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Online database chronicles forgotten 20th-century buildings and monuments

Nonument documents the monuments, buildings, and infrastructure lost to time

Cluster of stone head monuments on grass.
The Stone Bouquet or “Four Heads” monument in Topola, Serbia.
Vladimir Dulović / MAPS

Architecture is rooted in time. It tells a story about the moment in which it was built—and then, sometimes, it falls out of favor and is forgotten altogether.

Nonument is a new database of 20th-century monuments, buildings, plazas, and infrastructure that, in its words, “no longer suit the idea of what public space is about today.”

Created by Neja Tomšič and Martin Bricelj Baraga, in partnership with the Mapping & Archiving Public Spaces project, Nonument plans to document more than 120 of these sites, including the Stone Bouquet Monument to People’s Heroes of Topola in Topola, Serbia, a nuclear power plant in Zwentendorf, Austria, and the Mladinska Knjiga Printing House in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Defunct nuclear power plant
Nuclear power plant in Zwentendorf, Austria.
Emma Braun / MAPS

The database is an ode to places that have been left behind due to changing political tides, technological changes, or decay. Every entry is accompanied by an essay that serves as a history lesson, outlining the story of why it was constructed and what’s happened to it since. Most include audio interviews, photos, and a handy timeline that contrasts the site’s history with its present.

Gray, boxing building
The former Mladinska Knjiga printing house.
Danica Sretenović / MAPS

The site is a goldmine of information for anyone interested in how political and industrial forces shape architectural interest. But it goes well beyond a history lesson. The organizers are also breathing new life into highlighted works with artistic events and performances as well as by pushing for preservation protections on many of the sites. You can dive deep into the Nonuments here.