The Architecture of Deregulations: Postmodernism, Politics and the Built Environment in Europe, 1975–1995

Contextualising architectural discourse, aesthetic ideals and executed projects within specific national frameworks and cultural situations, the conference revisits the relation between architecture and ideology viewed through the lens of a situated postmodernism.

If modernism in European architecture is associated with a socialist agenda and the implementation of the welfare state, shaped by architects in close proximity to politicians, the role and identity of postmodernism as a socio-political phenomenon appears far more uncertain. How does the heterogeneous flux of critiques and affirmations known as postmodernism in architecture relate to a broader political sphere and to new social ideals that emerge after the post-war years? How does architecture respond to the extensive transformations in politics and economics that many European countries undergo in the latter half of the 20th century, marked by the gradual dismantling of the welfare state and the subsequent ‘triumph’ of liberalism and global capitalism?

By adopting ‘deregulations’ as a banner heading for these multi-scalar, geographically varied, yet interconnected processes – spanning from public management, jurisdiction to market conditions – the matter of architecture’s role vis-à-vis incremental social change rises to the fore, again. Does architecture merely respond to or materialise changing conditions in matters like jurisdiction, industry, public management, planning procedures or housing politics, or does it also somehow contribute to, transmit and provoke the production of sensibilities that make these transformations possible?

The hypothesis underpinning this conference is that postmodern architecture – much like functionalism/modernism that went before – holds a reciprocal relationship to society; that it, precisely as ‘style’, has the capacity to enforce, generate and perhaps even forebode that change of sensibilities known as an ideological shift.


Thursday 10 March

  • KTH School of Architecture Room: A108 Osquars backe 5, Stockholm

13.00: Welcome address and introduction by conference organisers Catharina Gabrielsson and Helena Mattsson

13.30: Session 1 – Ambiguous urban projects

  • “Milton Keynes’ Centre: the Apotheosis of the British Post-War Consensus or, the Apostle of Neoliberalism?” — Janina Gosseye
  • “Euralille: a New Urbanism in the Age of Neoliberalism” — Valéry Didelon
  • “The Hybridity of Housing Politics: Production and Reproduction of a Norwegian Satellite Town” — Guttorm Ruud

15.00: Break

15.15: Session 2 – Ideals in urban planning

  • “Playing the Green Card: The Futuring Function of a Disengaged Jardin-Fôret” — Maria Hellström Reimer
  • “Postmodernism Revisited: The European Quarter, Brussels” — Kris Scheerlinck & Adrià Carbonell
  • “The Long Nineties: Reassessing the Project of ‘A Complex Order’” — Helen Runting

16.45: Coffee break

17.00: Session 3 – State, bureaucracy and New Public Management

  • “Deregulation’s Double: Fire Safety Engineering and the Reconstruction of Architectural Practice” — Liam Ross
  • “The Profitable State: Marketization of Public Premise Provision in Sweden” — Erik Sigge
  • “Toward a Pessimist Utopia” — Salomon Frausto

18.30: Break

19.00: “Immediate Affect: Architecture, Neoliberalism and the Patterning of Experience”

  • Douglas Spencer, Dr Douglas Spencer is a writer and teaches architectural history and theory at the Architectural Association, The Royal College of Art and the University of East London.
  • Response by Hélène Frichot, Associate Professor in Critical Studies and Gender Theory at KTH School of Architectur

20.30: Dinner with delegates

Friday 11 March

  • Moderna Museet Biografen, Plan 2, Skeppsholmen, Stockholm

10.00: Moderna Museet opens. Coffee.

10.15: Welcome address by Anna Tellgren, Curator and Research leader, Moderna Museet

10.30: “From Norm to Form: Rethinking Welfare State Housing” — Helena Mattsson, Associate Professor in History and Theory of Architecture at KTH School of Architecture

11.00: “The Architecture of Postmodern Legal Aesthetics” — Timothy Hyde, Clarence H. Blackall Associate Professor in Architectural History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technolog

12.00: Lunch

13.00: “‘Functionalism, modernism, mannerism, neo-neo-classicism, postmodernism, rationalism, postmodern classicism… ’: Resistance or Assimilation through the Lens of ‘Style’ in Swedish Architectural Discourse” — Catharina Gabrielsson, Assistant Professor in Urban Studies at KTH, School of Architecture

13.30: “An Archeology of Neoliberal Housing in France” — Anne Kockelkorn, architectural historian and urban researcher, Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich

14.30: Coffee break

14.45:“Whatever Happened to Postmodernism?” — Lea-Catherine Szacka, Associate Professor at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design

15.15: “Condemned to Stardom” — Penelope Dean, Associate Professor at School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago

15.45: Break

16.00: “If Spatialising Capital is the Answer, What is the Question?” — Jeremy Till, Professor of Architecture, head of Central Saint Martins / Response by Sven-Olov Wallenstein, Professor of Philosophy, Södertörn University

18.00: Opening of the exhibition “Object and Bodies at Rest and in Motion” at floor 4 Moderna Museet

20.30: Dinner with delegates

Saturday 12 March

  • KTH School of Architecture , Room: A108,  Osquars backe 5, Stockholm

09.30: Session 4 – Architectural discourse and ideology

  • “The End of Planning and the Political Aporia of the Architectural City” — Adrià Carbonell & Roi Salgueiro Barrio
  • “Anonymous Concrete Monsters c. 1990” — Maros Krivy
  • “1976: Crisis and Compromise in the Welfare State. Swedish Architectural Debate in the Mid 1970s” — Christina Pech

11.00: Break

11.15: Session 5 - Capital, industry and finance

  • “Euroc House: The Architecture of Management and Speculation” — Matthew Ashton
  • “Reconceptualising Risk: Deregulation and the Design of the Lloyd’s of London HQ, 1978–1986” — Amy Thomas
  • “Toward the Contextual Plattenbau: Postmodern Exchanges in Architectural Design and Production Between Finland and the GDR in the 1980s” — Torsten Lan

12.45: Lunch

13.45: Session 6 – Architecture, national identity and politics

  • “On the Other Side of the Wall: Discussions on Postmodernism in the Late GDR” — Kirsten Angermann
  • “Two Sides of the Same Coin: Liberty and Liberalization in Portuguese Post‐Revolutionary Architecture. The Lisbon School towards European Integration: 1976–1986” — Leonor Matos Silva
  • “Bursting the Big Bubble: Architecture and Politics in Italy, 1976–1992” — Silvia Micheli & Lea-Catherine Szacka

16.15: Break

16.30: Session 7 – Neoliberal contradictions – populism, critique and assimilation

  • “There is Nothing Here for Us” — Tor Lindstrand & Håkan Nilsson
  • “Participation, Postmodernism, and Architectural Populism” — Alexandros Vazakas
  • “Mafia and the City” — Alessandro B & Davide B

18.00: Break

18.15: “An Architectural History of Neoliberalism” — Kenny Cupers, Associate Professor in the History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Basel

  • Response by Jennifer Mack, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University, researcher at the KTH School of Architecture 

19.15: Summary and closing remarks