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.
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
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?
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.
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.
True ive seen that movie with English subs…the first time I visited Armenia, one night I got up the wrong entrance and knocked on the wrong door thinking its the place I rented when it was the entrance next to us…
Are you making a Milan Kundera reference in your title? ” The Unbearable Lightness of Being?”
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.
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.
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Concrete is gray! You can’t break it and it won’t rot! Sometimes we paint it. America needs to come off their attitude to “all things Soviet” or “…Russian”. It is not so bad over here. Spend a few years IN Russia or Armenia and learn to live life.
Concrete can absolutely break and collapse, just like Communism has every time. =)
Very interesting. Thank you for sharing.
Buildings do look alike, grey (former pink stone) but I love motherland just the way it is. It was hard to find that old ´Soviet buildings in Moscow, and it is part its history whether we like it or not. Time will probably make those buildings disappear in Armenia as well.
that movie mentioned in comments seems to be great !!! thank you people
[…] reality of state control are everywhere, and it’s a cold, sterile, monochrome world that only a Soviet architect could love. As they say in the film, “Blessings of the State. Blessings of the […]