Synopses & Reviews
When communism took power in Eastern Europe it remade cities in its own image, transforming everyday life and creating sweeping boulevards and vast, epic housing estates in an emphatic declaration of a noncapitalist idea. The regimes that built them are now dead and long gone, but from Warsaw to Berlin, Moscow to postrevolutionary Kiev, the buildings remain inhabited, populated by people whose lives were scattered by the collapse of communism.
Landscapes of Communism is a journey of historical discovery, plunging us into the lost world of socialist architecture. Recalling the work of W.G. Sebald and Rebecca Solnit, Owen Hatherley, a brilliant, witty, young urban critic shows how power was wielded in these societies by tracing the sharp, sudden zigzags of official communist architectural style: the superstitious despotic rococo of high Stalinism, with its jingoistic memorials, palaces, and secret policemenand#8217;s castles; East Germanyand#8217;s obsession with prefabricated concrete panels; and the metro systems of Moscow and Prague, a spectacular vindication of public space that went further than any avant-garde ever dared. Throughout his journeys across the former Soviet empire, Hatherley asks what, if anything, can be reclaimed from the ruins of Communismandmdash;what residue can inform our contemporary ideas of urban life?
About the Author
Owen Hatherley is the author of the acclaimed Militant Modernism, a defense of the modernist movement, and A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain. He writes regularly on the political aesthetics of architecture, urbanism and popular culture for a variety of publications, including Building Design, Frieze, The Guardian, and New Statesman. He lives in London.