from thomas vau

© Thomas Vau 2024
All rights reserved. No use of images without permission.

About the project

BLOCKS PROJECT is the world’s most comprehensive photographic collection of socialist/communist block buildings in 30 countries of the former Eastern Bloc and Yugoslavia with up to 10,000 photos. The focus lies on the demonstration of large collections of visual differences and similarities in the area of housing / living and to make them accessible to the world. The project was designed as an architecture documentary relevant for collectors, universities, museums, state archives, and countless others all over the world.

The most extensive and unique documentation project of Block building facades worldwide was created by Tom Vau as part of his final thesis in Prague / 2008. Five years later, the impulse came to expand this project with the total space of the former Soviet bloc and Yugoslavia which is characterized by socialist and communist past and nowadays comprises a total of 30 countries.  This major project called „BLOCKS PROJECT“ with 30 countries and focused on prefabricated housing, especially in the major cities in those regions will end up with a collection of up to 10,000 photos.

Tom Vau’s interest for such visual mass refuges that provide housing estates dates back to the year 2006 when he relocated to Prague through an exchange program and moved to the northern Block of Bohnice. Hereby his interest was in the so called „králíkárny“ – the rabbit cages and their appearances in the social life outside the sweet mysterious figurehead poster of the culturally rich Old Town that Prague is. On closer inspection of the total urban space in many cities of the former Soviet bloc and Yugoslavia is shown a colorful conglomeration of concrete blocks, which usually exists outside the town centers. This second half of a city, marked by a wild applied make-up culture of any form of harmonious whole, seems often without great consideration to withdraw and become independent to a painting corner full of random color blobs. But the concrete blocks do not only act colorful, no one by western standards often nostalgic flair of past Architecture decades which was carried into the present day is still very much present.


The concerns in this project as a creative artist and architect is not to judge Block buildings positively or negatively in any way. The main task lies in the demonstration of large collections of visual differences and similarities in the area of housing / living and make them accessible to a wide world public. Planned are publications of the respective countries and places, as well as lectures and exhibitions worldwide to sensitize people for the topic.

By simply presenting photographs and animations BLOCKS PROJECT should entertain some questions: Is it in the long term possible that human settlements gain a more individual and personal touch and can also be reached a diversity by strict norms and regulations? (How) Is this mostly desirable in society? How do the pictures show Block facades tensions between private and shared space in these settlements? How does this express the uniqueness of life in socialist / communist society forms? What social similarities / connections but also differences are recognized by these large number of photographs?