In 1928, an international team of architects and engineers traveled south to Zaporizhia, Ukraine. Their purpose was to create a Socialist city, or Sotsgorod, a place of new ideological beginnings. Sotsgorod was to be a “new city” for a “new people.” Just as important, however, was its inclusion in the first Five-Year Plan aimed at rapid industrialization. Built in proximity to raw materials, Sotsgorod employed workers in the factories that powered the quickly growing Soviet economy.
The force that made it possible was Constructivism, a twentieth century philosophical and artistic movement that stressed that art should serve a constructive, social purpose. It went on to influence architectural giants such as Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, as well as graphic and industrial design more broadly. The head architect at Zaporizhia Sotsgorod, Victor Vesnin, was a pioneer in the Constructivist movement. He and his two brothers were among the most distinguished Soviet architects at the time; his most famous work is the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station (DniproHES), around which was built the neighboring Sotsgorod. Completed in 1932, the dam was the largest of its time and the pride of the USSR.
LONELY PLANET DESCRIBES ZAPORIZHIA, A CITY OF 750,000 on the River Dnieper, in the country’s southeastern corner, as a city that is “so, so Soviet.” Other common descriptions are: “provincial,” “industrial,” and “working-class.” Known for its thick Cossack history and sprawling metallurgical plants, this is generally not a city renowned for cultural happenings.