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There are many different branches of modernist architecture, from Art Deco and constructivism to expressionism and metabolism. However, not all 20th-century buildings get the care and attention that they might deserve. Enter, stage left, what’s known as socialist modernism—brutalist buildings that were erected in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, right up to the fall of the Soviet Union.

Imposing grey monoliths. Functional yet also possessing gorgeous but deeply bizarre designs. These are just some of the ways that you can describe these buildings. We’ve collected some of the most impressive examples of socialist modernism designs from the r/SocialistModernism and r/SocialistModernism1 online communities to share them with you. Scroll down, upvote the pics that impressed you the most, and let us know if you’ve seen any of these architectural marvels in person.

#1

Prefabricated Elephant Slide In Dresden, East Germany, Cca 1965 #sicmod

Prefabricated Elephant Slide In Dresden, East Germany, Cca 1965 #sicmod

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#2

Spodek ("Saucer") Multipurpose Arena Complex In Katowice, Poland. Built In 1971

Spodek ("Saucer") Multipurpose Arena Complex In Katowice, Poland. Built In 1971

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#3

Military Medical Academy Complex - Belgrade, Serbia

Military Medical Academy Complex - Belgrade, Serbia

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Modernist architecture, as a whole, tends to focus on minimalist, functional designs that reject over-the-top decorations. These buildings are also defined by the materials used, namely lots of glass, steel, and reinforced concrete.

But with so many different ‘flavors’ of modernism, no two architectural subgenres are exactly alike, even if there’s significant overlap between them. Socialist modernism, for instance, is very brutalist and functional, and you won’t mistake it for, say, the De Stijl or the post-war Japanese ‘metabolism’ styles.

#4

State Museum Of History, Uzbekistan (1968-70) By Yevgeniy Rozanov And Vsevolod Shestopalov

State Museum Of History, Uzbekistan (1968-70) By Yevgeniy Rozanov And Vsevolod Shestopalov

joaoslr Report

#6

Sanatorium/Rehabilitation Center, 1985, Dombay, Karachay-Cherkess Republic

Sanatorium/Rehabilitation Center, 1985, Dombay, Karachay-Cherkess Republic

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Betsy Ray
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Hive mind. Nice to have balconies. Is or was the air horribly polluted to leave so much residue on so many of these buildings?

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Socialist modernism is the style of architecture erected in Central and Eastern Europe between 1955 and 1991. However, these ancient Eastern Bloc designs aren’t all given the care that they deserve. As time marches on, many of these giant slabs of history are falling into disrepair.

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However, there are some that aim to preserve these shards of peculiar design. The Guardian notes that the Bureau for Art and Urban Research (BACU, aka the Birou pentru Artă şi Cercetare Urbană) began to document and preserve these buildings and their heritage in 2014.

#7

The Iron Fountain - Gyumri, Armenia

The Iron Fountain - Gyumri, Armenia

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Betsy Ray
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Stunning. Sadly, the structures around it were destroyed in an earthquake.

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#8

Pov: Soviet Chad Calling Your Girl Over Satellite Phone

Pov: Soviet Chad Calling Your Girl Over Satellite Phone

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#9

The Palace Of Ceremonies, Tblisi, Georgia

The Palace Of Ceremonies, Tblisi, Georgia

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“We aim to revitalize this heritage not only for symbolic reasons but because we believe in these elements that managed to defy some of the ideological requirements, giving the urban space a certain flavor so characteristic of those times,” Dumitru Rusu from BACU told The Guardian.

“Boulevards, public buildings, living units, and monuments, they all are a clear reflection of the social and cultural context of the socialist period.”

#10

Hala Arena In Poznań, Poland. An Indoor Sporting Arena Built In 1974

Hala Arena In Poznań, Poland. An Indoor Sporting Arena Built In 1974

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#12

Hotel "Vrbak", Novi Pazar, Serbia. Built In 1976 With A Bit Of An Oriental Touch To Suit The Ethnicity That Lives In This Area

Hotel "Vrbak", Novi Pazar, Serbia. Built In 1976 With A Bit Of An Oriental Touch To Suit The Ethnicity That Lives In This Area

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Fembot
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Make take a pic where we can actually see the thing? Which building is it?

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The initiative kick-started by BACU also maps socialist modernist buildings that can be found in Europe, using an online tool on their website. This way, they’re promoting awareness of countries’ architectural heritage that many people might have walked past a hundred times without realizing what they were looking at in the skyline. 

#13

When The East Meets The West

When The East Meets The West

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Yan
Community Member
1 year ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

In reality it looks not so monumental and impressive, it's heavily procecced photo

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#14

Bodiul's Viewpoint Platform, Near Chisinau, Moldova, Built In The 60s (C) Bacu/ Photo Bu Dumitru Rusu

Bodiul's Viewpoint Platform, Near Chisinau, Moldova, Built In The 60s (C) Bacu/ Photo Bu Dumitru Rusu

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The r/SocialistModernism1 subreddit appears to be a branch of the BACU project to raise awareness of this style of architecture on various internet and social media platforms. Their goal is to protect, monitor, research, and preserve various socialist modernist buildings, monuments, parks, squares, as well as “entire districts and green areas.”

#17

Rudo Skyscrapers, Just Took The Photo Now

Rudo Skyscrapers, Just Took The Photo Now

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PeePeePooPoo
Community Member
1 year ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Ah Konjarnik, in Belgrade. My grandma lived here. Views from the roof are AMAZING.

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#18

Museum Of Contemporary Art, Belgrade [oc]

Museum Of Contemporary Art, Belgrade [oc]

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The first phase of BACU’s project is all about analysis and research while the second one focuses on regulations and educating the authorities and locals about the socialist modernist cultural heritage. The project also aims to unite everyone who is interested in architecture and preservation, from architects and urban planners to artists, activists, historians, and anyone else.

#19

Mountain Kosmaj, Serbia. Built In 1971 Architect Gradimir Medaković And Sculptor Vojin Stojić (C) Bacu / Photo By Dumitru Rusu

Mountain Kosmaj, Serbia. Built In 1971 Architect Gradimir Medaković And Sculptor Vojin Stojić (C) Bacu / Photo By Dumitru Rusu

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#20

Lake Sevan Viewing Platform [oc]

Lake Sevan Viewing Platform [oc]

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#21

Trade Fair Center, Accra, Ghana, Designed By Vic Adegbite, Jacek Chyrosz, And Stanislaw Rymasze­wski In 1967. One Of Many Collaborations Between African And Eastern European Planners From This Era

Trade Fair Center, Accra, Ghana, Designed By Vic Adegbite, Jacek Chyrosz, And Stanislaw Rymasze­wski In 1967. One Of Many Collaborations Between African And Eastern European Planners From This Era

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As time moves on, the philosophy of how we build and shape our cities shifts as well. It’s important to find compromises between the artistic visions of capable designers and what the people who will be living in the area truly need. Every new project is an opportunity to do better and better. Of course, what the 'better' means will depend on what society as a whole values at the moment.

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#23

Tuzla Bank, (Now Nlb) Tuzla, Bih, Built In 1977, Architect V.stojanović © B.a.c.u. / Photo By Dumitru Rusu

Tuzla Bank, (Now Nlb) Tuzla, Bih, Built In 1977, Architect V.stojanović © B.a.c.u. / Photo By Dumitru Rusu

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Architectural innovation doesn’t have to be radical, as Dr. June Komisar from Ryerson University told Bored Panda during an interview, previously. “[It] can be an incremental change that will benefit the users and society at large. At the moment we have a huge opportunity to build sustainable buildings that approach or attain a 'net zero' energy cost. By using local and/or sustainable materials, designing for passive and/or active solar and wind power, designing for very low energy usage, and renovating and adapting existing buildings we can help to mitigate climate change,” the expert in architectural design and the history and theory of architecture said.

#25

[oc] Fontana Complex, New Belgrade, Serbia. Built In 1968, Architect Uroš Martinović

[oc] Fontana Complex, New Belgrade, Serbia. Built In 1968, Architect Uroš Martinović

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Spencer's slave
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I really think some of these need more information. Are they residential, industrial, abandoned, radioactive (🙄) etc.

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According to the expert, it’s important to balance the aesthetics of the building and its relationship to the site with its structural integrity and sustainability. “Understanding the site conditions and evaluating other buildings using the same construction techniques and materials can help avoid problems,” she pointed out how architects can aim to avoid at least some issues during the actual building process.

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#28

Time Stopped

Time Stopped

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STress
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1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

A lot of hallways in office buildings of ex-Yugoslavia. The prominent place in each and every of them is occupied by "Iskra" clock, which would cease working not more than one week after installed, and remained immobile till the end of time. Just like bureaucracy behind the doors...

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#29

Brutal Buildings In Novi-Sad, Serbia

Brutal Buildings In Novi-Sad, Serbia

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#30

Communal Buildings In Berlin's Eastern Half From The Ddr

Communal Buildings In Berlin's Eastern Half From The Ddr

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Betsy Ray
Community Member
1 year ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Looks like the Westside of Manhattan in NY, Lincoln Towers, or Wilshire Blvd.in Los Angeles, California. Well maintained.

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Note: this post originally had 94 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

What do you think about socialist modernism, dear Pandas? Does this architectural style appeal to you and do you think it's heritage that is worth saving? Which of these photos left the biggest impression on you? Have you ever seen any of these buildings in person? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!