Discovering what I would consider to be unusual examples of architecture is a major plot point in how I create itineraries. Whether it’s random geodesic domes and Ferris wheels, religious structures that can’t make up their minds, or tackily-colored eyesores, I have made many a pilgrimage to these types of (subjectively?) zany attractions.
To wit, one of the branches of architecture with which I have uncomfortable familiarity is the Brutalist style; to sum up Brutalism, lots of concrete (or brick), any number of forms/shapes, and a staple of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. But really, Brutalism can be found all over the place, from the University of California at San Diego and Boston’s City Hall, to Tunis’ Hôtel du Lac, and the Barbican Centre in London, England.
According to allthatsinteresting.com, Brutalism resulted from major shortages of raw materials following the end of World War II. That’s why the structures are barely detailed, beyond the concrete or brick skeleton. The French architect Le Corbusier was a strong proponent of this construction, as it stressed function over style; hence, you will see many low-income housing projects (e.g. Eastern Europe and France), government buildings (Boston’s City Hall for sure), and universities born out of Brutalist designs.
With that short backgrounder, today’s architectural spotlight takes us within the ambit of Armenian architects. I present the Cinema Rossiya, located in the Armenian capital of Yerevan:
Constructed between 1968 and 1975 by Armenian architects Spartak Khachikyan, Hrachik Poghosyan, and Artur Tarkhanyan, Cinema Rossiya was the largest movie theater in the country, able to accommodate around 2500 visitors.
Having been built to resemble the lower and higher peaks of the revered Armenian symbol of Mt. Ararat (psssh, nowadays Mt. Ararat is geographically located in Turkey), Cinema Rossiya later came to be known as Soviets Rossiya and Aryarat. You might want to read a bit about the regional history to grasp the importance that Mt. Ararat holds in Armenian history.
Soon after the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic ceased to exist,
on 23 September 1991, Cinema Rossiya was sadly abandoned.
Within a few years, some street vendors set up tents inside; currently, most of the theater has been converted into a shopping mall. If you’d like to pay this anachronistic and architectural relic a visit, it’s right above the Zoravar Andranik metro station, close to downtown Yerevan.
Have you visited Yerevan? Are you a fan of Brutalist architecture?