Our latest page 23 is from The Modernist, a magazine that ignores the convention of numbered pages. We overlooked this quirk, since even if not numbered, there still is, of course, a 23rd page. And as this is the 23rd issue of the pocket-sized Mancunian guide to 20th century design, it seemed too good a chance to double up on the ‘23’ quotient.
The issue focuses on several of the big beasts of modernist architecture, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. But counting 23 pages into the issue, we find ourselves in the middle of a photographic survey of anonymous Soviet tower blocks. In his accompanying text, Denis Esakov notes how these huge symbols of once dominant Soviet dogma have become meaningless grey boxes on the horizon. ‘Things that used to be grand are being made insignificant, conceptually dead…’
It’s hard not to compare these towers to images of the burnt-out shell of London’s Grenfell Tower, our local reminder of the challenge presented by maintaining and updating the modernist dream.