During a recent stay in one of the former Soviet countries, I wandered for days on end through suburbs with endless concrete flats. Prefabricated residential barracks that were once built at breakneck speed, straight from the factory. Here, for decades, people could only survive by self-censorship. After all, you never knew what you could safely share with neighbours, family and friends.
The people around the buildings are often no more than extras. All attention goes to the places, the structures. They define the atmosphere and the space they leave for the people who come and go.
Is the imposed silence still palpable, generations later? I look for traces of this time and the effect the built environment can have on people. The closed nature of the buildings reveals something of how it was and perhaps still is.