Ukrainian Architecture Part 2

The Beauty of Our Buildings

This column is a part of a series of articles about Ukrainian culture and history. Our mission is to be your guide to the language, culture, and history of your Ukrainian ancestors. So follow us and learn more about your roots.

Ukrainian architecture is diverse and fascinating. It combines different styles and traditions, the day’s fashion, and local flair. Ukrainian Architecture Part 1

Today we’ll tell you about soviet and contemporary architecture in Ukraine.

Soviet-era architecture

The three major architectural styles in the USSR are constructivism, Stalinist architecture, and Soviet modernism.

Constructivist architecture developed in the Soviet Union in the 1920s.

A significant characteristic of constructivism was the use of 3D cubism.

Soviet architects used concrete frames, radio antennae, tension cables, and steel girders. Straight lines, cylinders, cubes, and rectangles – are the most significant forms of the time.

Derzhprom, Kharkiv, 1930 Photo credit

Derzhprom, Kharkiv, 2021 Photo credit

Derzhprom (an abbreviation of State Industry) is a constructivist structure in Freedom Square, Kharkiv. It’s the first Soviet 13-storey skyscraper.

Lenin Palace of Culture, Iekaterynoslav (now Dnipro), 1930 Photo credit

Lenin Palace of Culture, Dnipro, 2021 Photo credit

“The Palace of Ilyich” opened in 1932 and functioned as Dnipro’s city cultural centre until the Soviet Union fell apart. This building is an example of Soviet constructivism.

Stalinist architecture is the architecture of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, which existed between 1933 – 1955.

After WW 2 Stalinist style (Socialist Realism) was spread all over the countries of Eastern Europe.

The new buildings were stiff and plain, with only a few embellishments on their exterior.

The architecture was designed to demonstrate power; therefore, structures featured vast proportions and symmetrical layouts.

Foreign affairs ministry in Kyiv, 1939 Photo credit

The majority of structures were constructed of bricks and then stuccoed and painted.

Natural stone and marbles were frequently employed to finish the interiors of civic buildings, and propagandistic motifs were frequently used to decorate them.

Soviet Modernism

The style was prominent between 1955 and 1991. After the death of Joseph Stalin, the new head of the country was Nikita Khrushchev, who gave an order to reduce the cost of the new constructions. That’s why many buildings were very simple and had relatively poor quality.

The features of Soviet modernism:

the use of facing materials (marble, sandstone, shell rock or cheaper analogues);

mosaic panels and other modernist decoration elements;

massive glazing of the surfaces of buildings.

The style was influenced by Brutalism and the idea of Space exploration.

Kyiv Institute of Information, 1971 Photo credit

The Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union inspired the UFO-shaped design.

Hotel “Saliut”, Kyiv, 1976-1984 Photo credit

Driving School of the Civil Defence Organisation (DTSAAF), Lutsk, 1970 Photo credit

Follow a photographer, Dmytro Soloviov page about Ukrainian Modernism on Instagram.

Modern architecture in Ukraine

In terms of artistic direction, contemporary buildings are becoming more global and multicultural. The architectural styles are postmodernism and high-tech.

Postmodern buildings often combine fragmentation, asymmetric and oblique forms, colour, humour and features with elements of classicism.

Meaning characteristics include pluralism, double coding, irony and paradox, and contextualism.

Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in Lviv, 1990-2000

Comfort Town, Kyiv, 2013

Theatre on Podil, 2017 Photo credit

That was a short history of Ukrainian architecture. When you see some of these styles in Ukraine, you can impress your friends with your knowledge!

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