We have an image of the Soviet city as an unremittingly dull, social wasteland of stained concrete and cheerless vistas but this is further from reality than you might imagine, certainly in Central Asia. For a start they often have far more trees than many European capitals and once the green of spring has arrived they do a lot to mask those architectural sins that do exist. The West was hardly short on post-war, faceless concrete monstrosities, so it would be unfair to be exceptionally critical of much of the less desirable property you do find. Often it is the neglect of the building’s exteriors which lets down an otherwise reasonable attempt at adding a hint of flair to the design of public housing. How often have you seen a tower block from 1960’s Britain that exhibits more than the bare minimum of effort in sprucing up the design? What does most to demolish this stereotype are the huge mosaic murals found on many buildings in every large city. Some, of course are Soviet Realist tributes to the proud proletariat but no less colourful for it and many are cultural images linked to the region’s history and myths.