“If you’ve got a goal, you can actually achieve it here … All the same, I think my motherland is there. However good it might be here, I still know that.”
Christopher Beanland, journalist and author based in London talks to RETROGRAD about his love for brutalism, Birmingham and his new book, Concrete Concept: Brutalist buildings around the world.
Sergei Eisenstein is perhaps the most famous Soviet film-maker, and is amongst the figures who would most define Twentieth-Century cinematic theory and practice. In the mid 20’s, he directed the cinematic masterpieces STRIKE, BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN and OCTOBER. While Soviet policies towards art and international exchange became more conservative in the late 1920’s, Eisenstein travelled abroad, spending time in Europe, the United States and Mexico.
In 1982, when she was 21, my mum joined an exchange programme to travel through the Soviet Union. The group of 30 young Germans produced a travel diary that she recently dug out for me from the attic. In the introduction it reads: “If somebody reads this in a few years, they should consider the following words by Theodor Fontane: ‘He who wants to travel has to bring with him love for the country and the people, at the least he shouldn’t bring prejudice. He needs to have the good intention to find the good instead of killing it through critical comparisons.'”
Lorena Lombardozzi lived in both capitals for two and half years, as a private tenant of council flats. Being a participant and observer of such realities gives her the rare opportunity to compare them and contribute to the narrative of “what happened behind these doors?”
The city of Forli in north-east Italy is best known as the hometown of Benito Mussolini, leader of the National Fascist Party and ruler of Italy from 1922 until the end of WWII. During his two decades as Fascist ruler of Italy Mussolini transformed Forli, which came to be known as “Citta del Duce” or City of the Leader, into a representation of the fascist regime and its political aspirations. Another more recent resident of Forli, Barbara Bravi, returns to her city to trace how the function of its fascist architecture has changed from a means of celebrating the old regime to understanding the city’s totalitarian past.
This week, Alex Casper Cline explores how a Czech shoe company transformed a small town in Essex from a sleepy hamlet into a showpiece of functionalist architecture.
Barbara Czyzewska explores the controversial early history of the London Hilton Hotel and looks at why its owner’s greatest dream was to build a Hilton Hotel in Red Square, Moscow at the height of the Cold War.
The story of Broadwater Farm in South Tottenham is that of many of London’s other post-war prefab social housing developments: it started with radical but poorly conceived architecture and culminated in severe social problems. That’s why so many have since been torn down. The Farm survives, for now. A photo essay by Edward Douglas.
Katie McElvanney traces the rise and fall of Ernö Goldfinger’s socialist utopian designs and looks at how the function of these landmark buildings has changed from mass housing to housing for the privileged few.
Architecture became a matter of pressing importance in Skopje after the city’s liberation in 1944. The immediate post-war period would witness a huge boom in residential and industrial construction; governmental bureaus were formed to oversee the city’s development and the first generation of ‘Macedonian’ architects emerged.
Starting our series “East in the West/West in the East”, this article tells the story of an alleged panel block in a small market town in the Austrian countryside which seems to symbolise everything that Austria is not: grey, square, flat, enormous. Is this the East in the West?