Contested functions of (socialist) architecture in post-socialist cities

In former socialist countries, architecture was state-sponsored discipline, supposed to “crystallize the new forms of socialist life” and become official visual and spatial expression of national culture.

The program of architecture correlated with political and social program, embodying thus different social, cultural, educational, political, ideological and representational functions. The building types such as cooperative houses, culture homes, workers' homes, (youth) memorial centres, workers' universities, and many others were seen as "social condensers" of a time, progressive and visionary enterprises, whose architectural qualities educated masses, represented and promoted values of "new society". The collapse of socialist state made this architectural production de-contextualized, but also, architectural discipline out of consideration for its capacity to make change.  

The session deals with new social, political, educational, representational roles and functions of architecture in the post-socialist era. It questions the capacity of contemporary architecture to promote and support the change in time of transition. Can architecture be on the forefront of change, as it used to be? What are the values of architecture in society in transition, and what are architectural values? Is there "great architecture" in transition?  What are the values of state architecture nowadays?

Another approach to the topic considers strategies for re-approaching, re-use, re-programming, re-modelling and re-branding of former buildings and sites of socialist-state.  Their often disputed volume, spatial capacity, visual abstractionand emptiness is taken for (speculative) resource in turbulent process of spatial and architectural re-appropriation and new (commercial) use. Can the (socialist) heritage be utilized in such process, as an interim strategy, until new architectureevolves? Can they enclose, once again, content resting on the progressive societal, cultural, artistic (and ideological) ideas? Can it help to understand and rehabilitate the discipline of architecture? Is their temporary occupation solution for their transition into more certain future, which embraces their actual values?

All other contributions supplementing this debate are appreciated and welcomed.


Session chairs:

Dr. Dragana Konstantinović, Department for Architecture and Urbanism, FTN, Novi Sad University, Serbia;

Dragana Konstantinović works as assistant professor. She is practicing architect and active researcher in the field of architecture and urbanism. Her work includes identification, promotion and design strategies for programmatic reutilisation of the architectural heritage of the socialist modernism; activities regarding promotion of architectural profession and practice; studies of the multilateral relations of architectural discipline with present spatial, urban and cultural policies, legal and regulatory framework. She teaches architectural design and courses related to history and theory of architecture.

Dr. Miljana Zeković, Department for Architecture and Urbanism, FTN, Novi Sad University, Serbia;

Miljana Zekovic currently holds a position of an Associate Professor. She has been working in the education sector for the past fourteen years, teaching Architectural Design, Ephemeral Architecture, Scene Architecture and Architecture of Exhibition and Events. Miljana is a co-founder and a board member of the non-profit architecturally oriented Ephemera Collective, with her research interests in spatial design and practices, spatial phenomenology, and the interdisciplinary experiments in domain of architecture and correlating disciplines.

© 2018 urbanmorphosislab

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