Introducing the Envers

January 24, 2008 by
Filed under: Articles of Fedderization, Bushwick, Williamsburg 

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:

Albania Bunkers Small

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…

Hoxha House taken by Jim Rees

to rustic rusting institutional…

Albanian apartment building taken by Jim Rees

and last, but hardly least: downright hideous.

Enver’s pyramid taken by Jim Rees

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:

  1. The visual aesthetics of said building are in keeping with the Soviet era.
  2. The construction quality of said building is akin to something built during the cold war. Extensive use of cement is a plus.
  3. 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:

58 Ten Eyck Street

58 Ten Eyck

This splendid example of the International style (and by this I mean Communist International style) is a proletarian paradise.

58 Ten Eyck detail

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!

58 Ten Eyck fence

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.

4 bunkers

Stay tuned, there are even more cold war beauties awaiting an Enver nod from the very same block!

Miss Heather

Photo Credits: All Albanian photographs save the bunker, Jim Rees.
Albanian Bunker, Wikipedia.


7 Comments on Introducing the Envers

  1. bboy on Thu, 24th Jan 2008 2:21 pm
  2. Heather, you fucking rock

  3. missheather on Thu, 24th Jan 2008 2:23 pm
  4. Um, thanks. I think. 😉

  5. hoho on Thu, 24th Jan 2008 2:53 pm
  6. 58 Ten Eyck (EEEEEKkk) is a beauty. No doubt. Who wouldn’t covet an abode in that valhalla? Oh the glamour of waiting in a breadline, having your phones bugged and your passport confiscated for owning a Beatles record. Good times.

  7. missheather on Thu, 24th Jan 2008 3:02 pm
  8. Yeah, the real pisser is Albania has better looking architecture than good ol’ “East Williamsburg” nowadays.

    Granted, these are not for everyone. But they are still a HELLUVA lot better than the Commie-era construction I saw on Ten Eyck.

  9. rexlic on Thu, 24th Jan 2008 5:59 pm
  10. We need to see Hard Hat Hannah in front of these grotesqueries, with one or both of her wittle thumbs resoundingly DOWN. When is Hannah gonna make her 2008 debut, BTW? Now’s the perfect time.

  11. marvis on Fri, 25th Jan 2008 7:47 pm
  12. Heather,

    I really enjoy your website and I also love your shoutout to Mr. Hoxha. However I would lke to point out that Albania was not allied with Soviet Russia. We were in full alignment with Communist China before the downfall of Communism. The Hoxha boxes were not just to defend against the West, they were also to defend against the rest of the Eastern European Communist world. Albania was a true isolationist state as well.

  13. marvis on Fri, 25th Jan 2008 7:50 pm
  14. By the way, Albania had and has the biggest proportion of Athiests in the world. Mr. hoxha and Albanian culture are not too far apart ideology-wise.

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