Utopias and Realities workshop at BUTE

Utopias and Realities: Socialist Modernism workshop was organized by the architects of paradigma:ariadné studio at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics Architecture Faculty. The topic of the workshop was strongly connected to the Transmodern Forum in Berlin and its purpose was to design the main installation of the Forum to the exhibition space of Collegium Hungaricum Berlin.

According to the fact that the history of Eastern and Central European modernist architecture is partly covered in the curriculum at BUTE, the other important aim of the workshop was to show a broad range of this history to younglings and catch their interest.

Socialist utopias and visionary plans is a good topic to start to get into the history of socialist modernism especially for second and third year students. Therefore the first two days of the workshop was a seminar like course with day-long lectures and discussions, where the participants had time to accommodate with the topic and argue it. In the closing section of this part we invited Andi Schmied and Adam Kokesch artists whose activity is in connection with built environment, and they showed us creative ways to react to an architectural input with the medium of installations. Thanks to them the students experienced a completely new way of creation where they do not have to keep their mindset between the limits what the architectural faculty require from them.

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Thus the final installations represent an experiment where the freedom of medium independent creating is in charge over rational thinking and it also shows the possibility to react to socialist utopias and socialist modernism in artistic way. The most influential example for the student was Elemér Zalotay’s ribbon house from 1965. This four kilometer long housing utopia on the riverbank of Danube only few kilometers away from Budapest as planned could accommodate more than 100.000 habitants. It was never realized but caused a huge debate on socialist housing projects just before Hungary turned to the soviet type industrialized building method.

The idea of a four kilometer long building is more than inspiring. The outcome of the workshop aims to help us to accommodate with the scale of this building, and realize its enormous size.

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