Despite the fact that they’re expensive, heavy and utterly impractical, I have a thing for art books (or coffee table books, as they’re often called) and have a fairly good — and rapidly growing collection of them. I’m not looking forward to moving with them, but I’ll deal with that when I have to (and not a moment sooner, clearly). In any case, the latest edition to my collection of picture-books-for-grown-ups is Taschen’s CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed, by photographer Frédéric Chaubin.
Over seven years (from 2003-2010), Chaubin traveled the former Soviet Union capturing over 90 architecturally wonderful landmarks. As the Soviet Union began to crumble, its architects discovered an unprecedented freedom to create structures unbound by the harsh restrictions of Soviet society in its heyday. The result is buildings that look like they come from the future, with hints of brutalism, but more in common with sci-fi novel covers than apartment blocks and office towers. As the structures themselves decay, many of them already badly in disrepair, Chaubin’s work on this book becomes so much more than a celebration of innovative architecture: it’s a visual record of a rapidly vanishing design movement.
You can check out a gallery of stills from the book on Taschen’s Web site here.