• A House for Culture:
    An Inquiry into the Architecture of the Kibbutz and the Kolkhoz
    Nicolas Grospierre
    Pedro Gadanho, Mart Kalm, and Yuval Yasky
    Karolina Andrzejewska-Batko
    National Institute for Architecture and Urban Planning, 2022
    Nicolas Grospierre

Nicolas Grospierre, “House of Culture Auditorium,” 2014, Põdrangu, Estonia. Courtesy the artist

The modernist project often perceived architecture not only as an end in itself, but also as a means supporting the harmonious development of society. This view of architecture as social design bloomed in two analogous yet dissimilar organizations: the Israeli Kibbutz and the Soviet Kolkhoz. In both systems, architecture, and especially the communal buildings, were seen as the backbone of the communities’ internal dynamics. Consequently, houses of culture, dining halls, and libraries were systematically built in most kibbutzim and in many kolkhozes of the Baltic states. Because of their perceived central role as community supports, their architecture was often representative and experimental. However, the demise of socialism and privatization trends led many common buildings to be transformed or simply abandoned. A House for Culture reveals the current state of these buildings through a photographic cross-comparative typology laid out in a photo book. Ultimately, this project shows the forgotten ideals of this utopian-inspired architectural achievement and its legacy today.

Nicolas Grospierre is a visual artist working in the expanded field of photography. He has systematically been documenting late modernist architecture, the result of which was published as Modern Forms. A Subjective Atlas of 20th century Architecture (Prestel, 2016). Together with Kobas Laksa, Grospierre was awarded the Golden Lion at the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale. Grospierre's use of photography as a medium, ranges from classical documentary photography to elaborate photomontages, video, and spatial installations. In his work, Grospierre uses the visual language of architecture to create narratives, which relate not simply to the buildings photographed, but more broadly to concepts, institutions, and ideologies. Grospierre has exhibited extensively, and his latest shows include: A Subjective Atlas of Modern Architecture, Fort Institute of Photography, Warsaw (2019); The Best Possible City, Architektur Galerie, Munich (2018); Modern Forms, Architecture Association, London (2016); and The Oval Offices, Maison de la Photographie, Lille (2014).