retkinia

location: lódz, poland
time: 1970s

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"the only housing estate with a well preserved medieval street structure", says my companion, grown up in the place. indeed, the neighbourhood was erected in a former surburban village of lódz, and the blocks are following the original pathways in a manner relatively unknown in the mass housing construction industry. because of its rainbow colour renovated facades retkinia looks like a permanent gay pride demonstration, combined with the rather unfitting culture of the łks łódz ultras. the war between łks and widzew football clubs can be seen on the walls everywhere in lódz, constituting a defining element in the city’s visual realm.

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the house numbers follow the user friendly polish avantgarde very common in the country’s housing estates.

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i am lucky to have a personal guide: he says some magical word in polish to the entryphone, and the door opens to an endless block. we go up to the top with the creepy doorless elevator, typical in the polish buildings built in the 1970s, look down in the depths, talk a bit about suicide rates, then go over the next blocks through the secret corridor which connects all the buildings on the 10th floor. this feels inexplicably exciting.

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this last one looks like it’s actually built from lego, that’s everything we’ve ever gone for. there is also a tramline going to the neighbourhood, we got no more wishes.

võru

location: võru county, estonia
time: 1960s, 1970s

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there is no one in võru, only old ladies and fishermen appear on the streets sometimes, and somewhat younger ladies behind the counters of the soviet timetravel confectionaries, where they sell those small portions of salads with mayonnaise, potato and dill in tiny glass bowls. we are suddenly reminded of our soviet childhood in a time never existed. looks they went for a holiday, but they didn’t, they just stayed at home, or simply never existed, only 13000 of them. and it’s a summer midday, what did we expect? tamula lake lies in the end of the town, creating a misty air over the houses, both the wooden and concrete ones. a dark rain is coming from nowhere, we get into one of the uncountable charity shops, and purchase warmer clothes; each of them covered by flowers.

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i’ve never seen a place in estonia where wooden and concrete buildings were standing next to each other in such an evident harmony.

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the outskirts are a different climate

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varissuo

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location: turku, finland
time: 1970s, 1980s

i was traveling all the afternoon. infinite curves and spirals in this mediocre port city. then i’ve seen these houses finally, and got off from the bus. varissuo was built on a meadow. the finnish people call it a problematic district. 32 percent of the inhabitants are immigrants. i am walking in a dreamlike ghetto in new york. finally something with meaning. the moomins definitely don’t live here, maybe the groke at best. pine trees and high rises merge into the dusk, people switch on the lights in their windows, all of them is a reminder, home is where the heart is far away.

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halinen

location: turku, finland
time: 1970s

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my fingers tend to type funland constantly. who would say something like that about this sinking rainy land. here immigrants live mixed with students, slava says happily in a downtown café when i mention where i go: my home! i am traveling with the star-shaped cookies got from her, with my 2.50 euros ticket to adventure. there is nothing here, the bus turns around at one point; hungarian higher middle class families live so hidden in their hillside houses like here. leaves are outstanding contrast to the other parts of the landscape; playgrounds, without any hint to the space age, stand in the fog, waiting for a spring which is deeply hidden in the future yet.

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lauste

location: turku, finland
time: 1960s, 1970s


if the múmins had lived on a housing estate, that would have looked like this one: maybe just the illusory weather, but lauste looked like a tiny cartoon empire, where nothing remains on its place for long time, and building bricks are placed on the ground in the playful oblivion. because, eventually, nobody was there, only a girl with an umbrella, and an apparently disadvantaged couple who were pulling a shopping trolley and having a very unpleasant quarrel (some things never change anywhere?)

but come on, it’s october, the fictive inhabitants probably started their winter sleep already.

runosmäki

location: turku, finland
time: 1970s


the largest suburb of turku, with 20 percent of immigrant population. i get off the bus n18 a bit frightened, no idea why here, after all east europe. but nothing happens, really nothing, a few people walking on the streets, one group of kids, pensioners, grownups walking dogs, hardly any sign of life, because these places are not built for that, however impressive the vegetation is around them. finland is good in that: all housing estates look like elite healthcare institutions in the middle of a park full of primal trees, and sometimes it’s really hard to imagine the “serious problems” that are written in the articles on them, but in the end, segregation knows no borders.

no answer petrograd

location: õismäe, tallinn, estonia
time: 2010 november 

i don’t think i’ll ever be as happy as i was in that autumn in estonia

minsk tetris

location: minsk, belarus
time: 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s…

tsentralny, sovietski, pershamaysky, partyzansky, zavodski, leninski, kastrichnitsky, moskovski, frunzenski… whatever. all sounds beautiful. i couldn’t find out where we are, street names are rare commodities in this land. but there are colorful tetris facades, rocket playgrounds, multicolor televisions, and all the shapes of the space age.

hello minsk

location: minsk, belarus
time: 18 July 2012 

welcome to minsk, where the past has not ended,

concrete skyscrapers are perpetually being constructed, light coloured high rises representing constant serenity, but cannot hide the overall greyness emanating from the city.

welcome to minsk, where the distant blocks glare like forgotten ruins of ancient towns in the accidental sunlight.

wilanów

location: warsaw, poland
time: 1960-70s


next to wilanów palace, the polish versailles.

land of the pastels, bathrooms, balconies. green trees, concrete overpasses, loud city highways.

the diplomat housing estate.

the glass covered staircases.

the riverside and the polish caramel candies.

land of the early nineties, the memories before our birth.

the rain.

the future.

(the elite: here the 70s urban space starts to recall some desperate housewives scene. or, in this light, a bit of tel-aviv.)