Bring Eastern Bloc Architecture Home With These Paper Building Blocks

With Blokoshka, Polish design studio Zupagrafika recreates the monolithic concrete estates of post-war Eastern Europe–in miniature.

Soviet-era design is still alive and well in the popular imagination–evidenced by the multitude of projects devoted to it, from museum exhibitions and countless photo essays to postcards of decaying buildings. Now, you can create your own with Blokoshka, a collection of papercraft models that recreate the concrete estates of former Eastern Bloc countries.


Created by the Polish design studio Zupagrafika–the designers behind the Brutal London models Co.Design wrote about last year–the new collection includes four models that represent the post-war housing complexes of Moscow, East Berlin, Warsaw and Prague. The pre-folded, pre-cut paper models–which fit inside each other like nesting dolls–draw inspiration from the prefabricated construction systems that were used to quickly build entire districts in these cities after the the destruction of WWII. These “housing factories,” as they were called, had a heyday that stretched from the 1950s to the 1980s, when they became “tangible reflections of the pre-war modernist ideas of open urban spaces, minimalist design and social egalitarianism,” the designers say.

As the Blokoshka models show, these concrete estates looked strikingly similar across all former Eastern Bloc countries. Monolithic industrial apartment complexes were replicated to fill up “sleeping districts” in the Moscow suburbs. In Berlin, the Communist tower blocks are called plattenbau, and they rise high over the city’s otherwise flat urban landscape. Similarly, Warsaw estates were built atop the ruins of the city’s old ghetto, and the sprawling “panelák” blocks in Prague were constructed to make up for the post-war housing shortage.

These days, the buildings remain a towering, highly visible reminder of the Communist era–some lay in decay, while others are being renovated into stylish family homes. And now, thanks to Zupagraphika, miniature versions made from recycled cardboard can also be constructed in your living room.

Buy the set of four for €10 (around $11) on Zupagraphika’s website.

About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.