PRESS RELEASE : Fragile Brutalism Ukrainian mass housing : past | war | future

For more information contact:

Eddy Rhead -

Elena Michajlowska -

Kyiv-born urban graphic project SERIA___ presents a graphic exhibition and a panel discussion on Ukrainian mass housing, its Soviet utopian past, its present-day fragility in the face of the war and the future of the Ukrainian urban landscape.

An exhibition at the modernist gallery in Manchester combines ceramics, graphic artwork and oral history excerpts to tell the story of ‘panelki’, the prefab concrete mass housing buildings, and the people who inhabit them in Ukraine.

artwork by SERIA___ project, Dasha Podoltseva and Elena Orap

‘panelki’ oral history by Margarita Novikova

curated by Elena Michajlowska

opening 9 March 2023 at 18.00

runs 10 March - 10 May 2023

the modernist gallery and shop, 58 Port St, Manchester M1 2EQ

A panel discussion at the Manchester School of Architecture is led by Prof. Jane Pavitt (Head of Research and Learning Zaha Hadid Foundation) with SERIA_ founders, Dasha Podoltseva (visual artist, urban researcher) and Elena Orap (researcher at EPFL, architect) joining the talk.

8 March 2023 from 17.00 to 18.30 Manchester Technology Centre, Studio E, 3rd Floor, Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7ED

In the wake of the WWII destruction, the Soviet Union carried out the largest mass housing construction campaign in history. Tall, grey, angular, and stern-faced, these mass-housing buildings are still an integral part of urban DNA in cities across the former communist countries in Europe. In Ukraine, at the start of 2022, approx. 45% of urban households lived in such building blocks called ‘panelki’ in reference to their construction method using prefabricated concrete slabs — panels.

Built out of necessity for economical and abundant housing, they were also considered modernist and desirable. Like their European and American counterparts, Ukrainian architects of these post-war buildings channelled their vision of an idealist modernist future through them. But the War in Ukraine made it apparent that not only are these brutalist buildings fragile, but the very future imagined in the 20th century is fragile too.

Since its foundation in 2018 SERIA_ project has been promoting Ukrainian mass housing heritage though artworks and graphic design to bring a positive change to neglected apartment blocks. FRAGILE BRUTALISM is an artistic response to to the ongoing destruction of these formerly formidable buildings and the threat to the very existence of Ukraine.

Notes to editors:

Images of the book and the buildings featured that can be requested from

About The Modernist Society:

Founded as The Manchester Modernist Society in 2009 by Jack Hale, Eddy Rhead and Maureen Ward, The Modernist Society is a creative project dedicated to celebrating and engaging with twentieth century architecture, through publishing, events, exhibitions and creative collaborations.

Publishing arm 'the modernist' was established in 2011, initially publishing as a quarterly printed magazine. the modernist is now developing into a small press, publishing limited editions about 20th century architecture and design. The editor of the modernist is Ashiya Eastwood.

The Modernist Society enjoys the support of its excellent Patrons: Jonathan Meades and Johnny Marr. The Modernist Society is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company.