An Edifice On A Precipice

Kyiv is a city of golden domes and anarchic expansion. Within this metropolis, anchored by its patchwork of churches and monasteries, sits Obolon Raion: a relatively new district, planned in the mid-1960s. It is densely residential, comprising of high-rise, high-cost new housing blocks in a city which can draw its history back to the 9th century BC. Kyiv is a place which has born witness to both incremental and drastic change in it’s urban topography over the course of the last century alone. Above all, it is a city in which political corruption and social indifference is cemented into its very fabric.

This block, located on Prospect Heroiv Stalingradu 4, embodies these ubiquitous traits. Atop this collage of apartments sits a volume which is both an anachronism of it’s local context and, at the same time, a traditional anchor on the city’s skyline. A guilded onion dome, clad in Orthodox iconography and pinnacled with a cross, has been illegally homogenised into the existing structure.

There is a subconscious syndrome of indifference in Ukraine. Although it exists outside of the law, this parasitical expansion is the formal representation of a lack of proper municipal authority. Residents recognise that this is wrong but they’re indifferent to it. This particular golden dome represents a collective stasis between the passive population and its wealthy, active few. Is this simply a harmless product of the societal culture—a kitch representation of modernity—or an aggressive symbol of broken authority?

Photography of Obolon Raion by Anna Shtrittmatter. Other images sourced freely by the authors.