Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

220 × 171 × 24 mm
352 pages
220 illustrations
01 Oct 2015
Modern Architectures in History

Russia Modern Architectures in History Richard Anderson

From one of the largest empires in world history to the dominant republic of the Soviet Union and ultimately to the Russian Federation as we know it today, this book offers a comprehensive account of Russia’s architectural production from the late nineteenth century to the present, explaining how architecture was both shaped by, and a material manifestation of, Russia’s rapid cultural, economic and social revolutions.

This book attends to the country’s complex relationship to global architectural culture, exploring Russia’s role as an epicentre of architectural creativity in the 1920s with the advent of Rationalism and Constructivism, and as a key protagonist in the Cold War. Challenging received interpretations of modern architecture in Russia, Richard Anderson shows how Russian architectural institutions departed from the course of modernism being developed in capitalist nations, and how it made a lasting yet little-known impact on territories extending from the Middle East to Central Asia and China.

Soviet Russia is at the core of this book. Anderson brings the relationship between architecture and socialism into focus through detailed case studies that situate buildings and concepts in the specific milieu of Soviet society, politics and ideology. Drawing on extensive research, Anderson provides a reappraisal of the architecture of the Stalin era and the final decades of the USSR. He accounts for the many ways in which Soviet conventions continue to shape Russian architecture today, but also acknowledges and explores the heterogeneous mix of attitudes and style among Russia’s architects. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the origins of the country’s contemporary architectural culture.

‘This volume in Reaktions consistently excellent series of studies on Modernisms in specific countries is a long-overdue opening out from the usual confusion at how the country that built St Petersburg and pioneered Constructivism came to be such a world centre of kitsch’ — Owen Hatherley, Architectural Review

‘[Russia] is a much needed English-language book on the subject, and a valuable source for further research. The tone is careful and measured: Anderson packs 150 years of architectural history into some 300 pages, alongside excellent illustrations. In Russia everything is only ever one step away from politics, and this makes the book particularly exciting: it is an alternative history of Russia and the Soviet Union . . . This is a highly successful, highly readable history told with passion. It opens up new avenues of research and frees us from some previously-held and limiting ideas. It is a level-headed, intelligent assessment that broadens the range and depth of understanding of Russias architecture.’ — C20 Magazine

‘This is an elegant recasting of the modern architectural tradition in Russia. Spanning 150 years, from the reforms introduced by Alexander II in 1861 and the subsequent industrial urbanization of the Romanov Imperium, to the abstract constructivism of the avant garde that accompanied the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Richard Andersons text moves from the less familiar but more pragmatic Soviet reality of the late 20s, and the later historicizing Socialist Realism that constituted the reactionary architectural production of the Stalinist totalitarian state, to the Russian Federation of today. Anderson has written a precisely articulated, socio-economic cultural history of Russian architecture.’ — Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University.

Show all

Richard Anderson is Lecturer in Architectural History at the University of Edinburgh. He is the editor and principal translator of Ludwig Hilberseimer’s Metropolisarchitecture and Selected Essays (2012) and co-author of Architecture in Print: Design and Debate in the Soviet Union, 1919–1935 (2005).


One: National Forms, Rational Techniques, 1861-95

Two: Style, Innovation and Tradition, 1896-1916

Three: Laboratories of Soviet Architecture, 1917-23

Four: Socialist Construction, 1924-31

Five: Architecture and Stalin’s Revolution, 1932-41

Six: World War, Cold War, 1941-53

Seven: Architecture without Excess, 1954-68

Eight: Architecture in Developed Socialism, 1969-82

Nine: From Perestroika to ‘Capitalist Realism’, 1983 to the Present


Select Bibliography


Photo Acknowledgements