4 Blocks in Podil: Kyiv’s Response to the Crisis of Modernist Planning


  • Shlipchenko Shlipchenko Institute for Philosophy, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
  • Oleksandr Anisimov NGO "Understanding Soviet Podil"




late socialism, Kyiv, architecture, post-modernism, UkSSR


In the Ukrainian Socialist Republic, as in many other countries of the Soviet bloc, most of construction in the late 1950’s and onwards up to the late 1980’s was primarily associated with functional zoning, mass housing, standardized prefabricated elements, microrayons, stiff typologies and public services organized according to the strict state regulations and building code. The demand for a system change was getting to a crucial point: architects felt they were losing social standing and voicing, while residents were raising their voices against the monotony of the ‘sleeping districts’.

A challenging answer came from the group of young Ukrainian architects who gained momentum and entered the competition for the redevelopment of two sites within the Podil (Kyiv’s historic district) in the late 1970s. Building on local contexts, human scale and materialities, they developed a highly unconventional project that stood out of the ubiquitous design practices. Inspired by ‘brick architecture’, they designed four residential blocks using brick as the material both cheap and flexible.

Analyzing official/popular narratives and representations (e.g. media, interviews, discussions, projects, competition entries etc.), the paper seeks to address the following questions: What were the ways/instruments of ‘producing locality’ and how it refers to postmodernism? Which ‘architectural principles of postmodernism’ could be traced in the 4Blocks design? Was it a pm manifest, a ‘conscious reaction’ to the overall crisis of modernist ideology, or the project was a product of ‘discursive formation’/cf. Foucault/, a case of surmodernité involontaire?


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How to Cite

Shlipchenko, S., & Anisimov, O. . (2022). 4 Blocks in Podil: Kyiv’s Response to the Crisis of Modernist Planning. City History, Culture, Society, (1 (13), 276–307. https://doi.org/10.15407/mics2022.01.276