By Owen Hatherley
The huge, proverbially windswept plazas outfitted less than “really present socialism” from the Twenties to the Eighties are extensively thought of to be lifeless areas, designed to intimidate or no less than provoke. but in the event that they are just of use to these in energy, why is it they've been used so effectively in protest? From Petrograd in 1917 to Independence sq. in Kiev throughout the Orange Revolution, those areas became focuses for mass protest. starting in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, and taking in Warsaw, Ljubljana, Kharkov and Moscow, Owen Hatherley heads looking for insurrection, architectural glory and horror. alongside the way in which he encounters the extra civic squares that changed their authoritarian predecessors and unearths that, ironically, the outdated centres of strength are extra conducive to dissent than those new, ostensibly democratic plazas.
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Additional info for Across The Plaza: The Public Voids Of The Post-Soviet City
It is, perhaps, absurd to feel optimistic about a place because it’s got bloody working coalmines in it, as if that was something special. Perhaps it is only something that a Western European, familiar with the consequences of deindustrialisation in his country, could possibly feel good about, given that he is never likely to work down one. Nonetheless, a comparison with those nearby cities that have decimated or destroyed their industry tells its own story. Katowice is a living city, which in itself is very unusual in the field of really existing urbanism.
It is obviously intended for state manifestations of some kind, but it is hard to imagine an improvement on this empty state. When you look past the Risings Monument towards the buildings in front, the full power of this space seizes you. This is really a Silesian Brasilia, an architecture of such spacious, concentrated purity that it is some sort of great unheralded modernist ensemble. It’s possible that Niemeyer’s elemental Three Powers Square was an inspiration here, although it was evidently heavily processed by the architects into something wholly Central European and industrial rather than sun-kissed and Latinate.
B. M. F. Sudakov, and unveiled in 1980, when Gagarin himself was long dead; a flailing regime reminding the populace of its former triumphs. The fluted column with the man on top is fairly literal stuff, miming Gagarin’s combustive projection into the cosmos. What makes it exciting is that the whole thing is cast of the same metal, one rising sheer out of the other, the jagged titanium obelisk already a stunning futurist sculpture, with the man himself modelled in such a manner that awe is constantly intermingled with laughter.
Across The Plaza: The Public Voids Of The Post-Soviet City by Owen Hatherley