“An Apartment with all Conveniences” was no Panacea

Mass housing and the Alternatives in the Soviet Period in Tallinn

The story of Soviet mass housing is generally well known – including Khrushchev’s enthusiasm for the establishment of industrial building practices in the second half of the 1950s, the striking contrast between the prefabricated housing developments and earlier academic Stalinist buildings, and the uniformity of the built environment in the entire Eastern bloc from the 1970s onward due to the mass construction of identical prefab residential districts. The idea of building a large number of identical apartments according to standardised designs had already been the aim during the Stalinist period, but due to a lower level of mechanised building practices they never managed to achieve this, and it was during the years that followed that a vast number of apartments were built using industrial methods. Four-fifths of Estonia’s current housing was built in the period 1961 – 1990. As elsewhere in the Eastern bloc, the prefab dormitory suburbs in Estonia have an incomplete infrastructure and are disproportionately large for the cities to which they are attached. Despite the universality of mass housing as an instrument in the process of modernisation and the inflexibility of the political system in the Eastern bloc and the state-run command economies, a range of different practices are nonetheless encountered. Even though the buildings with their room-sized panels constructed using the Camus technology, purchased from France at the end of the 1950s, are all very similar – from the buildings next to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to those in Vladivostok on the Korean border – they were applied in quite different economic circumstances and differing cultural contexts. Hence, the reception given to mass housing, its meaning, as well as the subsequent critique and search for alternatives varies from one country to the next. Mass housing construction as a colonisation tool Adrian Forty wrote that in Britain the construction of mass housing in the post-war period always had the connotation of being left-wing and subsidised, and one would assume that in the Eastern bloc mass housing, because of its totality, was viewed as something neutral – a symbol of progress that improved living conditions for every member of society….

Planning of Standardized Housing Types in Hungary in 1948 – 1960

A special area of post-1945 mass housing was the type-planning of homes, especially in socialist countries where the compulsory use of standardized projects was implemented to simplify the production of new housing within the centrally planned economy. The changes in the floor plans of Hungarian standardized housing closely reflect the alterations of the domestic political background, for in Hungary at that time the client who ordered housing construction was exclusively the state, hence the compulsions arising from the changing preferences of politics massively influenced the architectural solutions as well. The type-plans of the flats also have great relevance for architectural history, sociology, and the research of living styles, as the construction of tens of thousands of flats in housing estates was based on these type-plans. More recent architectural research literature usually touches on the layout, the style of buildings, the approximate size of flats and the number of rooms, but actual floor plans are rarely published. Understandably, too, because in that time publications flat sizes or floor plans were rarely issued, as such would have undermined the image propagated of comfortable housing-estate flats. The accurate description of housing estates and the documentation of buildings is, however, impossible without a knowledge of the floor plans, which is also a great help to revitalization. In addition, the architecture historical research of housing estates, the uncovering of existing values may help the tenants realize their assets and strengthen their personal ties to their habitat. The beginnings of post-war reconstruction with individual plans When the war was over, it was obvious in Hungary as well that only mass housing could make up for the extremely large amount of buildings destroyed. The task was regarded by the architectural profession as the possibility of creating modern urban housing, a major goal of the Hungarian group of CIAM earlier as well. In their publications and architectural competitions, there was a conscious search for new layouts, floor plans. The Building Rationalization Department of the Government Commission for Housing set up by the coalition government and the Building Department of the Budapest Municipal Board of Public Works began to create new building types and prepare standard model plans in 1946 based on the modernist principles of housing prevalent in the 1940s. In addition to theoretical planning, the construction of new housing also began. 

From ‘Grand Ensemble’ to Architectural Heritage, from Concentration Camp to Memorial

The mass housing project of the Cité de la Muette in Drancy, near Paris

This article deals with the pre-war Cité de la Muette at Drancy, in the suburbs of Paris, as one of the key harbingers leading to the international post-war phenomenon of mass social housing. It constitutes a reflection on the clash between modern architecture and the responsibilities of history. In several respects, the project of Drancy is emblematic of the heritage of the Modern Movement, demonstrating that mass housing contained, even in its early experiences and development before the Second World War, the seeds of many of the main problems that characterise the post-war period. The historical period from the end of the 1930s until today will be discussed through a number of urgent questions regarding the phenomenon of the “grand ensemble” (the French term for “mass housing development”). After Drancy, architecture should have lost all utopian illusions regarding the ability to improve people’s lives simply by organising space, an ideal the architects must have held when they designed the housing project of La Muette, which was then considered to be a “model town planning operation in the Paris region, conceived by two functionalist architects yearning for modernity”. Building a New Society At the time of construction of La Muette, Eugène Beaudouin and Marcel Lods were achieving rapidly rising fame as modernist architects for their technically bold and socially progressive schemes. At the time when they designed the Cité de la Muette at Drancy, they had built, among other projects, the Cité du Champ-des-Oiseaux at Bagneux, in addition to other large-scale housing schemes. By the time of their separation at the beginning of the Second World War, their achievements included their entry for the competition for a new major exhibition hall organised by the OTUA to promote the use of steel; the open air school at Suresnes; the Festival of Light for the International Decorative Arts Exhibition in 1937; the clubhouse of the Roland Garros aerodrome at Buc; the House of the People at Clichy, and many others. The housing project of La Muette at Drancy is considered to be the first “grand ensemble” in France. The commission was awarded by Henri Sellier, one of the most important socialistpoliticians of his time in France, senator of the Seine départment and minister under Léon Blum; who initiated an important series of garden cities in the suburbs of Paris….

Unitas and Nová Doba: A (Forgotten) Contribution to Politically Engaged Theories of Housing

The present study analyses the circumstances of the construction, and the urban, architectural and structural qualities of the Bratislava residential colonies of Unitas and N ová doba, two of the most important works of ‘left-wing architectural Functionalism’ in Slovakia. In addition, it aims to present the social situation in the era along with the professional and personal orientation of the architect, Friedrich Weinwurm, which underlay the creation and the final appearance of both building ensembles. Attention will be paid to the contemporary reflection of these two construction efforts, as well as their later reception by the general public. At the same time, it is hoped that an explanation will be found as to why, in the context of interwar Czechoslovakia, it is possible to view the contribution by Friedrich Weinwurm to the theme of housing for the poor as an exceptional instance of ‘politically engaged architecture’.“Costs of approx. 25,000,000 crowns, every day around 500 – 600 men at work, wages of around 8,000,000 crowns and completion within 7.5 months of working time“. Such was the summary of the course of construction of the Bratislava residential complex Unitas, in the article published in the magazine Nová Bratislava (New Bratislava), immediately after its completion in the spring of 1931. Yet with this laconic summary, the authors also noted the key factors in the construction: the speed of completion, the low price, and the jobs made available for workingclass applicants. Along with the austere listing of facts, characteristic of the entire presentation of the project, there was nonetheless an extensive text by the architect himself, Friedrich Weinwurm, offering an essential argumentation on behalf of the project based on universal humanistic values. In it we may read that the shortening of construction time, the implementation of prefabrication or even the increasing height of the buildings “is today a matter of course, since it makes it no longer necessary to address any of the technical problems”. Now, in Weinwurm’s view, attention could be concentrated “only on the human individual and his society, his way of living, working and being”. The path to fulfilling a happy human fate lay, according to the architect, in the rational comprehension of facts, in planning and efficient organisation. In addition, he added, a decisive role was played by the “planned organisation of manufacturing and consumption” and “standardised mass production” that would allow its products to become generally available….

Importance of the Right-Angled Triplet Geometry for the Theory of Proportion in Architecture: The Golden Ratio and its Applications

The settled life-style in the first centres of civilisation had to satisfy new needs for safe and functional structures regarding town plans, as well as dwelling organisation within restricted a fortified. The street network logically influenced the rectangular plans of houses and monumental buildings like temples, ziggurats and pyramids. Similarly, the water supply and sewage networks with bathing pools, like in Mohenjo-daro in the Indus River valley, document such tendencies. The hygienic and cultural needs in crowded trade and capital centres required by noblemen, priests, working and trading parties were successfully met in rectangular urban schemes culminating in the Roman camp plans or in Greek and Roman atrium houses as recommended by Vitruvius. However, the orientation of streets and buildings toward cardinal points and their surveying set was dependent on the knowledge of right-angled triangles in Sumer and Egypt, e.g. with sides in ratio 3 : 4 : 5 etc. The aesthetic preference evolving towards the golden ratio or section combined the search for the abscissa division with the rectangular shape determined by diagonals, as well as intersecting triangles. Consequently, such a search for the most pleasing images was finalised by the socalled Kepler triangle as well as by the Pacioli & da Vinci scheme of human measures and in modern times through Corbusier’s Modulor. These dimensional proportions were tested later in psychophysical experiments by Fechner, who provided serious psychological proofs of the human preference for the golden section as the relatively most pleasing choice from different rectangular shapes. Unfortunately, current research into the evaluation of architectural proportions, making use of recent real compositions grounded in the methods and abstract tests of architectural psychophysics is still lacking. Thus it is highly worthwhile to initiate investigations and measurement methods evaluating the visual sensations and perceptions of architectural forms and proportions under various daylight conditions and as well as night-time illumination….

A Subtle Rendition of Stylistic Variations. Family Mausoleums in the Work of Michal Milan Harminc

The Kuffner family mausoleum in Sládkovičovo (1926) and the mausoleum in the village of Pomáz near Budapest (1912) are the only realized sepulchral structures from the exceptionally extensive work of M. M. Harminc. Despite their subtle character, they reflect the diversity of their creator’s typological range and stylistic adaptability, in an interesting manner complementing his historicizing motifs which, joined with mondernist elements, lingered well into the 20th century. Present in the background of their creation were several interesting personages, attesting the architect’s connection with prominent patrons, mainly successful businessmen; the cast of characters spans first period of Harminc’s work – the Budapest period, along with pro-Slovak oriented members of the intelligentsia and business circles, as well as patrons of Serbian origin. Information about the two mentioned typologically unique structures of Harminc’s is currently sparse. The on-going research of Harminc’s legacy in the Slovak National Gallery, however, has delivered interesting knowledge based on the yet-unpublished drawings pertaining to these structures. The family mauseoleum in Pomáz dates back to 1912. Chronologically, it can be categorized in the context of works from the Budapest period which falls between 1887 and 1916. The existing scholarly literature does not fully appreciate Harminc’s Budapest period, yet a look into this period’s work portfolio offers a typologically extensive collection of structures of high architectonic quality, especially rich in stylistic variations of historical architectural styles. Predominant are sacral structures, representative buildings of banks and financial institutions, residential architecture – town palaces, villas, apartment buildings, as well as industrial complexes (tanneries), health facilities, museums, schools and sometimes also works of a sepulchral character, which are the current subject of interest. This period’s key realizations in Slovakia include the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Prybilina (1901 – 1902), the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Černová (1905 – 1907), the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Prietrž (1906 – 1907), the Stodola villa in Liptovský Mikuláš (1902 – 1903), two realizations in the town of Martin – the first Slovak National Museum (1906 – 1908) and Tatra banka (1910 – 1911), and a series of realisations for banking institutions with exclusively Slovak capital – the Slovenská banka (Slovak Bank) in Ružomberok (1901 – 1902) and in Trstená (1903), the Ľudová banka (People’s Bank) in Nové Mesto….

Behrens under the Surface. Restoration Survey of the Neolog Synagogue in Žilina

In the entire architectural history of Slovakia, itis possible to find only a few works by architects of such international reputation as Peter Behrens. His Neolog Synagogue in Žilina is viewed by historians, preservationists and even the public at large primarily through the prism of the architect’s personal fame. Nonetheless, the present synagogue is not only the work of a single genius: for the over 80 years of its existence the structural core of Behrens’s synagogue has been over-layered and transformed by several rebuildings and changes of function. At present, a further layer is being added through yet another conversion of the synagogue, in this case for its new function as a ‘Kunsthalle’. Behind this project are Marek Adamov, Fedor Blaščák and Martin Jančok, who since 2011 have been preparing and directing the restoration and conversion of the building. As such, the current project of the “new synagogue” could be understood as a continuation of the development of this unique structure, by means of the layering or replacement of new functions and values upon the basic platform of the original synagogue constructed from the plans of Peter Behrens. NEW DISCOVERIES The planned conversion of this landmark necessitated a deeper investigation of its structure, which architectural historians and restorers previously had no possibility of undertaking. This research, which lasted for the past two years, uncovered a range of new insights into the architecture and history of the synagogue, even though until March 2013 the researchers had to work only with fragmentary scraps of project documentation and historical photographs – up until the discovery of the original project documentation in the Museum of the Arts in Olomouc and the acquisition of several never-published blueprints of details from the Pfalzgalerie in Kaiserslautern. Assistance in the new discovery of Behrens’s project documentation was, paradoxically, provided by information uncovered from investigation of a much earlier phase of the building’s development, above all the finding of the first project for rebuilding the synagogue, from the important inter-war Czech architect Lubomír Šlapeta, provided thanks to his son, Professor Vladimír Šlapeta….

The Jewish Autonomous Region and the Czechoslovakian Jews: Hannes Meyer Writes on Birobidzhan

With the partitions of Poland by the end of the 18th century, the Russian Empire acquired a large number of Jewish subjects territorially confined to the limits of the Pale of Settlement, an area comprising mainly the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. From that time on, both the Tsarist and Soviet regimes looked for solutions to the “Jewish question”. Tsar Alexander I (1777 – 1825) suggested for the first time in 1804 to settle Jews on the land, an idea the Soviet government would reenact years ahead as part of their program of collectivization of agriculture. By this means, the “futility” of the Jewish bourgeoisie could be transformed into a “productive, meaningful life” and their situation as an abnormal nationality could be solved. The first Soviet attempts to transform Jews into peasants during the early 1920s encountered mixed reactions. On the one hand, both the state and Jewish philanthropic organizations supported the dea of relocation, especially in the Crimea, while on the other, local peasants resented the project as intrusive and dangerous to their own interests. Mikhail Kalinin eagerly promoted the creation of Jewish agricultural colonies, which he believed were the only means to maintain the Jewish nationality. In his words: “The Jewish people faces the great task of preserving its own nationality, and to this end a large part of the Jewish population must be transformed into an economically stable, agriculturally compact group which should number at least in the hundreds of thousands. Only under such conditions can the Jewish masses hope for the future existence of their nationality.” In order to facilitate the creation of such colonies, in1924 the Communist Party established the KOMZET (Committee for the Settlement of Labouring Jews on the Land), a government commission in charge of land distribution among Jews, and its civil counterpart, the OZET (Society for Settling Labouring Jews on the Land) aimed at assisting the colonists in the logistics of settlement, including housing, training, education, provision of tools and cattle, etc. The initiative never achieved its goals; most of the Jews returned to their previous way of life in the shtetls, while others embraced Zionism instead. However, the Crimean experience opened the door to future proposals of the kind, mainly that of Birobidzhan….

The Biological Universalism of Emanuel Hruška

The present article describes the life, work and ideas of the architect, urban planner, university teacher and theorist of urban and regional planning, Emanuel Hruška. The first part deals briefly with his biography and work (pointing out some lesser-known and forgotten works of his), the next part is focused on environmentally friendly concepts and ideas in Czechoslovakian urban and regional planning (from the 1920s to the 1970s). The most important part is dedicated to Hruška‘s ecological approach that he in the 1940s entitled “biological universalism”. Although by the 1950s he had stopped using this term, he stayed true to the principle of “working with the landscape and with its biological mechanisms in mind” for his whole life. For Emanuel Hruška, the landscape implies a “living organism” that is very closely connected to humans, and in which people are an inseparable part. Landscape, in other words the sum of the natural environment and the built environment (all civilized man-made components), was perceived as a home that connects both historical-cultural as well as natural-cultural values. Hruška also realized that the natural environment is a source of resources, energy and a space for socio-economical development. On the other hand, he at the same time emphasized the relaxation and recreational aspects of the natural environment. And finally, from the ecosystem point of view, he perceived the landscape as a structured entity that is superior to man-made objects and mankind itself. Nature protection was not a point for discussion for him, because he knew that by protecting the natural environment people are protecting themselves. As a result, he believed in socialism and a fair communist future, in which the protection of the natural environment would be a matter of fact….

Architectural and Town Planning Competitions in the Sixties. Their Specific Contribution to the History of Czechoslovak Modern Architecture

Czechoslovak architecture during the “Golden Sixties” of the 20th century is interpreted by contemporary historians as a very important phase in the history of our modern architecture. In the postwar development of Czechoslovak modern architecture, this decade can even be seen as a time of very radical change – from the political isolation of the 50s to the relative openess of the 60s, from socialist realism to modernity, from neoclassic imitations to forwardlooking solutions inspired by models taken from the West. During the past decade, contemporary historians have interpreted the most remarkable buldings of this era, yet the designs from architectural and urban design competitions of the 1960s have yet be dealt with in the history of Czechoslovak modern architecture. Only the most important competitions have received some attention as part of contemporary monograph studies and newer interpretative publications. The text summarizes the results of the dissertation work which dealt with a selected part of the architectural competitions in this period, concentrating on competitions held in Bohemia and Moravia also including some events not intended for specific locations and important projects for foreign countries. The study covered all types of competitions as legislatively defined in the public notice nr. 154/1959 (Regulations of the State Committee for Construction No. 154/1959 in the Official List of the State Committee for Construction from July 14, 1959 regarding the competitive rules for competitions in conceptual project solutions) yet with a special focus on public competitions. The final criterion defining the object of the study was the publication of the winning and listed designs in professional journals, in this case primarily Architektura ČSR/ČSS (Architecture of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic) and Československý architect (Czechoslovak Architect), which throughout the 1960s devoted considerable careful attention to these competitions….

Progressive, Forward-Looking and Advanced. Hungarian Architecture and Modernity 1956 – 1962

In the immediate post-war years, modern architecture characterized the Hungarian scene: key positions of architectural practice and state construction administration were occupied by advocates of modern architecture of whom several were also active participants of the Modern movement. This trend was soon interrupted with a short but highly forceful period (ca 1950 – 1955) of the style known as Socialist Realism, a state-required traditionalism which ruled the entire field of culture. By the second part of the 1950s, modern architecture had returned, yet the new situation was radically different from the previous one, even though there had been no radical changes concerning the professional actors. The well-known cultural demand of Socialist Realism, namely that the work should be ‘socialist in content and national in form’ was still a political necessity, and the architects had to define their relationship to modern architecture within this standardised phraseology. Between 1956 and 1962, in a period of temporary political uncertainty and gestures of détente, controlled discussions were accepted, sometimes even fostered. This essay is concerned with contemporary debates on the topic of regained modern architecture on a political, professional and public level. Questions to be addressed are the following: How did Hungarian theorists and practicing architects react to the situation? Is it possible to define and eparate different trends within these approaches? And if so, how can these approaches be connected to parallel international or to earlier national trends? Nikolai Sergeyevich Khrushchev, the first secretary of the Soviet Communist Party announced the need for a change in architecture in December 1954. In his speech, he referred to modern technology as a driving force for the future development. He accused architects that they had “disengaged from the advanced economic and technical terms of development, and under the pretext of fighting against constructivism had fallen into the other extreme of formalism: they became captivated by individual and artistic exaggerations, using architectural shapes, ‘unusual decorations’ (and unusual built volumes) which made the dwellings similar to churches or museums.”….

Problematic Aspects in the Historiography of Romanian Architecture

“All [of these countries] seem to be governed by the same principle of the identity crisis, of the conflictive absorption of contradictory cultural waves, of a provincial model, low-keyed, but haunted by failure and lack of perspective. All seem to struggle between the majoritarian indifference and the elite’s schizophrenia, all seem to have something in common, but none of them knows the others, as if they were under a common curse: resonating with distant and disdainful centres instead of relating to ignored brothers.” Sorin Alexandrescu, Identitate în ruptură /1/ Architectural historians do not speak very often about how and why they write, about their narratives and the reasons behind them. This statement is especially valid for cultures like mine, where the discipline is quite young and has been exposed to frequent disturbing pressures that have left it confined within its own original contradictions and limitations. The recent colloquium Current Issues of Central and East European Architectural Historiography, held in Bratislava /2/ incited me to reflect upon our architectural historiography for at least two reasons. On the one hand, I am not the only one to believe that the CEE context is more than an administrative geography of vicinity, distinct from Western Europe. In many respects and in parallel moments, countries in this area had comparable evolutions “at the crossroad of cultures”, sharing a similar ethos, obeying analogous influences and common constraints. We can assume the existence of a common cultural dimension that underlies and joins in a peculiar manner what we restrictively and jealously call each of our “national” architectural developments. Or, as long as our researches remain enclosed within the arbitrariness of political borders, each of us separately lamenting our “provincialism”, this dimension will stay hidden and insufficiently explored. On the other hand, in Romania today, the emergence of a new generation of historians certainly marks a turning point in our historiography. I could assume that announcing these new approaches might stimulate cross-border collaborations, thus contributing to the construction of a comparative research milieu interested in gauging with proper methodological tools the cultural potential of this area. That is why I decided to skim through the Romanian experience, offering some snapshots meant to call into question certain problematic aspects of our historiographic tradition, along with some of the recent attempts to overcome them….

Reconstruction and Addition of the Slovak National Gallery Complex

The complex of the Slovak National Gallery (SNG) is the outcome of complicated developments in the city structure, in which the most valuable urban advantage is its position on the Danube embankment and in the city centre. From námestie Ľudovíta Štúra up to Riečná ulica, the entire block is a conglomeration of widely varying historic and stylistic forms. Vladimír Dedeček’s rebuilding project was completed, though in only partial form, in 1978. As a major planned entity, though realised only fragmentarily, it has created many problems in the functioning of such a complex organisation as the SNG. The form of Dedeček’s rebuilding polarised – and continues to polarise – the views of professionals and the lay public. It must be said that the “Dedeček stage” was realised at a time of crisis within the construction industry, with the result being the rapid degradation of the building. For our project, there is no ambition for yet another expressive gesture: Dedeček’s robust tectonics provide that gesticulation of visible identity. Our project intends to use the potential of open spaces and architectural volumes to implement a sensible spatial-functional outline. The primary need is the creation of the lacking connections in the direction of Hviezdoslavovo námestie, as well as ensuring openness and permeability of the parterre. A key problem in this task is the approach to the architectural level left by Vladimír Dedeček. As a result of the poor quality of the materials for realisation, one necessity is that the exterior envelopes of the walkway, administrative blocks and the former library have been re-designed, with the silhouettes of the tectonic outlines – and partially even the current colour scheme – restored. As for the walkway, its silhouette will be retained, but its exterior cladding will be different; however, its unique interior spatial characteristics will not be altered. One change will be access to the river through the bracketed masses, to create galleries/corridors with a view of the Danube through ribbon glazing. For the walkway, we plan to return to Dedeček’s originally intended colour scheme of light-bronze and silver tones. For the administrative block and the new exhibition areas, we plan to retain the original colours and materials. This difference in the colour schemes of the walkway and the other sections forms a reaction to the divergent urban context of these architectures, but also to their differing figurative qualities. The new volume is the multi-storey depository: the simple form of a non-tectonic “artwork container”….

From Military Bakery to Kulturpark: The Problematics of the Regeneration of the Former Military Warehouse Complex in Košice

South of the historic medieval core of Košice, only a few hundred meters from its edge, along ulica Rastislavova across from the Slovak Television complex that also once belonged to the same military installation, there stood a complex of military warehouses, long, empty and hidden behind a brick wall. Its massive cubic volumes created a strangely disturbing impression, hard to understand even after we discovered similar worlds in the architecture of Aldo Rossi, the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico or the poetry of Erik Groch. On a map dating from around 1885, the site of the military bakery is still indicated as only empty fields outside the city. The complex of the military bakery, and later the military rations storehouse, was built at a single stroke. Its construction and even design were the work of the “Royal and Imperial Military Engineering Command in Košice” (K. und K. Genie-Direction In Kaschau), with the support and supervision of the city authorities. Buildings and wall arose together in short order, from the issuing of the construction permit on 29 April 1893 to the final inspection of the entire complex on 13 October 1895. In 1914, the enclosure of the complex was altered from plans by the only currently identified architect involved, the locally born Gyula Wirth. Dating from the time of construction is a list of blueprints of prepared documentation: Situations plan (situation) 1 stück Hauptgebäude (main building) 7 stück Pumpenhaus (pumping station) 1 stück Bäckereigebäude (bakeries) 7 stück Mehldepot (flour storehouse) 3 stück Haferdepot (oats storehouse) 6 stück Magazingebäude (warehouses) 9 stück The contemporary story of the barracks, though, began in 2005, when the city received the area of the “Kulturpark” from the Defence Ministry, transferred free of charge as unnecessary state property. Part of the land, containing the original main building and the site of the never-built oats storehouse, was acquired by a private investor, and one building remained in the ownership of the Slovak Customs Service. In 2007, work began on preparing the project for Košice’s role as a European Capital of Culture, in which from the very beginning the revitalisation of the former “Cpt. Jaroš Barracks” was the main investment project. As is now genera knowledge, the city received the title of European City of Culture 2013 as of 8 September 2008. In parallel with the process of project preparation, as early as the summer of 2008 the City of Košice requested the Regional Heritage Office of Košice for the preparation of recommendations for declaring four of the buildings in the barracks as national cultural landmarks….

The Interior of Ještěd Mountain Hotel and Television Tower

This year will mark forty years since Ještěd Mountain Hotel and Television Tower first opened to great fanfare. A national cultural monument, built on the site of an old historical building that had burned down, the tower is a reflection of several currents in society at the time of its construction: the political thaw in Czechoslovakia, the social and cultural ferment of the ‘golden Sixties’, efforts to break away from the industrialised, quantification-centred approach that dominated in civil engineering, and the powerful determination to make a very distinctive individual mark in an era when ownership, means, and objectives were otherwise collective. The structure represents the timeless union of a unique landscape environment, a congenial impulse, and the cohesive outlook of the artists involved. Today it is a symbol of the town and the region as a whole and provides eloquent testimony of the dreams of a particular generation of architects. The fame and general popularity of the tower have made it the subject of numerous studies, but surprisingly they have overlooked its remarkable interior design, which forms an integral part of the tower’s overall physical and spiritual essence. The most familiar media image of this icon is as viewed from afar, an image that has taken precedence over the reality of experiencing a close human encounter with the architecture of the 1960s and 1970s. The experimental character of the tower, which Rostislav Švácha has described as a prime example of ‘the pragmatism of honest Czech engineering’ and Miroslav Masák as ‘high tech by a handyman’ is the product of the crucial cooperation between architect Karel Hubáček (1924 – 2011) and a group of structural and civil engineers. However, the need to create an interior ‘tailormade’ to this structure led to the involvement of two long-time colleagues, the outstanding interior designer Otakar Binar (1931 –) and furnishings designer Karel Wünsch (1932 –). Their foremost goal was to bring together two barely compatible worlds: the tower structure, a clear, coherent, and resolute gesture in tune with the magnificence of the surrounding landscape, and a hotel interior, with the smaller-scale spatial layout it required. From the outset efforts to this end were centred on two unifying ideas: One was to create an uninterrupted panorama of the surroundings and apply the popular post-war theme of the inner landscape. The fluidity of space and the strange sensation of infinity inside the tower are augmented with the use of circular corridors and apertures, and by the island-like placement of solitary furniture pieces which do not rise in height above the level of the window ledges….

The Sleeping Beauty of Functionalism? The Morava Convalescent Home in Tatranská Lomnica and the Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Kvetnica

The interwar period was an era of unprecedented building development in the area of the High Tatra mountains, at a time when the regional architecture was prepared to accept the experiments imported from the Czech architectonic scene. These avant-garde and indeed extravagant contemporary efforts have resulted in an architectonically unusual legacy of several valuable and exemplary Functionalist buildings. However, at present, most of them are in a situation where they must cope with exaggerated proportions, capacity or the consequences of experiments with building design in an earlier era. Indeed, the discussions once held on the appropriateness of the dimensions of these sometimes colossal sanatorium buildings are still a current. Nowadays, many of these valuable objects have to struggle with identical problems and share a similar fate of poor condition, danger of further decline, and a highly uncertain future. Most of them are marked, to a greater or lesser degree, by unsystematic and frequently insensitive adaptations in the course of their almost century-old existence. Even today, the situation has scarcely improved: examples of complex reconstructions are rare, while the method of modernization or adaptation with inadequate material substitutions is predominant. Because of the unsatisfactory condition of most of the Functionalistic sanatoriums, the topic of preservation, renewal and renovation of these buildings becomes especially compelling. In our contribution, we have tried to describe common features and most noticeably the problems of this building type, as well as perspectives of their future existence. These questions are illustrated through two examples of this typological unit, which are linked by their identical period of creation, similar function, location in alpine region and the same current fate. First is the well-known Functionalist landmark of the Morava Convalescent Home built in 1931 – 1933 in Tatranská Lomnica, designed by Bohuslav Fuchs and Karl Ernstberger. In the introduction, the contribution is concerned with analyses of the building’s creation, its background and questions about authorship of the project. It summarizes results of detailed research realized ten years ago and evaluates the present condition of building in conclusion. The second example is the almost unknown TBC sanatorium in the mountain spa of Kvetnica near Poprad. Shortly before creation of this modern hospital building in 1930 – 1931, the author of this project, Gustav Kulhavý, designed the sanatorium for Medical Insurance Office of Czechoslovak State Railways in thermal spa Trenčianske Teplice….

Continuation of a Planning Tradition: The Social Agenda of the ‘Functional City’

The Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) from 1928 to 1959 was an unconventional working group and a complex laboratory of progressive ideas for the design of the city. Over three decades, CIAM united architects, town planners, artists, historians, sociologists and journalists. Its writings on the ‘Functional City’ in particular were considered the core of modern urbanist theory. In 1952, almost two decades after the famous 4th congress on the ‘Functional City’ in 1933, CIAM published a book entitled The Heart of the City: Towards the Humanisation of Urban Life. As a result, not only professional planners, but also interested laypeople could hold in their hands an impressive volume whose suggestive visual language and didactic text contributions addressed the design of the city centre and of urban public spaces and illustrated vividly the new strategy for analyzing and planning a city: a focus on its social and cultural functions. This publication advocated a city space with new qualities that the urbanite would experience spontaneously, creatively, and comprehensively; a city space that would reflect the social composition and intellectual heft of the people who used it. In the collage on the book’s cover, the design for a modern city centre, the ‘heart’ metaphor, and the depiction of a human heart condense into a memorable cipher for the viewer. By defining a stable ‘urban infrastructure’ and designing ‘fixed points’ in the body of the city, the contributors intended to produce an environment that fostered communal living. This “humanized environment”, as CIAM called it, was emerging everywhere where the city was establishing the necessary preconditions. The fact that the spearhead of prewar modernism turned the centre of the city into a topic for discussion in the early 1950s has not raised many questions previously; after all, its view of the city was seamlessly integrated into the comprehensive process of renewing society after the war. In that both issues involved reconsidering fundamental connections such as “the human being and space” or “the human being and technology”, the sets of problems and answers were similar….

Slovenian Post-War Modernist Architectural Heritage as a Tourist Product

The aim of the paper is to illustrate the tourism potentials of modernist architectural heritage dating from the period of the socialist regime in Slovenia. To define the potentials of modern and postmodern architecture – not only from the aspect of its significance for architectural development, but also in terms of its future significance for economic development – we decided to examine its potentials through the use of a methodology that defines its potentials within the domainis of culture and tourism promotion. We have studied three sites (one from Velenje, one from Ljubljana, and one from Maribor), for which we assessed and addressed their development from the standpoint of their inclusion into the range of cultural and tourism offerings, aspects which have, so far, not been examined. Consequently, our goal is to identify the potentials of modernist architectural heritage for sustainable cultural tourism as a new resource working towards its reuse and redevelopment, based on the the three case studies from Slovenia. In accordance with the ATRIUM project, which is described in the next chapter, we aim to show that the regional and transregional context of cultural tourism may stimulate the development of local actions towards the promotion of modernist architectural heritage, regardless of potential political or historical connotations.
The project entitled ATRIUM – Architecture of Totalitarian Regimes of the 20th century in Urban Management, under the SEE Transnational Cooperation Programme within the EU research framework, which concluded in October 2013, was one of the opportunities that addressed the potentials of architectural heritage that was directly determined by specific political contexts. The project itself combined a wide variety of non-comparable ‘totalitarian’ contexts, and explored, among others, the many notions of modernism within this issue. Accordingly, the present article addresses the problem of modernist architecture associated with the sensitive notions of non-democratic political orders, and the difficulties that arise in connection with these extra-architectural concepts. One of the main project goals was to explore the possibilities of their opportunities for economic development, and to include this category of built heritage as a cultural tourist product within the ATRIUM Cultural Route that has been formulated as part of the project….

The Position of the Late Modern Movement in the German Cultural Heritage Act. A Comparison with the Questions in Slovakia

At the end of the 1980s, the German art historian and expert on architectural theory Norbert Huse adopted the term “Unbequeme Denkmalpflege”, best translated as “uncomfortable cultural heritage protection”. This phenomenon was a reaction to the highly lax approach of heritage institutions towards specific architectural works of the 20th century, of which a wide range of examples exists in Germany. Until today, this term can be taken to mean primarily the response of politically influenced architecture of the Nazi or the GDR regimes. As currently much in use, the term perfectly describes all arguments, discussions and emotions that occur in connection with this architecture, and is applicable as well to architecture in Slovakia. Is this kind of architecture worth preserving? If yes, what should be the criteria to evaluate it? The main aim of the discussions is to find a reasonable way to treat the architecture of the previously mentioned regimes, as well as the architecture of 60s and 70s, which is usually wrongly qualified as socialistic architecture. In Germany, a lot of buildings are in danger of being pulled down, since they do not fit with contemporary esthetic views and historical concepts still present in Germany, still aiming towards revitalization and innovation of the cities. Nonetheless, German experts are increasingly concerned about the question of to what extent should cultural heritage protection concern itself with this type of architecture? Much as in Slovakia, it is a commonplace in Germany as well that the objects of cultural heritage protection are historical monuments and buildings – the elementary condition for listing being the age of the building. Nonetheless, the status that the date of the origin of the building is not a legally binding heritage value in Slovakia, is supported by The Declaration Of the Slovak National Council on Cultural Heritage Protection No.49/2002, §2 Basic Definitions, article 1 and 2. According to this Act, every building could be possibly integrated into the system of heritage protection if it complies with at least one of the values given, which are evaluated by the experts and the Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic – without considering the age of the building as a criterion. Many deputies of responsible bodies have provided the argument that this or that building is not “old enough” to be considered as a monument….

Identity and Difference: Monitoring and Evaluation of the Most Significant Works of Modern Architecture in Slovakia

The study presents the results of two investigations that took as their goal the explanation of the contexts and causes of the different receptions granted to modern architectural heritage according to its origins in the first or the second half of the 20th century, also as a result of the similar and different material qualities of these works on their current physical condition. The first investigation was devoted to the monitoring of the physical state of selected leading works of modern architecture in Slovakia. The second formed an evaluation of these works by professionals active as architectural historians or theoreticians, or as heritage experts. The monitoring of the most important modern architectural works in Slovakia took place from May to October 2013, and with a sampling of 50 objects it was realised by employees of the Architecture department of the Institute of Construction and Architecture of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (ÚSTARCH SAV) and the Heritage Preservation Office of Slovakia. Both of these institutions monitored the selected works through field investigation, archival research, comparison of their findings with the current state, investigation of changes in ownership relations, as well as the history of rebuilding work. In recording the results of the monitoring, they made use of a specialised form created specifically for this procedure(This form was created in the program Google Form as a shared and editable document see note 13). Its introduction section included basic data about the creation of the work and its author, its status of protection by national or local authorities, as well as information of changes in ownership or use. The central part of the form was divided into 14 sections. Each section focused on a different part of the material aspect of the architectonic work (situation, construction, exterior, roof, volume, facade, open and filled spaces, interior etc.). These individual sections were constructed so as to allow for recording of the observations results inside a highly structured scheme. Simultaneously, though, they created space for a more detailed and individualised depiction of phenomena or processes, including a numerical ranking from 1 to 5, with 1 indicating the lowest and 5 the highest level of preservation. The concluding section of the form was reserved for judgment of the monitored architectural work in terms of its future perspectives. Hence the researchers had the chance not only to register and evaluate the current state of this work, but also to indicate possible threats or challenges in its future development….

Narration, Abstraction, Context

Contributions to the Interpretation of the Architecture of Contemporary Public Buildings in Hungary

In the last two decades, the reception of Hungarian architecture has mainly been aligned towards international tendencies and theoretical concepts. Critics have thought in stylistic categories, and rightly so, since the comparison to international trends and the perception of Hungarian processes seemed obvious from the concepts of interpretative point of view. However, there are several arguments in favor of using new aspects that lead far beyond style characteristics for the analysis of architectural developments of the recent past and present times. My study is an attempt to clarify and to systematize the top- ranked and the most typical architectural creations of recent years through examining the origin of their concepts. An analysis from this standpoint can result in the conclusion that often different formal or stylistic concepts belong to the conceptual scope of a typical architectural strategy with an identifiably similar approach. This finding is the most exciting development in contemporary Hungarian architecture. Thus, instead of preliminary theoretical concepts or exterior formal and stylistic features, the methodology of the architectural concept is the focus of the analysis. It takes the assumption that the tendencies of contemporary Hungarian architecture of the last decade could not be classified by their similar use of materials or by an appearance that seemed to be unified even a decade and a half ago (e.g. regionalism or the brick architecture typical at the turn of the millennium) but by the concrete, individual strategies of the architects. Nevertheless, these architect-rooted approaches clearly outline three radically different concept-creating tendencies that can be described by the concepts of narration, abstraction and context. This tripartite conceptual construction makes it easy to identify several strong examples; at the same time it also draws attention to the remarkable concepts of transition that are rich in complexity…..

Teasing Identity: Narratives of the Communist Bloc

Identity is a matter of both reflection and representation.In the first circumstance, it is assumed to draw an accurate, trustworthy portrait, while in the second it is called upon to create a meaningful, powerful image. But what kind of portrait? Should it follow the most striking features or should it dig for the intimate essence? And what kind of iconic image? A narrative or an abstract one? Identity is not a uniform concept – its multiple layers and vectors are engendered and activated by different attitudes and different motivations. Who is the creator and who is the commissioner? What is the actual role they play in designating the object of identity and defining its image? Since identity has started to be both a motif and a constant preoccupation for architecture – and I would argue that this is related with the emergence of modernity as a (generalized) attitude – these questions have come to haunt the architectural imagination. When projected on the architecture(s) of the former communist bloc, the multifaceted structure of identity issues acquires even greater complexity. In spite of the connotations of the word, Eastern Europe did not form a homogenous “bloc” during the years of the communist regime. It is true that the tight Soviet control implied a certain unification of the area, but this external imposition did not succeed in entirely erasing the differences existing between these countries before their “satellization” nor in preventing their different reactions to this imposed politics. In the realm of architecture, it is true that these differences existing before the war were obscured by the thorough Stalinization of all levels of society, yet this development was only brief – and, as shown below, superficial. In this short interval, Socialist Realism came to embody, across almost all the territory behind the Iron Curtain, the common identity of the new, fervently proclaimed world. Yet when this interval ended, in spite of what might have perceived from the West as an image of uniformity, based on the image of endless, monotonous mass-housing developments, different forms of individual identity reemerged in the architectures of the bloc. Most of the architects in the region were pursuing paths already explored in terms of identity issues before 1945, while renewing (and adapting) their discourse and architectural expression to the new realities. If the external expression changed . . . remained more or less the same, while the motivation increased under the stimulation and pressure of the newly enthroned ideology in search of an image to speak for it….

The Influence of Architectural Competitions of the Late Fifties and Sixties on the Development of Architectural Form

The article “Czech and Moravian Architectural Competitions in the Sixties – Their Specific Contribution to the History of Czechoslovak Modern Architecture” was published in the 47th volume of the Journal of Architectural and Town-Planning Theory. It summarized the results of the research which dealt with 152 selected competitions from this decade, which were held in Bohemia and Moravia, as well as a number that were not intended for a specific location or important projects for foreign countries. The purpose of the research was to evaluate the specific role of architectural competitions from this era in the development of Czechoslovak architecture, to highlight the most progressive designs in terms of the development of form and typology, to point out the prominent position of Prague with regard to the number of designs realized, and to evaluate the impact of competitions on theoretical discussion, the work of particular architects and conservation principles and policy. The research pointed out that contemporary competitions were most influential in connection with the development of architectural form. This article describes the main formal categories to emerge in architectural competitions of the 1950s and 1960s. Categorization terminology is derived from Rostislav Švácha´s concept of architectural styles, as published in the book Czech Architecture 1945 – 1995 (though Švácha’s categories did not involve competition projects). As a starting point, this article provides a summary of the competitions intended to overcome the method of socialist realism (after 1954), in which the seeking of new inspirational resources held the key role. Architectural competitions reflected one of the few attempts to identify new tendencies in the discipline. Starting in 1955, attention turned to the tradition of Czechoslovak inter-war functionalism and to the contemporary western models. With the success of the Expo 58 pavilion in Brussels, the return to modern architecture assumed official standing. In addition, the text provils an overview of other ground-breaking competitions, which were also interpreted at that time as important for the ongoing stylistic change. From the research, it is clear that the International Style, in both its technicist and aestheticist forms, dominated the competitions of the 60`s (especially in the first half of the decade). Generally, the International Style was particularly invoked for administrative buildings, hospitals, schools, as well as cultural facilities. A technicist approach took hold in the first half of the 1960s (high-rise buildings with a substructure and a neutral curtain wall)….

Sustainable Urban Design: A Solar Strategy for a Sustainable City

Sustainable development is a key principle in the European Union. As a moral leader and pioneer in energy-efficient buildings, the EU is carrying out the first legislative steps by implementing the Europe 2020 strategy in real life. Currently, the energy-efficient solutions for individual buildings are common knowledge; now the focus is shifting from single objects towards further, more complex systems such as urban fragments, city districts or even whole cities. By 2050, cities will accommodate about 70% of world’s population – yet even at present, they are responsible for 80% of CO2 emissions. With this in mind, it is necessary, but also convenient, to look for solutions to global environmental problems within cities. Urban layout varies with many factors, such as local climate, topology, or cultural background, all of which need to be reflected in the new concepts of 21st-century energy-efficient urban design. On this matter, we have the opportunity to learn from the past – the streets of cities emerging under Spanish influence were often laid out for conditions of greater sunlight, known as the Spanish grid. The present contribution presents a strategy for making cities more energy efficient by preferring local renewable energy sources while maintaining their identity and cultural heritage. Today we can reliably look for solutions in silico, through computer simulations. It is possible to evaluate quickly many urban variations including diverse aspects while saving considerable effort and energy. This focus of this study is on software generation of urban structures according to the position of the sun to maximize active and passive solar energy utilisation. The given approach creates nearly zero- or even plus-energy urban volumes, which are able to supply the energy surplus to their surroundings in an energy cooperation process, including even existing developments. In addition, the energy cooperation potential between basic typologies of city fragments was analysed. Solar potential was studied with regard to the two basic principles of solar energy utilization – active (photovoltaic and photothermic conversion) and passive (transmission through building openings). With regard to these principles, the unobstructed solar exposition of corresponding surfaces is crucial and deserves far more attention in urban planning processes….

Elites and the Public – The Ethical Dimension of Urban Planning in the Czech Republic

The public sector in the Czech Republic increasingly displays activity in participation in matters of further interest – and not only in the process of spatial planning. Gradually emerging as the general trend in the Czech Republic is a grouping of orientations described in Western professional literature since the 1960s. An apt description of this term could be the democratization of planning, and the aerodynamics of the system in terms of benefits to market subjects. The activation of the general public results from the sense that the process of spatial planning ignores public opinion. This missing role in the planning process is called “advocacy planning”, involving a popularisation of the process for the general public, and mainly coming to the defence of the interests of those who lack an effective voice in the process within the institutions concerned. Particularly missing is the role of elites in the process of spatial planning – as an organizer of public discussion. One of the reasons is the inability to lead the process of participation and the other reason is an active effort deliberately to exclude local communities from the process. In brief, how the process is viewed by the elites in terms of of spatial planning can be stated in two ways. One is defined by an idealistic view, as in the formula: elites = power + morality + knowledge. However, the process of spatial planning is in actual practice most strongly influenced by what could be termed the quasi-elites, as in the formula: elites = power + knowledge. Legislative treatment of the process of spatial planning is a mandatory minimum, yet even here mere legal compliance cannot ensure an equitable solution. To do so depends on the society, what kind of political representation will be elected, and who will be form the elite. These two factors are an outcome of the social elements known as “soft values”, which legislative regulation is not able to transcribe and protect. Definitely, though, it is true that the problems confronting the assessment of the phenomenon of social elites in the Czech Republic has yet to be addressed in the professional literature of spatial planning. In the Czech Republic, the system of spatial planning is based on an emphasis of agreement among elected officials, which in turn holds the responsibility for assigning problems to specific leading experts….

The Principle of Density Regulation as a Way Towards Sustainable City Growth

Case Study – Master Plans of Selected Cities in Slovakia

Cities in Slovakia have undergone significant expansion since the year 1990. This expansion is manifested in the growth of built-up areas, mainly in city suburbs, in the form of monofunctional development of individual housing units, construction of large industrial and logistics parks and massive commercial centers. All of the developments mentioned above are characterised by enormous “land-consumption”, even though there is still a large land-use potential inside the cities. This potential is mainly present in areas which have lost their previous function. Very little attention is being paid to this problem in Slovakia, where no targeted and periodic analysis of inner-city built-up areas is underway, nor any valorisation of potentials and possible land-use of empty inner-city areas. A further problem is that areas indicated for new development in city master plans are generated on the basis of the visions or hypothetical investments of developers, instead of real needs and sustainable forms of urban growth. One of the principles of land conservation and effective city operation is the application of sustainable forms of city development. A tried and tested form of sustainable city development is the concept of the compact city, achieved by intensification of the existing urban fabric, use of available areas inside the city and limited construction outside the boundaries. Optimised density of urban structures is an integral part of conceiving sustainable city growth. To realise the listed principles, urban fabric density should meet certain parameters. An optimal representation of these parameters could be the interval of minimal and maximal urban fabric density, which is applicable to two contradictory tendencies present in Slovakia in the development of the natural density of the urban fabric. One of them is inadequate urban fabric density in the suburbs, the other one is non-conceptual maximisation of density in some parts of the city. These very different density standards started to appear in the end of first decade of the new millennium in Slovakia, during the peak of the building boom, characterised by “land privatization”. And the character of master plans was unprepared for these tendencies. In the following study, I will try to evaluate the current state of the application of sustainable city growth principles in Slovakia through an analysis of master plans, which are the main mechanisms of regulation of urban development, of selected cities. The study emphasises the evaluation of the approach to density regulation, rate of land-use of selected cities, their built-up areas as well as their proposed development areas. One of the goals of this paper is to analyse the proposed “land-use” of free and transformable areas inside the city compared to proposed “land-consumption” outside the city.