By Owen Hatherley
The colossal, proverbially windswept plazas outfitted less than “really latest socialism” from the Twenties to the Nineteen Eighties are extensively thought of to be dead areas, designed to intimidate or at the very least provoke. but in the event that they are just of use to these in energy, why is it they've been used so effectively in protest? From Petrograd in 1917 to Independence sq. in Kiev throughout the Orange Revolution, those areas became focuses for mass protest. starting in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, and taking in Warsaw, Ljubljana, Kharkov and Moscow, Owen Hatherley heads looking for insurrection, architectural glory and horror. alongside the way in which he encounters the extra civic squares that changed their authoritarian predecessors and unearths that, mockingly, the previous centres of strength are extra conducive to dissent than those new, ostensibly democratic plazas.
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Additional resources for Across The Plaza: The Public Voids Of The Post-Soviet City
To the east and north is a pair of twostorey blocks with red hipped and tiled roofs, with folksy little openings near the top; at the bottom are the colonnades and restaurants. The more interesting part of the square, where its political provenance is revealed, is on the other side, Ulica Podrzeczna. Here are two more colonnaded low-rise blocks, also pretty, minimal and a little folksy. The folksy details bear close investigation. Much of it is simple exercises after Polish Renaissance design — free-style fluted columns, sgraffito patterns and balconies.
The interchange itself, the Bahnhof Potsdamer Platz, is among the place’s most convincing pieces of straightforward architecture, a perfectly detailed Miesian black steel and glass box with a Piranesian interior. Nearby are objects of legitimation of two regimes — the German Democratic Republic and the current unified Germany. The former is a stone marking the site where Karl Liebknecht proclaimed a socialist republic during the November Revolution of 1918; the DDR laying claim to the legacy of the revolutionary Spartacists.
Apart from the ground floor it is windowless, so at least the giant advert disease is not actively making anyone’s life more miserable. Running across the building, denoting where windows would otherwise have been, are strips of patterned metal, sharp and tactile. The steel frame is on display, and pod-like glass lifts shoot up and down the façade; these were added in a recent remodelling that also imposed a giant advertising screen and more space for adverts on the top floor. The use of bright, moving ‘supergraphics’ is certainly more interesting than the giant canvas ads, but there’s no accounting for what they depict: the galeria is currently decorated with, aside from the T-Mobile canvas, a big Pepsi sign and video ads for basketball and a School of English.