International Symposium, University of Stuttgart
Shortly after WW II George Orwell criticized the complete change of world order after the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and spoke of a cold war between the USA and the Soviet Union. Since then a vast majority of historical accounts considers the year 1945 the most important break, which is of course also true for post-war-architectural history. Nonetheless, its political interests in planning and in (re-) building was rather on local and symbolic towns and projects, such as Berlin and Vienna, or on outstanding iconic cases.
Three major fields of research are on dialogue at this international symposium:
First, the writing of architectural history and its dominant, competing and developing narratives from 1948 (two German states) until 1975 (Helsinki OSCE contract) or 1989/90 with the end of GDR. Questions about diverse and sometimes programmatic reinterpretations of early modern architecture arise in this area.
Second, the built environment effected by military and economic block-confrontations on all levels of civil engineering and architecture, be they symbolic and well known in their own time or hidden infrastructures.
Third, consequently we are interested in a critical and methodological development of alternative perspectives or meta-narratives for an architectural history of the past decades. How can we negotiate shifts such as decolonisation (global south), possible conflicts between globalisation and regionalism, modernist architecture in times of climate change?
Concerning No. 1: Many books after 1945 present the International Style of 1932 in a way specific to either western (NATO), or eastern architecture (Warsaw-Pact). How did both sides propagate their seemingly proper architecture as progressive, social and politically informed? What narratives did euro-communist or socialist countries develop?
Concerning No. 2: The Berlin wall is, albeit wrong denomination of material, the outstanding symbolic structure of the iron curtain and synonym of the cold war. Concrete is epoch’s cold material number one (Forty 2017). How can we reconsider projects of reconstruction and post-war-infrastructures such as Airports, channels and motorways (i.e.) in regard of either war-exigencies or expressions of new political ideals? How do new cybernetic criteria in the atomic age change planning- and design-principles and its public understanding? Have independent states been looking for autonomous directions or shared one of the models for a while? Did buildings sustain and symbolise overall societal or economic goals? What is the status of a “programmatic unknown” (Kultermann 1985) in architecture, in its history or communications?
Concerning No. 3: Do post-war-historiographies offer any points of linkage or epistemes for current methodological approaches, or even provocations, such as “learning from Lagos” (Rem Koolhaas)? What sorts of critical reflection on habitat and ways of living are preconceived and relevant in our days of climate change? Here we would welcome a critical advancement of research beyond “progress” or “influence”: perspectives opened by decolonisation (global south etc.), which relations between globalisation and regionalism are worth reconsideration? If West and East exported ideologically burdened architectural concepts to so-called developing countries, did they eventually later have an echo in countries of origin?
This symposium takes place in the process of archiving and investigating the heritage of Jürgen Joedicke, founding director of the Institute for the History and Theory of Modern Architecture in 1968, which is since 2018 part of the Archive of the University of Stuttgart (SN 84). He was a critique of Modern Architecture since the late 1950s and his “History of Modern Architecture” of 1958 gained international success, forming a developmental understanding.
coldWARchitecture invites theorists and historians of architecture, architects and researchers from related fields. Furthermore, we want to welcome established specialists along with young scholars from different countries and backgrounds. For the sake of lively discussions, the contributions should be no longer than 30 minutes, either English or German. Passive knowledge of German is required, though.