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CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed [Hardcover]

Frederic Chaubin
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Feb 2011
Photographer Frederic Chaubin reveals 90 buildings sited in fourteen former Soviet Republics which express what could be considered as the fourth age of Soviet architecture. They reveal an unexpected rebirth of imagination, an unknown burgeoning that took place from 1970 until 1990. Contrary to the twenties and thirties, no "school" or main trend emerges here. These buildings represent a chaotic impulse brought about by a decaying system. Their diversity announces the end of Soviet Union.

Taking advantage of the collapsing monolithic structure, the holes of the widening net, architects revisited all the chronological periods and styles, going back to the roots or freely innovating. Some of the daring ones completed projects that the Constructivists would have dreamt of (Druzhba sanatorium), others expressed their imagination in an expressionist way (Tbilisi wedding palace). A summer camp, inspired by sketches of a prototype lunar base, lays claim to its suprematist influence (Promethee). Then comes the speaking architecture widespread in the last years of the USSR: a crematorium adorned with concrete flames (Kiev crematorium), a technological institute with a flying saucer crashed on the roof (Kiev institute), a political center watching you like a Big Brother (Kaliningrad House of Soviet). This puzzle of styles testifies to all the ideological dreams of the period, from the obsession with the cosmos to the rebirth of privacy and it also outlines the geography of the USSR, showing how local influences made their exotic twists before bringing the country to its end.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Benedikt Taschen Verlag; Mul edition (5 Feb 2011)
  • Language: French, English, German
  • ISBN-10: 3836525194
  • ISBN-13: 978-3836525190
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 12.7 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


" eye-opening experience for those who assumed that Soviet architecture died with the rise of Stalin." -The New York Times." --The New York Times

About the Author

Frederic Chaubin was born in Phnom Penh in 1959. For the last fifteen years, he has been editor-in-chief of the French lifestyle magazine Citizen K. Since 2000 he has regularly featured his photographic works combining architecture and travel. The CCCP collection research was carried out from 2003 to 2010 in an intuitive process.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for enthusiasts? 13 Mar 2011
A fine effort, painstakingly compiled from the author's photos. He has travelled all over the ex-Soviet Union to capture these crumbling gems of another era. The book is fabulously large, fabulously glossy and fabulously interesting. In the usual Taschen style, it is lavish in its pictures but minimalist in its text, save for an introductory chapter.

It's easy for Brits to be reviled by the reinforced concrete school of architecture - the brutalist style doesn't fit with the typical cramped British town centre. But in the Soviet Union, which was far from crowded, buildings and their surroundings were often planned together and so the monumental truly looks monumental. And with a surprising amount of creativity thrown in.

To add to the atmosphere, many of the buildings in the book are in the usual dismal state of repair which goes hand in hand with the ex-Soviet Union; many seem to be vacant, at least from the indoor shots; and some had already been demolished by the time of publication.

You don't have to be an architecture enthusiast to enjoy this book, nor necessarily a Cold War fan. It depicts the products of a past era; a different system of planning; an economy which lavished money on building showpieces, but never put anything aside to maintain them. In short, I think its appeal is that you will never see the like on a British High Street.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Cosmic. Amazing photographs. Worth it! 1 April 2011
Fantastic images. Was highly anticipated when I found this through blogs. Shocked when it arrived and I found that it was such a huge book in terms of size. Cant be a bad thing when the every detail can be seen.

The images are stunning and worth it especially when some of the images have been torn down. There are enough interior views of the buildings and spaces and they give a good experience of the atmosphere. These buildings have long been abandoned but the photography still manages to capture the glory of the soviet era in full. As an architecture student, it will be amazig to have found the plans and sections of the buildings. However, some of these are remote enough as they are so its understandable they did not try do a half hearted job with the more technical drawings.

The book is split into functions and not chronological or geographical. Personally, I prefer this especially when the introduction has brought you throught the architecture chronologically. The graphics that accompanies the photo also tie the whole C.C.C.P theme really well. Downside if that a heavy book like this one, the spine does not open as much as you would like it to and the double spread images get distorted.

Very well thought out book and well worth it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By The O
Unbelievable buildings, balancing on the edge of kitsch and brilliance, from the undiscovered former USSR countries. Probably the book of the year!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We were not so different 16 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm not an architect, but I like history of art and this book caught my attention.

The book, as other reviewers point out, is a great showcase of the later soviet architecture. A whole range of buildings, from camps for the reeducation of young offenders (built by themselves) to scientific institutes or to "wedding palaces".

The constructions are not so different from the "futuristic" or "op art" constructions of the western countries in Europe or South America: vast concrete expanses, curving or polyedrical façades and roofs, concrete sculptures and abstract decorative motives... Adaptating or merging with the surrounding landscape was not an issue. It was an era of experimentation for "new forms". Some of them are naïve and useless, some of them are truly good solutions and even extraordinary technical solutions. Quite familiar with the booming architecture of the Spanish dictatorship in those years.

One usually imagines the architecture of the soviet era as a uniform mass, oppresive, grey, poor quality, but this book discovers that USSR architects had their own progressive views, they tried to build original structures. Probably this was an attempt to "lightening" the political opression, or the feeble trials at making communism more palatable to the population, showing that the soviet system could match the experimentation and mores to be found elsewere in the world.

The photos are numerous and large, but have an eerie quality of decay, neglect, abandon that clutches your heart. It is a pity that so many buildings have been despised and abandoned.

The book is well docummented and has a lot of written information.The only (minor) drawback is that the photos have a "coarse grain" look, much like those to be found in a 70's book, that sometimes make difficult to appreciate details.

A good buy for the curious and the professional.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One big book.... 27 Mar 2012
By Tim Kidner TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Spotted this slab of hardback in my local Waterstones, quite by accident, whilst looking for bargains. Sealed in shrink-wrap and with no price visible, I was really intrigued but as it was just after Christmas, I had a budget to stick to. Twenty pounds, I told myself. After queuing for ten minutes and my arms elongated under the weight, on scanning, it came up at £35. I might as well have offended both the assistant and queue personally by muttering that it was too much and promptly put it back.

Appetite wetted, Amazon, then, came to the rescue, nearly matching my price but delivered for free, too.

As others have said, there's little text but enough. The photographs themselves are mostly impressive and convey the grey concrete monuments to USSR Communism well. As a photographer myself, I felt that a few were uninspired in their taking but generally it's a solid body of work and not knowing the conditions and pressures (permission, secrecy etc) the photographer faced, it's petty to criticise. Considering also their geographical spread, it's fascinating, as one would expect for all the buildings to be in Moscow or other big cities, but a good many weren't.

The book has now been lent to several families who have had sons, daughters, people of all ages, from far and wide, coming home and who've found the whole topic fascinating. The size of the pages themselves almost demand respect, as if an old manuscript is being lovingly studied.

I won't be thinking of buying another book on Russian brutalist architecture again. "CCCP" covers the subject amply and superbly and its interest may be more universal than you might initially think and others will want a peek. Recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh brave new world
Ugly Russian Buildings

I must confess that I bought this expecting it to be good, a Russian twist on our current penchant for really ugly Brutalist buildings like... Read more
Published 3 months ago by tallmanbaby
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Bought his book as a Christmas present for my son-in-law who's mad about unusual buildings.
It's a brilliant - very large and quite heavy hardback - filled with the most... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ineke Sharman
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
I really couldn't explain what drew me to this book, but I'm glad I was drawn to it as I thought it was fascinating.
Published 9 months ago by Alan H
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent photo book
This book is a proper coffee table book - amazing and well taken photos in a very nicely bound book - will take a while to get through it
Published 10 months ago by B. Trott
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book
This is a great book with lots of interesting info about the gorgeous modernist buildings that are featured in the photography.

Lovely big hard bound book :)
Published 14 months ago by SmokeMeAKipper
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
this book is essential for anyone interested in progressive buildings and the post-war USSR, the photographs are of good quality and virtually all are devoid of people, adding to... Read more
Published 15 months ago by avondal
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant book worth collecting
I have seen this book since it was published and never came across of buying it, after I bought it and flicked through the pages I believe it was money worth spent, the images... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Bill
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
All lovers of architecture will love this book. The photographies are awesome, as are the incredible bulidings portrayed in them. Read more
Published 18 months ago by jose
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not only the title, every detail on this book is cosmic
It's a TASCHEN book, do I need to go further? The central element of this book (cosmic communist constructions) is unexpected, but also a more than achieved goal. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Telmo Mendes Leal
5.0 out of 5 stars Good job
It's big and heavy book with lots of amazing pictures of Soviet non-standard architecture of buildings. Most of them are in Asia, which gives them the Asian flavor. Read more
Published on 15 May 2012 by jtsuken
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