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Architecture at Work: Institutional Landscapes of Socialist Design and Construction | Workshop

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Oxana Gourinovitch (RWTH Aachen University), Ksenia Litvinenko (The University of Manchester), Jenny Price (Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)


Art history Cultural studies History


History of architecture


The workshop will feature papers by architectural historians, curators and practitioners discussing institutional histories of architectural work in various state socialist contexts. Registration for online and in-person participation is now open.

Architecture at Work: Institutional Landscapes of Socialist Design and Construction

The last decade saw a rapid influx of histories on architectural production and urban development in the post-WWII state socialist world. Researchers have documented how city planning and mass housing programmes in individual countries helped to forge diverse and often competing projects of socialist modernity. Others expanded their scope beyond Eastern Europe and argued, within the broader geopolitical contexts of the Cold War and decolonisation, that mobilities of architectural expertise, technology, and resources mediated the expansion of the state socialist interests in the Global South. Meanwhile, one crucial area remains largely under-researched: the organisation and management of architectural production and labour within and across the socialist world.

The workshop invites an international team of architectural historians, curators and practitioners to address this gap. Among other themes, the papers will focus on the diverse institutional structures, hierarchies and networks underpinning international and inter-regional knowledge transfers, design, construction, heritage preservation and destruction, as well as relationships between architectural workers and power brokers in and between the state socialist countries in Central/Eastern/Southeastern Europe and Asia. Modes of architectural production beyond or subversive to the established hierarchies or in liminal spaces of official institutional landscapes are also of particular interest.

For online or in-person participation, please, register here by the 7th of September 2022:

The Zoom link will be sent to online participants one week before the start of the event.


DAY 1: Wednesday 14 September 2022

17.00-17.15 Registration

17.15-17.45 Welcome and Introduction

18.00-19.30 Keynote Lecture by Vladimir Paperny “How I Was a Designer”

DAY 2: Thursday 15 September 2022

09.00-09.15 Introduction and Day Overview

09.15-11.15 Morning Parallel Sessions

Session I Knowledge Exchanges09.15-09.30 Christina E. Crawford & Claire ZimmermanDetroit-Moscow-Detroit: Exploring the Prehistory of Socialist Architectural Exchange09.30-09.45 Yichi ZhangForming the Lingnan Architectural School: Adopting German Modernism in Socialist China09.45-10.00 Yan Geng“Silk Curtain” A Journey of German Architects to China in 195710.00-10.15 Michael BrinleySoviet Icons: Materiality, Expert Knowledge, and the Social Pact in Soviet City Planning Documents in the 1960-70s10.15-11.15 Q&A and DiscussionSession Chair: Ksenia Litvinenko

Session II Spaces of Interaction09.15-09.30 Aliaksandr ShubaThe Working Group “History of Town Planning and Constructing in Historical Cities” and the Alfred Toepfer Foundation with its Herder Prize as the Triggers of Architectural Contacts between the West and East09.30-09.45 Anna KatsDesign Professionals Across Three Worlds: Union Internationale des Architectes and Socialist Architects’ Unions, 1948‐198109.45-10.00 Ye LiuThe Tropical Odyssey: Chinese Socialist Building System in Tension10.00-10.15 Boris ChukhovichMade-in-Moscow-National-Style: How institutional struggles shaped the “oriental modernism” of Tashkent in the 1960s and 1980s10.15-11.15 Q&A and DiscussionSession Chair: Kirsten Angermann

11.15-13.00 Lunch Break

13.00-15.00 Afternoon Parallel Sessions

Session III Institutional Histories13.00-13.15 Stefanie Brünenberg & Sophie StackmannArchitects at Work: Processes of work and negotiation within and outside of architecture collectives in the GDR13.15-13.30 Nini PalavandishviliThe paradox of success, the story of a building. Former Administrative Building of the Ministry of Automobile Roads of Georgia, 1975. Currently Bank of Georgia Headquarters.13.30-13.45 Ljudmila Djukic Institutional Fabric of Socialist Urban Planning and Construction in Serbia and Former Yugoslavia13.45-14.00 Lucia Mlynčeková Evolution and transformation of state projection and construction companies14.00-15.00 Q&A and DiscussionSession Chair: Liliana Iuga

Session IV Experiment and Innovation13.00-13.15 Nikolai Erofeev Manufacturing khrushchevki: reconstructing experimental design practices13.15-13.30 Frida PashakoManifesto of Albanian socialist architecture: a building and an apartment13.30-13.45 Jannik NoeskeFrom Plans to Networks? Information Technology in GDR Urban Planning13.45-14.00 Daria BocharnikovaInstitutions of Socialist Modern: Organising Housing Research and Experimental Design in the Soviet Union14.00-15.00 Q&A and DiscussionSession Chair: Ksenia Litvinenko

DAY 3: Friday 16 September 2022

09.00-09.15 Introduction and Day Overview

09.15-11.15 Morning Parallel Sessions

Session V DIY and Cooperatives9.15-9.30 Jérôme BazinSelf-made buildings in the socialist institutional landscape9.30-9.45 Matas ŠiupšinskasSubstitute for a summer house. Collective garden house architecture in Soviet Lithuania9.45-10.00 Marija DrėmaiteCo-operative Housing as a Field of Semi-private Architectural Experimentation in Lithuania, 1960s–1980s10.00-10.15 Antje KirschThe cooperative “Kunst am Bau” and the synthesis of architecture and visual art10.15-11.15 Q&A and DiscussionSession Chair: Jenny Price

Session VI Heritage Preservation and Destruction9.15-9.30 Rugile RozeneTo Demolish in Order to Construct. Soviet Urban Plans and Their Implementation in Historic Settlements9.30-9.45 Helka DzsacsovszkiThe Third ICOMOS General Assembly in Budapest9.45-10.00 Liliana IugaClaiming a Place for Heritage: Institutional (Re-) Organisations of the Department for Historical Monuments in Socialist Romania10.00-10.15 Nadezhda Beliakova & Vera KliuevaGrassroots initiatives for the preservation of cultural heritage in the late USSR: a case of student restoration teams10.15-11.15 Q&A and DiscussionSession Chair: Carola Neugebauer

11.15-13.00 Lunch Break

13.00-15.00 Afternoon Parallel Sessions

Session VII Centres and Peripheries13.00-13.15 Zayra Badillo CastroThe Uzbek Ideological Project of the 1960s and the Tashkent Institute of Experimental Design13.15-13.30 Zhenya MolyarExperimental ceramic laboratory of Nina Fedorova: rethinking Ukrainian folk art for Soviet architecture13.30-13.45 Benjamin EckelThe Path of a female Architect in the GDR - In Conversation with Sigrid Schaller13.45-14.00 Katya RuskevichRepublican Artistic Funds as a regulating body for the public art production14.00-15.00 Q&A and DiscussionSession Chair: Oxana Gourinovitch

Session VIII Self-management and Participation13.00-13.15 Lea NienhoffWelding oil tanks, building the future pulse of the city: A short history of the Workers’ politics in constructing Schwedt/Oder13.15-13.30 Tamara Bjažić KlarinConstructing self-managing socialism – the case of the Zagreb-based company “Tempo “13.30-13.45 Constanze KummerVariable housing: A participatory planning approach to prefabricated housing in the GDR13.45-14.45 Q&A and DiscussionSession Chair: Aliaksandr Shuba

15.00-16.00 Concluding Remarks

17.00-18.30 Keynote Lecture by Alla Vronskaya“Towards a Gender Anthropology of Architectural Work”

18.30 End of Workshop

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