Early Modernism of the 1920s-1930s


  • Svitlana Smolenska




Modernism, Ukraine, architecture and urban planning, 1920-1930s


This article is devoted to the search for answers to several burning questions: what is the uniqueness of the industrial, civil and residential architecture of Ukraine in the 1920s - early 1930s? Does it need to be preserved? Why did foreign architectural criticism call these years the “heroic period of architecture”, yet the early Modernism of that time is still not appreciated at its true worth in its homeland? What was ‘heroic’ in the architecture of Ukraine and its first capital, Kharkiv? A brief analysis of the political and economic situation in which the newly-born independent Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic found itself is given. The most striking examples of modernist architecture in Ukraine are selected for argumentation. These are industrial giants such as Dniproges and Kharkiv Turbine Plant, the new cities of Zaporizhzhia and New Kharkiv, grandiose metropolitan projects: the ensemble of Svoboda Square—the largest square in Europe, as well as other examples of avant-garde architecture built or developed in those years are presented in the article. The reasons for their loss of authenticity in subsequent decades are revealed. Finally, the problem of preserving the heritage of Modernism in Ukraine in the conditions of a new war is touched upon.

How to Cite

Smolenska, S. (2022). THE HEROIC PERIOD OF ARCHITECTURE IN UKRAINE: Early Modernism of the 1920s-1930s. Docomomo Journal, (67).




Author Biography

Svitlana Smolenska

Svitlana Smolenska, Sc. D (Architecture), Prof., Kharkiv School of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning. She was born and received her architectural education in Kharkiv, defended her Ph.D thesis in 1993 (Scientific Research Institute of Theory and History of Architecture and Urban Planning, Moscow) and received her Sc.D. diploma in 2017 (Lviv Polytechnic National University, Ukraine). She is an expert of ISC20C, a member of the national ICOMOS (Ukraine), of the Union of Journalists of Ukraine. Her professional interests are: urban environment research, architecture and town planning of the 20th century as cultural heritage. Funded by Volkswagen Foundation 2022-23.


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