UNSW Built Environment: Students thoughts on Utzon Lecture Presented by Vladimir Belogolovsky

5 05 2011


Utzon Lecture “The Empire’s Last Style Soviet Modernism: 1955-1985” by Vladimir Belogolovsky.

Jakub Beseda, Built Environment Master of Architecture student, attended the recent Utzon lecture titled “The Empire’s Last Style Soviet Modernism: 1955-1985” presented by Vladimir Belogolovsky.

Below are his views and impressions on the event.

Vladimir is the founder of the International Curatorial Project that is focused on organizing, curating and designing architectural exhibitions. He was also a co-writer of a publication on Soviet Modernist Architecture.

In his brief one hour talk, we were guided though the historical and parallel architectural evolution in the former Soviet Union. Three main periods of the Soviet 20th century architecture were identified – as Avant-Garde, the Stalinist (Social Realism) and finally the Modernism.

Vladimir began his factually and visually rich presentation focused on the Stalinist social realism, what happened to and after the Avant-Garde architects and architecture. The inspiration of the early neo–gothic American Skyscrapers behind the “Seven Sisters in Moscow” were discussed amongst others. Parallels could be drawn between this style – that was favoured by Stalin and the earlier plans and ideology of Hitler for the new Germany.

As explained, with Stalin’s death in 1953, his successor Nikita Khrushchev denounced both the social realism in 1954 and Stalin in 1956. This has marked the beginning of Soviet modernism. Buildings inspired by international architects and the advancements in the west were being constructed – various examples presented in the lecture included cultural, office, residential and sport complexes – both within Russia and the former republics. Some examples I believe were and are on path with the most iconic buildings of the 20th century in the world – yet lacked the publicity and architects did not gain the deserved recognition beyond the Soviet borders.

At the conclusion of the lecture, some present trends in Russian architecture were displayed – comically showing signs of return to (neo) social realism.

It is very hard in such short time limit to get into depth of the ideas presented, but the lecture I personally believe successfully served as a platform for further investigation. Vladimir’s knowledge, passion and critical thinking on the subject and its relation to the present architectural trends worldwide was phenomenal and I hope he can return to UNSW in future to continue and conclude his fascinating talk.




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