Moment II: Tashkent, The model Soviet city in Asia: focal point of Asian socialism.

Fig.1 Model of Tashkent City Centre Project, developed by the Tashgiprogor Institute with the participation of the Central Research Institute for Urban Development.
Source: “Генеральный план развития Ташкента” [General Development Plan of Tashkent]. p.19
The public landscape of Tashkent has been taken over by the USSR for soviet nationalism. After the 1966 5.1 Richter scale Earthquake, Tashkent had to go through renewal of city planning. Masterplan of new Tashkent was developed by several Soviet Architects: архитекторы Л. Адамов (руководитель), М. Савельев, В. Ломаченко, Г. Левченко, Ю. Халдеев, Ю. Мирошниченко, А. Якушев, О. Рушковский, Ю. Пурецкий, М. Савельева, М. Неклюдова, М. Лифановская, инженеры А. Ванке, А. Стрельников, Д. Кривошеев, Р. Зубова, В. Щеглов, А. Стазаева, Г. Шагас. This new urban planning introduced western style of complete new forms of planning ideas, such as Garden City that Ebenezer Howard proposed. Disregarding original cultural mud-brick courtyard houses to apartment complexes, which has changed the appearance, as well as its residents and their lifestyle, which built a new form of city.

Redevelopment of Tashkent after the earthquake of 1966, could be said as the second critical moments of architectural revolution of Tashkent. The redevelopment of city centre of Tashkent was to moderate the landscape of Uzbek capital and bring ‘mature socialism’. In contrast to 1930s, many young architects involved in redesigning the city centre were integrated with local rather than Moscow-based design schools, focused on creating a public landscape that is celebrated both Uzbek and Soviet nationhood. However, this personal and political tension were inevitably surfaced on the built environment of Tashkent’s reconstructed city.

Fig.2 The tallest Lenin statue ever erected in the Soviet Union, presiding over Tashkent’s Lenin Square. The statue was erected in 1974. Photo: James Bell (1988).

Vladimir Lenin, was a Russian revolutionary, politician and theorist who was the leader of the government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924, and Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924, who was able to unify the Soviet Union as one Soviet Communist Party. He is well know for his political-philosophical movement, Marxism–Leninism, which aimed for the transformation of a capitalist state into a socialist state. 

Lenin Square (formerly Red Square), has got larger, including 3 huge glass-steel office buildings, which were taken over by Uzbek supreme soviet. A new museum honouring Lenin was built facing the square, and the tallest statue of Lenin, or Soviet leader even, ever in USSR was erected at the Lenin Square (fig. 2), which was a bold statement to suppress Uzbek elites from their nationalism. The dominant images were of technological progress and modernisation. The public spaces at the city centre were infused with an austere internationalism. This internationalism had a specific context: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Fig.3 The ‘Courage’ memorial commemorating the reconstruction of Tashkent following the 1966 earthquake. Photo: James Bell (1988).

‘Courage’ memorial shows the action against the terrible injustice of nature’s anger, an entire nation has risen to defend her stricken, according to the theme (fig.3). However, when looked deeply, the nation doesn’t only justify as Uzbek itself, but as the Soviet nations of Tashkent. The figures of man, woman and child do not represent a family, but as all Soviet man, Soviet woman and future Soviet generations, acting as a socialist archetypes, devoid of racial or ethnic heritage.

Overall, from these two examples of public spaces of Tashkent’s reconstructed city centre, Uzbek nationhood has deepened through architectural landscape, while encompassed ideology of Soviet identity. At the end, the ‘Courage’ memorial is subjects of the Soviet state, rather than Uzbek itself, and figure of Lenin, the Soviet grandfather, reminding Uzbek people of their place as Soviet-centred nation.

 

Source:

А.И. Банке, Ю.П. Пурецкий, А.В. Стазаева, А.В. Якушев. “Генеральный план развития Ташкента” [General Development Plan of Tashkent]. Издательство ЦК КП Узбекистана [Publishing House of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan]. Tashkent. 1967.

Alexander, Catherine., Victor. Buchli, and Caroline. Humphrey. “Urban Life in Post-Soviet Asia”. London ; New York: University College London Press, 2007.

Bell, James. “Redefining national identity in Uzbekistan: Symbolic Tensions in Tashkent’s Official Public Landscape.” Ecumene (continues as Cultural Geographies) 6, no.(2) (1999). 183-213.

Institute of Marxism-Leninism. CC CPSU. “Lenin: A Biography”. Progress Publishers, 1983.

Meuser, Philipp. “Seismic Modernism: Architecture and Housing in Soviet Tashkent”. Translated by Clarice Knowles (English) and Dmitrij Chmnelnizki (Russian). Berlin, Germany: DOM publishers, 2016.

Stronski, Paul. “Tashkent: Forging a Soviet City, 1930-1966”. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010.

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