Soviet Cities by Arseniy Kotov reveals the gems of USSR structure

By and large, the architecture of the former Soviet Union was uniform and dreary – but a recent photo book shows there were some gems, from a building with a flying saucer to an office building that resembles a batch of jenga.

Soviet Cities: Work, Life and Leisure was created by Russian photographer Arseniy Kotov after touring post-Soviet republics between 2016 and 2020, where he stayed in over 200 cities.

All images presented in the book, published by Fuel, were taken over during this period and show, says Kotov, what remains of the civilization of the USSR.

He says: “With my photographs I wanted to show outstanding buildings and constructions to show where the Soviets lived and what the Soviet cities once looked like.

“Most of the Soviet city buildings were made to standard designs. But as I visited more cities, I noticed unique buildings and urban planning features. ‘

Here we present 15 of Mr. Kotov’s fascinating pictures, an ode to communist construction.

The auditorium of the Ukrainian Institute for Scientific and Technical Expertise and Information in Kiev, Ukraine. Mr. Kotov says it was built in 1971 and was known as the “flying saucer”. It is currently empty

A movie theater in Yerevan, Armenia that was built in 1975 and was designed to resemble the two peaks of Mount Ararat.  Kotov adds: “The complex originally contained two auditoriums with 1,600 and 1,000 seats and a small hall for 280 people.  It also included exhibition areas, a dance floor and a café.  The interior has since been destroyed and is now used as a trading pavilion.  '

A movie theater in Yerevan, Armenia that was built in 1975 and was designed to resemble the two peaks of Mount Ararat. Kotov adds: “The complex originally contained two auditoriums with 1,600 and 1,000 seats and a small hall for 280 people. It also included exhibition areas, a dance floor and a café. The interior has since been destroyed and is now used as a trading pavilion. ‘

Monument to the Conquerors of Space in Moscow.  Built in 1964,

Monument to the Conquerors of Space in Moscow. Built in 1964, “it should reflect an image of the USSR as a modern and progressive country exploring space for the good of the world,” says Kotov

Moscow style home goods.  This development was built in 1974

Moscow style home goods. This development was built in 1974

This monument was built in Magnitogorsk and reflects the fact that a third of Soviet projectiles and half of tanks were made of steel from the city during World War II, Kotov reveals

This monument was built in Magnitogorsk and reflects the fact that a third of Soviet projectiles and half of tanks were made of steel from the city during World War II, Kotov reveals

A residential building in the city of Tyrnyauz that was established in 1934 after the Tyrnyauz tungsten-molybdenum deposit was discovered.  Mr. Kotov says that with the collapse of the USSR and the shutdown of the plant, the number of residents decreased rapidly and that between 1989 and 2002 the population decreased by a third to 21,000

A residential building in the city of Tyrnyauz that was established in 1934 after the Tyrnyauz tungsten-molybdenum deposit was discovered. Mr. Kotov says that with the collapse of the USSR and the shutdown of the plant, the number of residents decreased rapidly and that between 1989 and 2002 the population decreased by a third to 21,000

Hotel-style dormitories in Vorkuta, built in 1981. The town grew out of a village built in the 1930s for workers who worked in coal

Hotel-style dormitories in Vorkuta, built in 1981. The town grew out of a village built in the 1930s for workers who worked in coal

Monument

Monument “The Motherland Calls” in the Krasnooktyabrsky District, Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad)

A stunning mosaic in Nizhny Novgorod Station, built in 1971 and designed by V Lyubimov

A stunning mosaic in Nizhny Novgorod Station, built in 1971 and designed by V Lyubimov

Someone for a game of jenga?  With office buildings?  This is the Ministry of Road Construction of the Georgian SSR in Tbilisi.  It was built in 1974 and, according to Kotov, is inspired by the shape of a forest.  He writes: 'This structure is based on three

Someone for a game of jenga? With office buildings? This is the Ministry of Road Construction of the Georgian SSR in Tbilisi. It was built in 1974 and, according to Kotov, is inspired by the shape of a forest. He writes: “This structure is based on three” tree trunks “- vertical pillars with elevators and stairwells – through which the horizontal” tree tops “of office buildings run. The aim of the concept is to raise the building above the ground so that nature can flourish in the space below. ‘

This picture shows a 20-story monolithic block of flats in Samara.  It is one of five similar buildings created by architect Alexander Belokon, reveals Mr. Kotov, others are in Minsk and Ufa

This picture shows a 20-story monolithic block of flats in Samara. It is one of five similar buildings created by architect Alexander Belokon, reveals Mr. Kotov, others are in Minsk and Ufa

A residential complex in Tbilisi, Georgia that was built in 1976 and has an eighth floor walkway that pierces two of the blocks

A residential complex in Tbilisi, Georgia that was built in 1976 and has an eighth floor walkway that pierces two of the blocks

Built in 1978, Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain in Kyrgyzstan has a concrete arch with panoramic glazing over the mouth of a UNESCO World Heritage Site cave that contains ancient rock inscriptions

Built in 1978, Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain in Kyrgyzstan has a concrete arch with panoramic glazing over the mouth of a UNESCO World Heritage Site cave that contains ancient rock inscriptions

The hangar for final assembly and refueling of the “Buran” space program in the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.  In 1990 the second spaceship of the 'Buran' program, 'Burya' (storm), and its full-size model were buried here.  Work on the program was stopped due to the collapse of the USSR, and the project was officially closed in 1993 by President Boris Yeltsin, writes Kotov

The hangar for final assembly and refueling of the “Buran” space program in the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. In 1990 the second spaceship of the ‘Buran’ program, ‘Burya’ (storm), and its full-size model were buried here. Work on the program was stopped due to the collapse of the USSR, and the project was officially closed in 1993 by President Boris Yeltsin, writes Kotov

The Olympus swimming pool in Tolyatti and its striking mosaic.  It was built in 1985

The Olympus swimming pool in Tolyatti and its striking mosaic. It was built in 1985

Soviet Cities: Work, Life & Leisure by Russian photographer Arseniy Kotov appears on Fuel

Soviet Cities: Work, Life & Leisure by Russian photographer Arseniy Kotov appears on Fuel

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