Socialist Modernist Architecture

Last week, I mentioned that I attended a lecture by David Crowley on the fate of modernist architecture in former European communist countries.  You may have wondered what socialist modernist architecture is.  Well, I am not an architectural historian so I can’t fully answer that question, but here’s my understanding of it.  Modernist architecture in the 20th century was characterized by functionality and lines rather than ornamentation.  It took advantage of technological and engineering advances to create monumental buildings.  According to David Crowley (and I would agree), there was also an ideological aspect to modernist architecture in communist Europe.  The buildings represented progress and the advances of socialism.  In many of these countries, there is now ambivalence about these modernist buildings.  Are they architecturally significant and worthy of re-use and preservation?  Or do they represent a repressive ideology and should be torn down?  Hence the question of their fate.

On example of socialist modernist architecture is the Sports Palace here in Vilnius.  Built in 1971, it is a great example of the sweeping lines often used in this style of architecture.  The building is no longer in use and I don’t know what development plans are in store for it.  I believe that it was placed on the historic registry, in part because the independence movement Sąjudis held its first meeting in this building in 1988 and the public funeral for those killed by Soviet troops on January 13, 1991 was held here.  It is also controversial because it was built on the site of a Jewish cemetery.

The Sports Palace in Vilnius


About amanda

Creating academic and public environments for the humanities to flourish Researching Soviet and Eastern European history Engaging people and ideas as a writer and interviewer Traveling as much as possible View all posts by amanda

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