence Avenue in Minsk, Khreshchatyk in Kiev, Moscow Avenue in Kharkov, Marszalkowska Street in Warsaw."

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#4 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 07:42 | Edited by: Solivagant 
elsslots:
The answer is in the last line of my previous blog post about Minsk!:

Sorry Els -I hadn't picked up on the fact that you had already identified this report and had discussed it - there is just so much "going on" in so many different "places" on the Web site - Forum, individual reviews, your blog!! I had noted your blog entry but hadn't noticed the reference - my fault!

Author elsslots
Admin
#5 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 07:48 | Edited by: elsslots 
And you have all day!

Seriously, it is an exciting possible new nomination. According to the Minsk news item, the nomination is at least sponsored by Germany. I wonder whether they're heading the nomination too. Since their long waiting list of national nominations and limited success in recent years, I'd say it would be better if another country (Poland? Belarus?) would take the nomination forward.

Author elsslots
Admin
#6 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 07:53 
clyde:
some countries clearly want to shirk any former ties with Russia.

Russia indeed is the obvious missing one from this nomination, and that may be a costly decision during an ICOMOS evaluation. Choosing exactly the right serial elements has proven to be difficult over the last years (think of the Le Corbusier site).

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#7 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 08:05 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Solivagant:
Sorry Els -I hadn't picked up on the fact that you had already identified this report

Even the route by which I found it didn't come via Minsk and your blog but by a totally different and coincidental logic!
a. I noted that Mir had been deferred earlier in order to carry out a "Comparative Study" of Castles in Central Europe
b. I remember several other sites having been "deferred" to carry out a "Comparative Study" e.g Rohtas Fort
c. But I never see these Studies!! Are they actually ever carried out?
d. I wondered if I could either find any of them or else find a third site which was ordered to have one, for a potential Connection
e. I started Googling "ICOMOS studies" etc with various other key words
f. Up came this one on Socialist Architecture and I didn't know/remember that you had referred to the exact same report!!!! Pure coincidence!

Author elsslots
Admin
#8 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 08:29 | Edited by: elsslots 
Solivagant:
"Comparative Study" of Castles in Central Europe

I've also looked for it, but cannot find it.
There actually aren't many Central- and Eastern European Castles on the List. Malbork is the prominent one. Others are mostly palaces of later date. Lithuania's Trakai (the closest comparison to Mir that I can think of) was withdrawn in 2005, after a rejection advice from ICOMOS and without reference to any comparative study among castles. Also no comparison is made to Mir, which is odd.

Author Assif
Partaker
#9 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 10:30 
Solivagant:
This shows the history of Vlkolinec's inscription. It says it is the region's "most complete group of these kinds of log houses"
http://whc.unesco.org/archive/periodicreporting/EUR/cycle01/section2/622-summary.pdf

Vlkolinec didn't get inscribed until ICOMOS carried out a comparative study on
"Traditional Villages in the Carpathian Basin and its immediate surroundings". It was complimented on this study but I have been unable to find it anywhere on the UNESCO or ICOMOS sites or anywhere else on the Web. One presumes it might have mentioned Cicmany as a comparator.


Author Assif
Partaker
#10 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 10:38 
Solivagant:
I wondered if I could either find any of them or else find a third site which was ordered to have one, for a potential Connection

Vlkolinec, Fort Jesus, Skogskzrkogarden, Salamanca, Roskilde, Lunenburg, Senegambia, Paquime, Semmering, Bremen, Kunta Kinteh, Ban Chiang, Rohtas, Mir

Author elsslots
Admin
#11 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 10:42 | Edited by: elsslots 
I'm moving this Connection Discussion over to a new Connection topic, so we can leave this one for Socialist Realism (interesting enough in its own way)

Author Colvin
Partaker
#12 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 12:03 | Edited by: Colvin 
Thanks for the link and starting this topic, Solivagant. I enjoyed reading through the document you linked, and some of the recommendations sounded promising. These included:

Buzludzha (Bulgaria) -- As a testament to the failed dream of communism, and the people's reaction to it. I thought the visual comparison between the original building and the current condition was particularly striking (though I imagine the structure might have to be cleaned up/shored up for safety and access).

National Schools of Art (Cuba) -- I'd never considered what a hybrid between Spanish and socialist architecture might look like, but the pictures of this site -- particularly from overhead -- look fascinating.

Ještěd Tower (Czech Republic/Czechia) -- Similarly, I haven't given much thought to TV towers being represented on the WHS list, but the architecture of this site is pretty fascinating.

I'm pleased to see the Socialist Postwar Architecture in Central and Eastern Europe nomination with representative streets from Minsk, Berlin, Warsaw, and Kiev, as well, since the architecture was so distinctive in the 20th century.

What's particularly missing from the ICOMOS document, though, are Russian sites (as Els mentioned above). There was a picture of one of the Vysotki (aka Seven Sisters) in Moscow, and I'd love to see one or all of them get nominated before the similar proposal for a Romanian building inspired by the Vysotki. Similarly, two of the Armenian proposals made me think of even bigger or better examples I'd love to see from Russia. Mother Armenia is probably very meaningful to the Armenian people, but I'd rather see a Russian nomination of Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd. Another Armenian proposal was for a railway station, but I'd rather see railway stations represented through a Russian nomination of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, which could cover both historic stations and sections of track -- perhaps the Circum-Baikal Railway which finally united east and west and is an extremely scenic section of the railway.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#13 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 12:54 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Solivagant:
Examples from a fairly wide range of Former "Communist" countries ....... but nothing at all from Russia itself

This ICOMOS document, produced for a conference in Moscow in 2006, sets out what Russia might have to offer and places it in a wider context of preserving 20th C Architecture -
"The Soviet Heritage and European Modernism...... HERITAGE AT RISK Special 2006"
In the section titled "World Heritage of the 20th Century – Chances for Russia from a Foreign Point of View" I noted this statement in particular -
"This is an unspoken invitation to Russia (or even an unspoken demand) to give the best artists and artistic monuments of the Soviet Union the honour that they deserve in the eyes of international experts. Russia has a unique heritage of 20th century monuments. They should no longer be left out of the World Heritage List, and they should be included in the Russian national Tentative List for nomination as World Heritage sites."

Apart from Mamayev Kurgan, placed on Russia's T List in 2014, I see nothing else there relevant to this subject? And, as discussed above, it is the ex-Soviet Satellites who are taking the initiative on progressing "Soviet Architecture" onto the List - which instinctively seems "wrong"! I wonder why?? Is Russia still in denial about the period? One might think that Putin might be pleased to ride on the coat tails of some of the period's "Achievements" and models! Is there too much profit to be lost by preserving buildings which might otherwise be knocked down and replaced?

See http://www.icomos.org/risk/2007/pdf/Soviet_Heritage_FULL_100dpi.pdf

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#14 | Posted: 10 Sep 2016 18:47 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Shukhov Tower Moscow
I see that, in March 2014, Tadao Ando headed a group of notables in the Architecture and Engineering fields in writing a letter to President Putin asking
"Respected President Putin, we are urging you to take immediate steps to assure the preservation of this essential part of Moscow's heritage, a unique contribution of Russian engineering genius to world culture. Instead of being dismantled, there is an urgent need for its careful conservation along international standards and to nominate this masterpiece into the UNESCO World Heritage List."
See - http://theconstructivistproject.com/a-letter-to-putin

It appears that the intention was to dismantle the Tower and rebuild it in Samara! Apparently this has now been stopped (though there is, as far as I can see, no suggestion that this was due to Putin's involvement!!)

The Tower does however represent another aspect of Soviet architecture/engineering which could potentially - as suggested by Ando et al - become "World Heritage". The general view is that the plan to move it was driven by a desire to gain access to the site in Moscow for development

For more on the Tower see -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shukhov_Tower

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#15 | Posted: 12 Sep 2016 12:44 
Thanks for flagging this up, I want to come back and investigate it, but that comparative study is really interesting.

I think there is a coherent nomination in there, especially if focusing on the Stalinist Baroque/ Socialist Realist period. Rather than just anything built in Communist countries. It also leaves space to look at earlier projects such as the Constructivist buildings, which are rather different to the concrete wedding cakes used in the rebuilding after the war.

I was wondering if there is a potential easy family of buildings to be made from the Seven Sisters of Moscow, and the versions of them "gifted" to other cities.

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 "Socialist Architecture" and World Heritage

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