The Unbearable Grayness of Buildings: Soviet Architecture in Armenia [Photo]

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Editor’s note: Armenia reestablished its independence nearly 25 years ago, but the legacy of the USSR in the country lives on through leftover Soviet architecture. These buildings across the republic are as fascinating as they are monotonous; they are eerie and devoid of aesthetic. Their utilitarian purpose is incorporated into the design: colorless blocks, uniform heights. It is only with the appearance of the trappings of a modern society – like satellite dishes – that we can be sure we have not traveled back in time. Or, in some way, maybe we have. Tatevik Vardanyan leads us there with her lens. 

Soviet Architecture - Tatevik Vardanyan - The Armenite

Tall, rectangular-style building in Ajapnyak

 

Soviet Architecture - Tatevik Vardanyan - The Armenite

Cubes next to cubes

 

Soviet Architecture - Tatevik Vardanyan - The Armenite

Looking up to repetition

 

Soviet Architecture - Tatevik Vardanyan - The Armenite

New ways of looking at old buildings

 

Soviet Architecture Armenia The Armenite

Linear laundry

 

Soviet Architecture - Tatevik Vardanyan - The Armenite

A touch of color in the windows

 

Soviet Architecture - Tatevik Vardanyan - The Armenite

Who’s home?

 

Soviet Architecture - Tatevik Vardanyan - The Armenite

The sky is filled with Soviets

 

Soviet Architecture - Tatevik Vardanyan - The Armenite

Geometric balconies

 

Soviet Architecture Armenia The Armenite

Looking up to the twins

 

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Unusual shapes on Halabyan street

 

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All I see are jagged edges

 

Soviet Architecture Armenia The Armenite

Moving closer to monotony

 

Soviet Architecture Armenia The Armenite

And then there were three

 

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Oval balconies of Davtashen

 

Soviet Architecture - Tatevik Vardanyan - The Armenite

A cold, brown building

 

Soviet Architecture Armenia The Armenite

Counting cubes on Baghramyan street

 

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Yerevan

 

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13 Comments

  1. I feel thoroughly depressed and intrigued by these pictures. In another way (like Republic square) there could be something good and almost “relic” like to be said about the Soviet era and its influence on Armenian architecture. But, these are just another example of how we need to dig into our roots, or create anew to have our own “Armenian” flavor of design

  2. How old are these buildings? Wasn’t it under Khrushchev in the 1950s that most people in the Soviet Union got to live in their own private apartments? Also, has the city taken safety precautions given what happened to such buildings in Gyumri and Spitak?

  3. By “devoid of aesthetic” I guess you mean “devoid of a Northern Boulevard aesthetic”, which would be, if nothing else, more… grammatic? I love the Armenite but couldn’t help defending the honor of Yerevan’s grey (formerly pink) ladies! And great job by Tatevik.

    • Aesthetic is just the idea of something having beauty. So something can be devoid of aesthetic and it doesn’t necessarily need to be qualified.

      • Grammar and aesthetics! Both are subjective I guess 🙂 But I think I speak for many when I say that the Soviet modern aesthetic of the architecture The Armenite so lovingly featured has a lot going for it. May they keep up the good work.

  4. There is a satirical movie about Soviet architecture, where a four guys get really drunk before one of them is supposed to get married. They forget which one was supposed to fly to St. Petersburg from Moscow (might be the other way around) and send the wrong guy. Basically in every city everything is so similar, that even the key to his aparmtent in his home city works for the apartment in the building that has the same address in another city. And the building looks exactly the same in both cities.

    • Vardan, that satire is “The Irony of Fate,” which is still shown on Russian television around the New Year and Orthodox Christmastime.

  5. Your last picture entitled “Yerevan” is very misleading and really harmful to MY city’s positive PR.
    I wish Armenians had enough brains to present the bright and the beautiful along with the old and gray. What have YOU done to add color to your city?

    • I don’t think there is anything particularly harmful about this photo. I think its beautiful actually, as are the rest. The photographer made no comment inferring that it was anything but.

  6. These are so beautiful it hurts. I’ve rarely been so nostalgic for Yerevan as I am looking at these images. Grand vistas of the city are lovely and may promote tourism, but these images capture the familiar sights of everyday life. Thank you Ms. Vardanyan, please keep producing art like this.

  7. Pingback: Soviet Architecture | Tatevik Vardanyan

  8. Pingback: The Unbearable Grayness of Buildings: Soviet Architecture in Armenia [Photo] | Reddit Spy

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