In what state are today the housing estates built in the twentieth century inspired in the countries of the USSR by the Russian experience of collective housing apartments and in the rest of Europe by the Corbusian theories on L’Unite d’habitation? How did they resist almost half a century after Pruitt-Ego’s implosion in the 1970s, symbolic mark of the crisis of modernist ideals in architecture and urbanism? This architecture, still new in terms of temporal scale, places us before the following patrimonial question: what to do with these buildings? Restore them, update them or give them up to real estate disinterestedness to become premature ruins, witnesses to the failure not only of the modernist utopia, but of constructive human nature itself?
The documentary 16 District, 16 Floors, 16 People calls into question the perenniality of modernist architecture by showing the state of precariousness of the last social housing buildings built before the collapse of the USSR. The set of buildings in Armenia, completed in the 1980s, is the setting for the reports about maintenance, functionality and finishing problems, but also about the expectations and disenchantment of the residents, about human lives conditioned by the design of space.
Within the postmodern skyscrapers of London, the iconic Robin Hood Gardens resists, by the modernists Peter and Alison Smithson. In the documentary The Disappearance of Robin Hood, in the course of discussions about its demolition, residents’ narratives bring to the surface the sense of belonging that has been built in these buildings over the past 50 years. Even so, demolition seems inevitable when a process of urban land valorization is underway that reaches peripheral areas previously reserved for the low-income population.
Off Season is a film about the Machnác building, a former spa sanatorium abandoned in Slovakia, an architectural work of historical value. The situation of speculative abandonment of the building goes against the wishes of the local community, interested in restoring it. The film evokes heritage reflections on how to deal with this type of modernist architecture that increasingly loses its typological relevance.
16 District, 16 Floors, 16 People
Armenia, 2018, 19’
The Disappearance of Robin Hood
Klearjos Eduardo Papanicolaou
Switzerland, 2018, 25’
Slovakia, 2018, 35’