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Soviet Futurist Architecture: UFOs and Tears of the Times

   "Do you want to see UFOs?" a friend suddenly asked me one summer night when I was studying in the UK.

  I was shocked, this sounded too outrageous!

  With a mysterious smile, she pulled me on a flight to Bulgaria. After a few trips, I finally got a glimpse of the UFO in the outskirts of the city. It was a huge flying saucer-shaped building, standing alone on the gentle Buzluda Peak.

  It was late summer, and the grass was turning yellow. In front of the flying saucer is a flat and wide square. Weeds grow from the gaps in the stone bricks, making the faded buildings even more vicissitudes.

  This is of course not a real UFO, but the "Buzluda Monument" built by the Bulgarian Communist Party in the 1980s. Its shape is unique, even a bit offbeat, like a visitor from heaven, not a product of human civilization.

  "Buzluda Monument" is one of the representatives of Soviet futuristic architecture. The most unique aspect of this style is that it makes good use of geometric shapes, either square, round, or overlapping layers, giving it a grotesque feeling of rising up in the air and being light-footed and head-heavy.

  The UFO shape pays tribute to the future and eternity. There is also a rumor that it pays homage to Lenin - who, like an alien, brought advanced ideology and values.

  At first, in every sense, it was a monument to the people. Its construction funds are not allocated by the state, but "taken from the people" - one is donations from the Bulgarian people, and the other is raised by selling souvenirs in the private sector.

  Not only that, according to official data, in the seven years, there were "6,000 workers, many of whom volunteered to work for free". The outside world may not understand this enthusiasm, but it was something to be proud of for young people who were deeply influenced by Soviet ideology at the time, especially the UFO commemorating the Bulgarian patriots who resisted foreign aggression.

  It is not only a place for major meetings of the Communist Party of China, but also a museum. In the first 8 years of its establishment, Bulgarians came to the pilgrimage continuously, reaching a total of more than 3 million people, which was almost the entire population of this small Balkan country at that time.

  However, with the drastic changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the brilliance of the Buzluda Monument is no longer there. The guards evacuated, the gates were closed, and the thieves knocked on the windows to enter, looting the valuable facilities inside.

  Today, the "flying saucer" that has been abandoned for nearly 30 years has a mottled appearance, but its foundation is solid. Although the authorities banned tourists from visiting, citing security concerns, we were still able to sneak in through broken windows and half-broken basement doors. There are many ruin lovers and young tourists in Europe who are proud of entering such a building and check in one by one like stamp collecting.

  Inside the UFO is another world. Like traveling through time and space, back to tradition from the future. The designer himself also said that, drawing on the structure of the Pantheon in Rome, its interior is as grand and huge as the Italian classical architecture. Only the dark red five-pointed star, the fallen working-class frescoes and the Cyrillic letters remind people that this is Bulgaria.

  In the mid-20th century, like the vibrant Soviet Union, futuristic buildings sprang up like mushrooms after a spring rain, and the number skyrocketed. For example, the Science Palace in Warsaw, Poland, the Revolutionary Monument in the Croatian city Moslavina, the ceremonial palace in Georgia, the circular residential building in Russia, the Hoxha Pyramid in Tirana, the capital of Albania...

  They are absurd and wild, with a kind of eccentric Magnificent and romantic, full of sci-fi elements and imagination, the style is unique and self-contained.

  There was a more essential reason for the rise of the futuristic style during this period: the strength of the Soviet Union, the national will showed an unprecedented strong side, and the phrase "concentrating strength to do big things" was recognized from top to bottom. Strong collective power, industrial prosperity, people are full of expectations for the future.

  But the futuristic mania soon died.

  Over the past 30 years, these buildings bursting with extreme imagination have become the tears of the times. After the drastic changes in the Soviet Union, they became redundant and embarrassing, and inevitably went into decline. Young people have no memory, but feel that these behemoths are unusual and rustic; architects have long disapproved of such bizarre designs with large volumes and small practical spaces. Only the old man with gray temples, looking at them, remembered the old days, and still had an excited tone.

  Politicians have tried their best to tell the public that these buildings are not a shadow of the Soviet Union, but "the choice of the people". But today's people are giving their own real answers with practical actions.

  Today, most Soviet futurist buildings, like the Buzluda Monument, are reduced to symbolic ruins. There is neither the will to build nor the plan for demolition.

  There are also good places to stay. The Hoxha Pyramid in Tirana, for example, is now part of the Civic Park. Teenagers gather here, parkour, music, and nothing to do. Overcoming gravity and running all the way to the top of the pyramid, then squatting and watching the infinitely shrinking people under the tower is also a kind of consumption. I lay on the door and looked in, wanting to see what was going on. Two punk teenagers with dyed hair came out and shyly told me that the band was rehearsing inside.

  There are also those that are integrated into the 21st century and still maintain good functionality for people to live, work and consume. For example, the Palace of Science in Poland is not only a museum, but it has become a must-do item in the tourist guide when you go to the top floor and overlook the entire night view of Warsaw.

  When I arrived in Warsaw facing the severe winter wind in Eastern Europe, the whole city was brightly lit and full of tall buildings. It can be Shanghai, Dubai, New York, just like any metropolis in the world. When I approached the iron-cast safety net, I saw one after another of colorful locks with friendship, love and names written on them. This is the plain wish of the people.


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