Kaliningrad

House of the Soviets

  Leninsky pr.     22 May 2018
If all the eyesores in the world had a mother then this 21-storey derelict behemoth, plonked brazenly on a prime piece of city centre real estate, would be her! Designed in 1967 by Leo Misozhnikov, apparently inspired by the modern civic buildings put up by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in Brasilia and intended to house the regional Communist Party HQ, construction began in 1970 close to where Königsberg Castle had been prior to WW2. The plans were necessarily grand, with accompanying gardens and fountains also projected, but just as the building itself was nearing completion in the late 1980s, the economic tensions brought about by the Perestroika reform movement caused it to come to a standstill. 

In 1995 it was transferred to private ownership but ambitious plans to turn it into a “Cultural and Business Centre” also failed to come to fruition and it was sold on again in 2003. This time the legality of the transaction was put under the spotlight, once more preventing development of the now dilapidated structure, and in 2010 the deal was finally adjudged by a court to be invalid. In the meantime, however, the outside had been given a state-sponsored facelift to celebrate the 750th anniversary of Kaliningrad in 2005 and that is the state in which it remains at the current moment.  

Described recently by one local politician as ‘The Shame of Kaliningrad’ but also affectionately known by locals as “The Buried Robot”, we've been assured that it is not likely to be demolished any time soon despite regular public calls to do so. Indeed, novel ways in which to use the space are starting to get the nod from local government and a hugely successful youth subculture initiative, hosted on two floors over two weeks in Autumn 2015 to showcase talent and conduct workshops, may well be a signal of more permanent things to come. Now wouldn't that be an ironic and unexpected twist in the story of this strangely endearing monstrosity?      

Tip: Although it is not officially open to the public, grab a local & they might just be able to negotiate entry with the security guards for a small fee.
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