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?


Agnew, John; Mercer, John, & Sopher, David. (2013). The city in cultural context: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203716144

Alekseyeva, Anna. (2019). Everyday Soviet Utopias: Planning, Design and the Aesthetics of Developed Socialism: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351019781

Anderson, Richard. (2018). The retro problem: Modernism and postmodernism in the USSR. In Vladimir Kulić (Ed.), Second World Postmodernisms. Architecture and Society under Late Socialism. London: Bloomsbury. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350014459.0006

Antonyuk, Dmytro. (30th of December, 2020). Presonal interview (restricted use). Kyiv

Bocharnikova, Daria, & Kurg, Andres. (2019). Introduction: urban planning and architecture of late socialism. The Journal of Architecture, vol.24, no. 5: 593-603. doi:10.1080/13602365.2019.1671658 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13602365.2019.1671658

Demchenko, Igor. (2018). Critical Post-Functionalism in the Architecture of Late Soviet Central Asia. Architecture beyond Europe, vol. 13. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.4509

Frampton, Kennett. (1983). Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance. In The Anti-Aesthetic. Essays on Postmodern Culture. Seattle: Bay Press. p. 45–90

Gopkalo, Vadim et al. (1969) Zastroyka i okhrana architekturnych pamyatnikov [Construction and the conservation of historic monuments]. Stroitel’stvo i Arkhitektura, no. 2: 3-4.

Ignatkin, Ilyia. (1969) “O sokhranenii istoricheskih i arkhitekturnyh traditsiy v zastroyke gorodov,” [On the preservation of historical and architectural traditions in the urban development] Stroitel’stvo i Arkhitektura, no. 3: 21-23.

Inozemtseva, Muliar, Piskovskiy, & Solovyov. (1988). Zhilischnoye Stroitelstvo v Ukrainskoy SSR. Sovremenniy etap, problemy, perpektivy (Nikolay Zharikov Ed.). Kyiv: Budivel’nyk.

Jacobs, Jane (1961). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Vintage.

Krier, Leon , & Vidler, Anthony. (1978). Rational Architecture: The Reconstruction of the European City / Architecture Rationnelle: La Reconstruction de la Ville Europeenne. : AAM Editions.

Krier, Rob, & Rowe, Colin. (1979). Urban space. London: Academy editions London.

Krivý, Maroš. (2017). Quality of Life or Life-in-Truth? A Late-Socialist Critique of Housing Estates in Czechoslovakia. In Ákos Moravánszky & Torsten Lange (Eds.), Re-Framing Identities. Architecture's Turn to History, 1970-1990. East West Central. Re-Building Europe 1950-1990. Basel: Birkhäuser.

Krivý, Maroš. (2016). Postmodernism or Socialist Realism? The Architecture of Housing Estates in Late Socialist Czechoslovakia. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 75(1), 74-101. doi:10.1525/jsah.2016.75.1.74 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/jsah.2016.75.1.74

Kulic, Vladimir. (2019). Second World Postmodernisms: Architecture and Society Under Late Socialism. Bloomsbury Publishing. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350014459

Kurg, Andres. (2009). Architects of the Tallinn School and the critique of Soviet modernism in Estonia. The Journal of Architecture, vol.14 no.1, 85-108. doi:10.1080/13602360802705171 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13602360802705171

Leonid Voitsekhov. (1991) [Unpublished essay on the conditions of cultural development in Ukraine in 1980-s]. Odesa

Lositskiy, Yuriy & Vlasova Tatyana. (1991) “Kievskiy Podol – Evolutsia Tzennostey” [Kyiv`s Podol – an evolution of values]. Architektura SSSR, no. 1-2: 26–31.

Malyshenko, Olga. (1969) “Pamyatniki architekury v sovremennoy zastroike gorodov” [Architectural monuments in the contemporary urban development] Stroitel’stvo i Arkhitektura, no. 9: 13-15.

Mankus, Martynas. (2017). “Socialist Postmodernism. The Case of the Late Soviet Lithuanian Architecture,” Architecture and Urban Planning, vol. 13, no. 1: 61-66. doi:10.1515/aup-2017-0009 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/aup-2017-0009

Markhin, Valentyn (1988) “Preemstvennost` v Razvitii” [Сontinuity in evolution] Stroitel’stvo i Arkhitektura, no 4: 14-18.

Miletskiy, Avraam (1998) Naplyvy Pamyati [Memories coming back] Jerusalem: Filobiblon.

Plyashko, Leonid & S’yedin, Aleksandr. (1969) “Sokhranit’ istoricheskiy oblik Kieva,” [To preserve the historical view of Kyiv] Stroitel’stvo i Arkhitektura, no 5: 29-30.

Ryabushin, Aleksandr (1978) “O povyshenii kachestva i effektivnosti arhitekturnogo tvorchestva,” [About the increase in quality and efficiency of architectural production] in Yuriy Yaralov (ed.): Zodchestvo 2. Moscow: Stroiizdat, 8-12

S’edin, Aleksandr. (1989). „Kvartal V-14 na Podole“ [The V-14 block in Podil]. Arhitektura SSSR, 1-2: 28–43.

Shalatskyi, Yuriy. (15th of September, 2018). Presonal interview (restricted use). Kyiv

Sokolov, Nikolay. (1978) „Beseda s anonimom,” [Сonversation with anonymous] in Yuriy Yaralov (ed.): Zodchestvo 2. Moscow: Stroiizdat, 29-34

Syetin, Nikolay. (1988). “Industrialnoye - znachit krupnopanelnoye?” [If industrially produced – only of large panels?] Arhitektura SSSR, 3-4: p 14-18.

Szacka, Kateryna, & Krivy, Maros. (2018). The political aesthetics of postmodernism. Between late socialism and late capitalism. The 5th International Meeting of the European Architectural History Network, Tallinn, Estonia.

Taranenko, Serhiy (2017) Planyvalna struktura davnyoruskoho Podoly Kyeva: formuvannya i rozvytok [The urban structure of Podil in Kyiv in the times of Ancient Rus`: formation and dvelopment] Second edition, Kyiv: Institute of archaeology.

Urban, Florian. (2017). The New Tenement: Residences in the Inner City Since 1970. London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315402468

Urban, Florian. (2019). “Postmodernism and socialist mass housing in Poland,” Planning Perspectives, 35(1), 27-60. doi:10.1080/02665433.2019.1672208 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02665433.2019.1672208

Vechirniy Kyiv (1971) “Kyivs`ki Pompeii” [The Pompei of Kyiv] (2) Kyiv: Pechatniy organ Kievskogo gorsipolkoma.

Volodymyr Nikitin. (4th of January, 2020). Personal interview (restricted use). Kyiv

Yezhov, Valentin (2001) Polveka glazami arhitektora [Half a century through the eyes of an architect] Kyiv: NIITAG/KNUSA

Yurchenko, Petro. (1969) “Istoria i sovremenniy gorod,” [History and the contemporary city] Stroitel’stvo i Arkhitektura, (7), 15.

Yurchenko, Petro. (1969) “Rekonstruktsiya Kieva i pamyatniki architekury,”[The reconstruction of Kyiv and historic monuments] Stroitel’stvo i Arkhitektura, (2), 5-9.




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, (13 (1), 276–307. https://doi.org/10.15407/mics2022.01.276