Architecture + Grahpic design – Nvard Yerkanian has created a series of minimal and subtly colourful illustrations of Armenian Soviet Modernist architecture built between the ’60s and ’80s. The designs portrait impressive buildings and structures many of which are neglected due to the country’s fast-paced urban development as well as the will to move forward from a past these architecture represent while being deeply rooted in people’s memories.
- RELATED STORIES: discover more brutalist architecture and design on Archipanic…
“Since childhood I was fascinated by these fantastic buildings. They looked like concrete spaceships landed in my city, mysterious objects that catch your sight like magnets.” Says Nvard Yerkanian to Archipanic.
The Armenian architecture graduate felt that an illustration series could help people and authorities to rethink and revalue these buildings. “Many people wrote to me that the illustrations bring back memories of 60s and 70s, memories of youth and childhood, and they enjoy being surrounded with those sweet memories.”
The colour palette of the illustrations represent the designer’s memories, stories, atmosphere, and feelings. “Some are realistic, but some are just there to show my overwhelmed fascination towards their forms.”
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia national agenda was to create a new urban landscape image. “Armenia was finally independent, and we wanted to get rid of anything that would remind about the Soviet past.”
After a wave of privatization of lands and buildings, some of these architectural monuments were destroyed, or abandoned to deteriorate from weather conditions, and absence of care. For example, the Cinema Moscow Open Air Hall have already lost its frontal part in the past, and was totally altered by an “ugly” cafeteria that occupied the entire frontal part of it.
“With a group of friends and architects we managed to save the building through a petition and events raising public awareness towards modernist architecture in Armenia.” Says Yerkanian. In the last few years a lot of work has been done by art curators, architects and historians to bring back the interest and appreciation for modernist architecture.
Indeed, in the beginning of 2000s Yerevan – the designer’s home town – started drastically transform with high rise buildings growing here and there around the city, and the abandoned modernist buildings were considered as useless construction that occupy expensive land.
“There is no building in the series, that I haven’t seen in real life, and I have an emotional connection to each of them in some way. They are part of my biography, and each illustration secretly caries my memories and my personal stories living around those buildings.”
“There is a raising interest on Socialist and Brutalist architecture, and we have quite a few of them in Armenia. This monuments can become a destination for travelers looking for something different in a country that is mostly famous for its unique monasteries and churches.”
All images: courtesy of Nvard Yerkanian.
- RELATED STORIES: discover more architecture and design from Armenia on Archipanic…