cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
 

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'

from the ideal cities of the renaissance, to modernist utopias such as brasília or chandigarh, ‘model’ cities have existed throughout history. however, pyongyang, the capital of north korea, is a metropolis like no other. kitsch, colorful, and dramatic, the city’s architecture is often compared to the aesthetic of a wes anderson film, where it is difficult to distinguish between reality and theater. now, a new book by cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić takes readers on a photographic journey through the ‘socialist’ architecture and grand visions of north korea’s secretive capital, which was entirely rebuilt following the korean war.

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
monument to party founding, axis 1 | main image: kim il sung square, city center
all images © 2019 cristiano bianchi

 

 

the publication, titled model city pyongyang, features 200 color illustrations of buildings rarely seen by non-north koreans, as well as diagrams and architectural drawings that reveal the planning behind the city’s elaborate symbolism. the images are complemented by texts from experts on korean architecture — including an excerpt from on architecture by kim jong-il, father of the current leader kim jong-un. alongside their photos, cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić explain the context of each landmark — research which was supported by koryo studio and korea cities federation.

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
electronics industry hall

 

 

fascinated by the city’s built environment, and how its society interacts with it, bianchi and drapić wanted to convey pyongyang’s theatrical and somewhat alien atmosphere. ‘we wanted to capture this feeling of ‘fictional reality’ by following the techniques used by korean artists when depicting the supreme leaders or sacred spaces,’ say the authors in the book’s introduction.

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
sungri street ‘social condensers’

 

 

‘we were fascinated by the striking way in which the sky is represented in art and propaganda — sometimes a simple gradient of colors; sometimes a hyper-saturated sunset or sunrise,’ continue the authors. consequently, the backdrop of each photograph in the book has been replaced with a color gradient, evoking the idealized pastel skies of the country’s propaganda posters.

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
hazy cityscape

 

 

‘model city pyongyang’ presents the city’s architecture in comprehensive detail, from its monumental axes to its symbolic sports halls and experimental housing concepts. accompanying the images, the book’s foreword has been penned by essayist pico iyer, while the publication also features essays from nick bonner and simon cockerell of koryo studio and architecture critic oliver wainwright. ‘model city pyongyang’ is published by the MIT press and is available to purchase online.

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
central youth hall

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
pyongyang ice rink

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
changgwang health complex

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
may day stadium

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
may day stadium

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
mansudae art theatre, somun street

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
mangyongdae children’s palace

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
the subterranean monument, yonggwang station

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
puhung station

cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić document pyongyang, north korea's 'model city'
mirae scientists street

 

 

project info:

 

name: model city pyongyang
authors: cristiano bianchi and kristina drapić, preface by pico iyer
publisher: the MIT press
format: 224 pp. | hardcover, 8.25 in x 7.25 in, 200 color illus.
ISBN: 9780262043335
price: $29.95 USD
release: october 2019

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