Introducing the Envers
Today I have a very special treat to share with you, dear readers: the first installment of the Enver Hoxha Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Architecture, or “The Envers” for short. Who is Enver Hoxha and what does he have to do with architecture, you ask? Read on and learn for yourself!
Enver Hoxha (per Wikipedia):
…was the leader of Albania from the end of World War II until his death in 1985, as the First Secretary of the Communist Albanian Party of Labour. He was also Prime Minister of Albania from 1944 to 1954 and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1946 to 1953. Hoxha’s rule was characterized by isolation from the rest of Europe and his proclaimed firm adherence to anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninism, which has been dubbed “Hoxhaism”. Albania’s government of the time projected the image that it had emerged from semi-feudalism to become an industrialized state…
And lest we forget, the following are without argument Mr. Hoxha’s most lasting contributions to the field of architecture:
Hoxha’s legacy also included a complex of over 600,000 one-man concrete bunkers across a country of 3 million inhabitants, to act as look-outs and gun emplacements. The bunkers were built strong and mobile, with the intention that they could be easily placed by a crane or a helicopter in a previously dug hole. The types of bunkers vary from machine gun pillboxes, beach bunkers, to naval underground facilities, and even Air Force Mountain and underground bunkers. There were over 700,000 pillboxes built and around 500,000 pillboxes were reported to still be in good condition and ready to serve in case of war.
In keeping with his Soviet
comrades counterparts, Mr. Hoxha’s bunker fetish spilled over into the civilian sector. The effects of this concrete chic ranged anywhere from a hodgepodge of disharmonious architectural elements…
rustic rusting institutional…
and last, but hardly least: downright hideous.
Now that we have had a primer in Albanian Communist Dictators and reviewed some breathtaking examples of Albanian architecture, let’s get down to business. My criteria for assessing the “Enverness” of a given building are as follows:
- The visual aesthetics of said building are in keeping with the Soviet era.
- The construction quality of said building is akin to something built during the cold war. Extensive use of cement is a plus.
- A combination of architectural styles employed in a manner whose end product is anything but pleasing to the eyes. BIG PLUS.
In addition, I will be featuring a rating system called “the bunkers”. On a scale of one to five (with five being full-blown Tirana), the more bunkers a building gets, the more Enver-like are its qualities.
The previous all having been said, let us proceed with today’s Enver Award for Outstanding Achievement in Architecture:
This splendid example of the International style (and by this I mean Communist International style) is a proletarian paradise.
Mismatched paint, a masterful knowledge of the manifold shades of gray, windowless sheet metal doors and only five stops from Manhattan?!? That’s like living behind the iron curtain but without all the fuss. You can live in a rusting hulk of Soviet caliber crap and wear your Yankee blue jeans at the same time. What a concept!
The fence polishes off this gulag nicely. I wonder if its underlying intent is to keep people out of this property or to keep them in? If it is the latter, I guess today the prisoners got a furlough.
All in all, this is pretty damned Enveresque. I will, however, have to knock off a point for the relative kemptness of the balconies and effort made to conceal the satellite dishes on the roof. All in all, I give 58 Ten Eyck four bunkers.
Stay tuned, there are even more cold war beauties awaiting an Enver nod from the very same block!
Photo Credits: All Albanian photographs save the bunker, Jim Rees.
Albanian Bunker, Wikipedia.