Photo: Ľubo Stacho Postproduction Postprodukcia: Monika Stacho

The Trade Union House / Istropolis: The Birth and Liquidation of an Innovative Generator of Social Life, Culture, and Education

Bratislava’s former Trade Union House [Dom odborov], renamed after 1989 Istropolis, is the largest cultural and social complex in Slovakia. During the past two years, it has been at the centre of unexpected public attention. The reason for this interest lay in the circumstances surrounding its change in ownership, reduction of use, followed by the entire closure of the object and an eventual announcement of its demolition and replacement with new construction. Between 2019 and 2021, the situation set in motion a series of activities hoping to prevent the liquidation of this architectural work and – unusually – brought together the professional academic sphere with engaged members of the public. The present study presents the history of the creation of this noteworthy architectural complex, drawing attention to its innovative urbanistic, typological, and construction solutions. Additionally, it draws attention to the problems facing the evaluation and protection of architectural heritage from the second half of the 20th century. As the authors of the text were active not only in the research but also took a significant public role in defending this architectural achievement, the study also has the ambition of contributing to the discussion on perspectives of engaged research in the fields of the historiography and theory of architecture.


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