Session at the European Architectural History Network Sixth International Meeting

During the period of state socialism, two elements were essential to the state organisation: the abolition of the private property and the establishment of the central planning of the state, contributing greatly to the urban planning processes in socialist countries. The ambitions to create a new form and pattern of the city, with clearly designated boundaries, were embodied in the ideal socialist planning goals and helped in the formation of new cities or the substantial redevelopment patterns of existing ones. Prompting a particular relationship between design, ideology and local desires, architects embraced opportunities to design cities following often strict guidelines by the authorities.

Urban planning during the period of state socialism gave a rise to a city that was centralised, structurally uniform and based on administrative norms in which housing distribution, public services and recreational amenities were equally distributed and accessible to all. The quantity of service utilities was normatively projected upon the number of inhabitants in each neighbourhood contributing to the formation of socialist communities within the city boundaries. The city centre was the most vital part of the socialist city, providing a setting for its political, cultural and administrative functions.

This session will focus on the planning practices and the transformations of the built environment of cities during the period of state socialism, aiming to generate a comparative discussion on the theme on the basis of case-studies from around the world. This session welcomes papers that study the urban planning processes during the period of state socialism after the WWII and may include reflections on:

  • The role of the state in the planning processes in socialist countries;
  • Case studies of neighbourhoods, districts, microraions as major features of planning built during the period of state socialism and the role of the state in their design and construction;
  • Case studies of new socialist cities and towns as a showcase of the socialist theories implemented in spatial settings;
  • Critical analysis of the impact of the national ideologies and their narratives on the planning processes at local level;
  • The impact of the socialist planning decisions and practice on the urban developments and transformations until today;
  • Applicability of the socialist planning practices to contemporary planning approaches.

Jasna Mariotti, School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast
Kadri Leetmaa, Centre for Migration and Urban Studies, Department of Geography, University of Tartu

Contact : Jasna Mariotti, Email : [email protected]