Utopias and Realities – Final program of the Berlin conference

The ‘Utopias and Realities: Socialist Modernism’ conference and forum is organized by the Transmodern collective and Collegium Hungaricum Berlin in 28-29 April 2016 in Berlin, Germany. We have a really interesting program with 17 lecturers from 9 countries. We are looking forward to the conference!

The conference and all connected programs are held in English. Every lecture lasts for 25 minutes, and is followed by a 10 min Q&A session. All programs are free.

For attendance, please sign up here.

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28 April 2016 Thursday


9:30- Registration

10:00 Opening, greeting of the audience


Section 1. Quest of a Socialist City

Moderated by Martin Zaiček, Archimera, Bratislava



The lecture highlights cases from the development of the city centre and some other significant projects of Győr between 1960–1980. The building of the new centre was started in the 19th century, but it was only completed in 1971. We know about ambitious plans from before the WWII, and starry-eyed concepts in the post-war reconstruction fever. Visualizations from the fifties underline the contradictions of the era. The finally materialized development shows the acknowledgement of the socialist economic reality, but it did not give up on the idea of representing Győr as one of the most important industrial centres of Hungary.

This economical role has given Győr some realized “utopia”. Among others, the National Theatre (1977) deserves to be mentioned. For the creation of the huge building the proximity of the western border and the city’s perseverance and inventiveness were all needed. The Technical College (1977) should be mentioned as an ambitious building, which keeps up with international examples. The realization of these projects shows how a city tries to wind up financial, ideological and construction limits to create buildings, which meet the functionally needs and also represent its (real or utopian) identity.

Gergely HARTMANN (HU) is an architect, researcher and curator. He studied architecture at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, and after working for two years as architect at the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest, he currently practises at the Palatium Stúdió. He also maintains and curates moderngyor.com, a complex website about the 20th century architecture of Győr, Hungary. He participated in several conferences, among them the first Transmodern conference in Budapest, October 2015.  



The leisure time in post-war period represents an unique chapter of urban and architectural development of the cities. Water reservoir in the city of Brno is one of the largest area for mass recreation, which was planned at the beginning as clearly utilitarian project and during the time became one of the most important leisure time resort. However there have been several ideas and projects for its extension, especially for international transport reasons, the recreation for Brno citizens prevailed and fulfil the dream of many inland inhabitants about the sea cost in their city.

The Sea of Brno is a common research project of Šarka Svobodová and Jaroslav Sedlák.

Šárka SVOBODOVÁ (CZ) graduated in 2007 from History, Art History and Greek Language and Literature at Philosophical Faculty of Masaryk University in Brno. Since 2013 she participates in the Doctoral Study Programme of the Art in the Public Space and Art Management at Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology. In 2010-2013 she worked as a coordinator of the Brno Architecture Manual (BAM) at the House of Arts in Brno. In 2010 she co-founded 4AM Forum for Architecture and Media and participates in the operation of the cultural space PRAHA. Since 2011 she is an assistant in Studio of Drawing and Printmaking at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology. Since 2013 she has been working as an editor of the Smart Cities magazine.

Jaroslav SEDLÁK (CZ) graduated as an architect in 2009 after studies at the BUT Brno (CZ), TUT Tampere (FI), FUATUL, Liberec (CZ). He currently takes part in the PhD program of the BUT Brno with the research topic ’ post-socialist city transformations’; since 2015, he is an assistant of the Faculty of Architecture. He has been a member of the 4AM///Forum for media and architecture since 2010, and organized several programs, workshops and exhibitions in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Moldova. Since 2013 he has been an editor of the Smart Cities magazine. He founded his own architecturel office, Cabinet ASDFGHJKL with Šárka Svobodová in 2015.



The once-industrial town of Salgótarján, wich used to be an exemplary town of Socialist urban planning in the 1960-70s, is now struggling with the legacy of the past and the seemingly hopeless future. Its inhabitans have very ambivalent feelings towards their city and its past during socialism, although they have to live their daily life in the settings of the decaying modernist city, reminding them constantly of the previous system.  After 1989, the city lost its former privileged status, most of its industry collapsed, and its population shrinked. This also shows that the progress of the 60s-70s was generated from above and was not sustainable – hence, the original plans to build a modern city and generate a cultural life, which is appropriate for the newly established built environment, and the scale of the utopic idea to create the „ideal Socialist city” and its ideal inhabitant is still astonishing.

Salgótarján was not a newly founded and erected town, but one that was radically transformed during the huge constructions of the 1960-70s, along with its former atmosphere and scale. The architectural quality of the city centre, characterised by the buildings of the Kádár era’s prominent architects (György Jánossy, György Szrogh, József Finta and Géza Magyar), was regarded as a standard and catalyst for other areas of life. The transformation of the city lasted for decades, and it gives us the opportunity to examine the accompanying architectural debates, utopias and compromises of the period. It also shows how the reigning power connected the notion of progress to these kind of towns, and used various methods to achieve that the urbanising masses would embrace the identity of the town-dweller. Decisions of cultural policy served a double aim: to shape the taste of working class inhabitants, and to strengthen the local identity. The lecture examines the interferences of urbanism and cultural policy through different  junctions: the possible roles of artists in the town, the significance of sculptures on public squares, and the representation of Salgótarján at the Venice Biennial in 1976.

Anna JUHÁSZ (HU) is an art historian and curator from Budapest. She has degrees in Art History and Film Theory and Film History from Eötvös Loránd University, and in Fine Art Theory from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest. From 2014 she worked as program supervisor at ACAX | Agency for Contemporary Art Exchange and as co-curator at OFF-Biennale Budapest. Since 2015 she has been working in Kassák Museum. Her fields of research are ephemeral artistic practices, the possibilities of artistic self-organization, and the cultural legacy of socialism. She has been dealing with the examination of this legacy both in her researches and as co-curator of the exhibition Past, Continuous – Contemporary reflections on the cultural legacy of Socialism (Budapest, 2014).











Salgótarján, houses on Meredek street. Photo: Fortepan, Tibor Kádas 


12:00-13:00 Lunch break


Section 2. Idealism in Practice

Moderated by Attila Csóka, Translations of Modernism



The aim of the presentation is to introduce the brief history of Dunaújváros, the first Socialist model town in Hungary and represent the utopian architectural idea behind its construction with the highlights on the political effects. In her research Annamária Nagy investigated the socialist utopian idea of the Stalinist Russia, the Soviet Union and Hungary, then focused on what made Dunaújváros the model town of the Hungarian Socialism. The very first plans had some modern aspects, then these transformed into a cleaner socialist realist style under the political pressure. Nagy went through several documents from the 1950s to the 1970s: political statements about the expected architectural style, original plans of some buildings, memoires of architects and contemporary press. She compared the plans with the results and got some conclusions on what caused the differences, how the plans were changing continually as the political system softened in the course of time. Nagy chose one building to represent in detail those characteristics which had to be changed in order to be more socialist realists –  the Dózsa Picture Theatre by György Szrogh.

Annamária NAGY (HU) is an art historian and curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Dunaújváros, Hungary. She graduated in 2014 at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest with the thesis ‘Fine Arts and Politics during the Socialist Era in Dunaújváros’, and worked in 2014-2015 as a research fellow at the King Saint Stephen Museum, Székesfehérvár. In November 2015 she worked as a Curator-in-Residence at MQ21, Vienna, Austria.



In this presentation the authors, Markus Kip, Douglas Young and Lisa Drummond argue that the socialist era development of Alexanderplatz was staged as the realization of the modernist vision. Alexanderplatz was strongly shaped by modernist concepts, however, it also includes distinctive “socialist” features. The authors trace how modernist concepts traveled into the GDR plans for Alexanderplatz, even when the development was packaged as an alternative to the modernist movement.

To make this argument, Kip, Young and Drummond show that the GDR planning for Alexanderplatz closely followed the GDR “Principles of Urban Development” (Grundsätze des Städtebaus) also known as the “16 Principles”, passed in 1950. These 16 Principles, in turn, were strongly shaped by the Soviet “Principles of the Reconstruction of Moscow” of 1935. While widely understood to be the opposite to the CIAM Athens’ Charter of 1933, another historical reading suggests that the Soviet Principles of 1935 and Le Corbusier’s account of the “Athens’ Charter” were rather two competing visions within the modernist movement of the 1930s and 1940s. It was only with the onset of the Cold War that one of these visions was labeled as “socialist” as a strategy of distinction.

This presentation comes out of the research project “Socialist Cities in the 21st Century: Modernist Legacies and Contemporary Urban Policy-Making” by Markus Kip, Douglas Young and Lisa Drummond, that compares case studies in Berlin, Hanoi and Stockholm.

Markus KIP (DE) recently completed his PhD in sociology at York University and works as a Postdoc at the Graduate School of Urban Studies (URBANgrad) at the Darmstadt University of Technology starting April 1st. Markus is co-editor of the special issue “Modernism and the (post-)socialist city” (1-2/2014-2015) of the journal “Europa Regional”.













East-Berlin, Alexanderplatz. Photo: Fortepan




After a huge earthquake in 1963 the reconstruction of Skopje would become an experimental laboratory for a 1970s utopian socialist vision of urban development. Although Kenzo Tange’s master plan was only realized in rather fragmentary fashion, it certainly paved the way for other visionary projects, such as the Student dormitory and the City Archive, both by Georgi Konstantinovski. Janko Konstantinov created an organic concrete sculpture as the Central Skopje Post Office, while Marko Musić  concentrated on the old town’s labyrinth of little lanes and squares in his design for the university building. But the most impressive of all is the Macedonian Opera and Ballet built in 1979. It looks less like a building, more like a mountain range whose slopes cascade down to the Vardar River, reminiscent of the Oslo Opera House by Snøhetta or modern-day buildings by Zaha Hadid. In the act of reinventig Skopje the governing Conservatives are now destroying parts of this unique ensemble.

Peter SÄGESSER (CH) is an architect and social worker. Since he made an internship at a state own office in the communist Budapest during his architecture study at the ETH Zürich (1985 – 1991), Peter Sägesser explores and documents the Post War architecture in Central and Eastern Europe. The results are shown since 2006 on his webpage ostarchitektur.com. Peter Sägesser has an architecture office in Bern and wrote several articles about the architecture in Central and Eastern Europe. He is lecturer for Social Space at the University of Applied Arts, Board Member of the Architekturforum Bern and Member of the Society of Historians of East European, Eurasian, and Russian Art and Architecture.


15:20-15:40 Coffee break


Section 3. People behind Ideas

Moderated by Szabolcs Molnár, Translations of Modernism



In December of 1944 Hungarian government took an attempt to solve national wealth to Germany, for the graduate university students – were  thought essential to rebuiled the country after the war. The diplaced students had to leave soon from Breslau and Halle as well, the end of  WWII  found them in Denmark. Here they were classified as „friendly enemies”, and were supplied by Denish Red Cross, meanwhile some of them found job in architectural studios. Hungarian students took studies trips in Denmark, also in neighbour countries and bought some books about Skandinavian architecture.

The students who returned to Hungary in the autumn of 1946, found themselves trapped inside the Iron-curtain, their experience in Scandinavia were essentially important as well as thier Scandinavian books. Although they did not form a coherent group, they became a myth of the post-war Hungarian architecture as the group of „danish” architects. During requied archaism of the socialist realist era they could draws inspiration from the neoclassical modern architecture of Skandinavia. Later, when industrial building made Hungarian arhitecture totally compliant, they reached back to mater for knoweledge known from Skandinavian architecture as brick and wood saving the humanity of building.

In my lecture I would like to represent the works of the „danish” architects, asking the question if they really show impact of Skandinavian architecture or they were only stigmatized due the myth around the „danish” group and the need of being stuck in the other northern culture.

Ábel MÉSZÁROS (HU) is an architect and architecture historian. He graduated at the Budapest University of Technoloy and Economics, Faculty of Architecture. After gaining practice in different Hungarian studios, in 2009 he founded his own office, IMBOL Studio. In 2012-2015 he worked for the Municipality of Budapest, Department of Urban Planning, Strategic Planning Section. Since 2015 he’s working as an architecture historian and advisor for the Lechner Knowledge Center in Budapest. He participated in several international workshops and exhibitions, and published various articles. He also maintains a professional blog, late-modern.blogspot.com.



‘A lonely island in the puddle of socialist realism’—this is how Oskar Hansen, an architect collaborating with the Art and Research Unit of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, described their common practice and contributed to the myth developed around their legacy. Created in 1954, the Art and Research Unit played a supportive role in the curriculum of the academy and provided its staff and students with a possibility to work together on external commissions. Their interdisciplinary designs, led mostly by Jerzy Sołtan, Le Corbusier’s assistant between 1945 and 1949, and Zbigniew Ihnatowicz, were a reflection of late Corbusian thought in the period of Polish Thaw. References to antiquity and architectural archetypes, the concept of ineffable space and the impression of timelessness known from Le Corbusier’s oeuvre from the turn of 1950s found their expression in the realm of the socialist country. Contributing to the ongoing social action that aims at the revitalization of the ‘Warszawianka’ sports centre in Warsaw, the first architectural realization of the Art and Research Unit, I would like to discuss the issue of preservation of postwar modern heritage in the context of a post-socialist country. Legends developed around Sołtan’s biography, their mythical isolation from the official architectural milieu, and the visible conceptual distinctiveness of their works did not protect the legacy of the Art and Research Unit from serious deterioration. How to protect the architectural heritage that is doomed by the political context of its creation? How to save the poetic values of architecture? How to preserve the spatial experience of modernism when the space in the neo-liberal realm has a totally different value?

Aleksandra KĘDZIOREK (PL) is an art historian and a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. Her major interest lies in exploring the intersection of architecture and the visual arts, and experimental approaches to art and architecture pedagogy. She has curated exhibitions, screenings and seminars at the MACBA in Barcelona, the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, La Loge in Brussels, tranzit.hu in Budapest and Index— Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation in Stockholm. She is also the curator of the Oskar and Zofia Hansen house in Szumin. She co-edited the volume “Oskar Hansen—Opening Modernism: On Open Form Architecture, Art and Didactics” and published in architectural journals, A10, Volume and Architektura&urbanizmus, among others.



The architectural work of Ferenc Bán occupies a special place in Hungarian architecture of the last nearly half a century. His works are autonomous, but at the same time they carry the influences that were typical at the time of the design and which, however, do not or only rarely fit the national mainstream tendencies. Almost all of his designs and buildings are inventive experiments.

The most interesting and unique chapter of his ouvre is the the long construction history of the County Cultural Center of Nyíregyháza (between 1969-1981), being one of the most important works in Hungary, reflecting Japanese Metabolism and also the structuralist thinking in some respect. The architectural thinking of Metabolism in the 60s, having global significance, was simultaneously fed by the faith in the limitlessness of economic development and by the recognition of the radical scale-change arising from the overpopulation of cities.

There are a lot of parallel phenomena which are useful to compare and show the importance of Bán’s building. For example the Pompidou Center, built in 1977 in Paris, is a project that places the supporting structures, circulation and services to the facade and thinks in flexible interior space structures. Of course, Nyíregyháza is not Paris and a Hungarian rural community house is not the paradigm-changing museum concept of a European metropolis. Within the quite grey architectural world of the 70s in Hungary, Bán’s building reflects the longing for far away, and the inventive experiment for heroically exceeds the given possibilities.

Levente SZABÓ (HU) is an architect, who contributed to the design of several public buildings as the chief architect of Hetedik Műterem. Since 2011 he has worked as a visiting lecturer, since 2007 as a full-time university lecturer and presently as an assistant professor at the BME Department of Public Building Design in Budapest. He obtained the doctoral (DLA) degree in 2008. Since 2010, he is the secretary of the Doctoral School of Architecture and the master of ÉME Master School. He is the author of several analytical architectural articles and book chapters. His book about Ferenc Bán’s architecture was published in 2015. Between 2012 and 2015 he was the scholar of the MTA Bolyai János Research Scholarship, focusing on contemporary Hungarian architecture.












Nyíregyháza, cultural center designed by Ferenc Bán. Photo: Fortepan, Magyar Rendőr


18:00 Opening of the exhibition, introduction to the results of the Budapest workshop


19:00 TransModern Movie Night #01 The Afterlife of Buildings

Guest House Helios (US, 2013, 60′)

Constructed in 1963, the beach resort Guest House Helios is an artifact of its time, a witness of Yugoslavian Communism.  Bearing the same name as its subject, Guest House Helios, this film follows the day-to-day operations of the hotel during one of its final seasons before its scheduled closure and demolition in 2014.  Long after the breakup of Yugoslavia, this film documents how the guests and workers of this hotel engage within a structure of hospitality built upon the principles of Yugoslavian Socialism – only now within the conditions of present day capitalism.

Directed by Ryan S JEFFERY.

Santier in lucru (RO, 2014, 83′)

The communist regime has fallen, but the huge construction sites it left behind are still standing. A new wind blows over Romanian cities. 25 years after the economic and political liberation of the country, the urban scenery is being again transformed. Santier in lucru (‘construction site’) follows the evolution of a country in a continuous  economic and political transition, analysing 3 representative cities (Cluj-Napoca, Iaşi and Constanţa) and the mechanisms of a „anarchic democracy” that threatens ecological, social and urban stability.

Directed by Sindy QUÉRÉ, Guillaume LEBON & Bénédicte VACQUEREL. Producer: Enfin Bref Production.


29 April 2016 Friday


10:00 Guided Tour at the Berlinische Galerie

A special guided tour with Ursula Müller and Dr. Annelie Lütgens, curators at the Berlinische Galerie. The story behind the RADICALLY MODERN. URBAN PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURE IN 1960S BERLIN exhibition, amazing architectural collages from the 70s, and exclusive insights in the actual exhibition “Modern Visionaries”.

Meeting point: BERLINISCHE GALERIE. Alte Jakobstraße 124–128, 10969 Berlin, Germany. Entrance of the museum, cash desk.

Meeting date: 10:00

Please note that there’s a maximum capacity of 30 guests at this program,therefore we ask you to register to the program.

The afternoon program continues at the Collegium Hungaricum Berlin.

Section 4. Places to be

Moderated by Šárka Svobodová and Jaroslav Sedlák, 4AM Forum for Architecture and Media, Brno



Riga, Latvia: The whole square in front of ancient townhall burnt down in WW II. Soviet municipality erased all the ruins, in 1970 (donated to Lenin’s centennial) the “Museum of the Red Latvian Riflemen” was erected as an early monument of Soviet modernism: rather an abstract sculpture than a building.

In independent Latvia 1991 the first urban task was to rebuild the old townhall as well as – even more important! – the world famous Black Heads House (12 th -16 th Century). Amidst this postmodern ensemble the straight modernist Riflemen Museum survived – now with a new content: as Museum of Occupations. Such harsh confrontation of controversial urban concepts generates a remarkable clash of signs on this inner city battle ground.

Wolfgang KIL (DE) is an architect, author, freelance critic and curator. He graduated as an architect in Weimar in 1972, and worked in 1972-78 as an architect at the East-Berlin Housing combinate. Ha was an editor-in-chief of Farbe & Raum (1978-1982), and editor of Bauwelt (1992-1994). Since 1994, he works as a freelance critic and publicist. Since 1998 he’s a member of the  Saxon Academy of Fine Arts, Dresden. His work has been acknowledged with the Press Awards of the Federal Architects Chamber, Germany (1993, 2001), the Grand Prix for Critics of the German Architectural Association (1997) and the 1 st Prize for journalists of the Berlin Press and Business Club and colour designers, East-Berlin (2002). He published several books, among them Gründerparadiese. Vom Bauen in Zeiten des Übergangs (Berlin 2000), Werksiedlungen – Wohnform des Industriezeitalters (Dresden 2003), Luxus der Leere – Vom schwierigen Rückzug aus der Wachstumswelt (Wuppertal 2004), Das Wunder von Leinefelde (also in English: The Marvel of Leinefelde; Dresden 2007), Wolfgang Hänsch – Architekt der Dresdner Moderne. (Berlin 2009).



The aim of the presented project Hot Modern is to arouse public interest in the values of forgotten (abandoned) architecture in the localities of Slovak spa towns. The name of the project refers to the connection of the water with the phenomenon of body care, both meets here in the unique complex of Slovak balneological architecture. Despite of the pathos of the era of socialism, when the spa development culminated, the architecture represents qualities of European modernism.

The presentation will introduce this unknown topic to foreign public. It will go thru the examples of Slovak spa architecture, which are just a fragment of the original planned spa development.. Of the total amount of 22 spa localities in Slovakia, 18 consists mostly from the late modern development, including probably the largest civil building in Slovakia ‐ 750m long balneological complex in Piešťany. Unfortunately the actual state of this architecture stands in‐between the great past and uncertain future.

Martin ZAIČEK (SK) is an architect. He studied at the Academy of fine Arts and Design in Bratislava (2006-2012), the Universytet Artysticzny w Poznaniu, Poznań, the Mendel University in Brno, and since 2014 he’s a PhD student at the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava, Faculty of architecture. He founded the initiative  ‘Abandoned (re)creation’ in 2012. Since 2010, he works as a project manager of Archimera NGO; since 2013, he is also the manager for the ‘Get in with architecture?’ Architectural essay competition. He is a member of the DOCOMOMO International. He participated in workshops in Georgia and Austria, organized and curated several exhibitions in Slovakia, Germany and Georgia. As an expert in Slovakian Modernism, he is a frequent participant of conferences and forums organized in the topic of post-war Central and Eastern European architecture.



The secular Soviet state was well known for its elaborate ‘socialist rites’ instituted for life’s milestones, from birth through marriage to death. Actions traditionally carried out in a sacral space were rather quickly assigned to ‘consumer services’, and were replaced by the civil registration of the new-born child, the secular wedding and funeral rite. The challenge, therefore, was to create secular spaces with their own dramaturgy, designed to offer appropriate settings for weddings and funerals while avoiding any kind of religious presence. However, special purpose-designed types of buildings began to spread out in many Soviet republics only from the 1970s onwards. Soviet Lithuania in this context played the role of an experimental place since the first purpose built Wedding Palace in Vilnius (1968–1974) and Funeral Palace in Vilnius (1968–1975) served as prototypes of functional type, modern aesthetics and symbols for the entire Soviet Union. From the social point of view these buildings are seen as substitutes to sacral spaces – a wedding palace substitutes a Soviet church whereas a funeral palace is an interpretation of a cemetery chapel. From the artistic/architectural point of view they represent late Soviet mannerism in architecture as certain simulacra filled with surplus meanings and decorations.

Marija DRĒMAITĒ (LIT) holds a PhD in History of Architecture (2006) and is an Associate professor at Vilnius University, Department of Theory of History and Cultural History. Her scientific interest is focused on Soviet modernism, 20 th century architecture, and industrial heritage. She is involved in DOCOMOMO Nordic-Baltic cooperation, where she investigates political planning and architecture in the Soviet Baltic States. In 2011 she received post-doctoral grant from the Lithuanian research council and co-authored a book “Architecture in Soviet Lithuania” (2012).



The short case-study of Déli (South) Railway Station together with another station by the same architect György Kővári (1934-82) is exemplifying the process when degradation pushes ahead a building towards a negative spiral. At the end of this downhill ride, the once prestigious and progressive architectural idol becomes a wrecked flagship of bad reputation.

Déli Station is one of the oldest railway yards in Budapest, nevertheless the present ensemble was constructed in two phases in the early ’60s and ’70s following the destruction of WWII. The earlier, smaller version of the building is a vivacious, modernist pavilion cantilevering over the pedestrian area with a composition of exterior stairs. Later, the glass box was enlarged while keeping the original pavilion idea to provide a showcase towards the neighbouring park and the medieval castle district of Buda.

Slightly later, Kővári created a well-performing intermodal junction at Kőbánya-Kispest, Budapest, where he provided direct link between different rail services and buses by an utopistic megastructure in the form of a bridge-like edifice.

Both buildings have lost their original grandeur due to poor maintenance and rude, low quality exploitation of their surfaces. Neither the greater public, nor the decision-makers can understand their values any more, they look at the sites as demolition grounds for new developments instead. The importance of raising awareness to understand socialist-modern architecture is more important now than ever before, since degradation and denial will place buildings of this kind in Taygetus, and let them disappear from our architectural heritage.

Zoltán ERŐ (HU) is an architect, urbanist, founder of Palatium Studio Ltd., founding curator of KÉK – Contemporary Architecture Centre at Budapest. Besides taking part in urban planning and public space development projects, he works for years on the revitalization of historic towns, public spaces and buildings. As a general architect for Budapest Underground Line 4, he was the leader of architects responsible for the architectural conception of the whole line, and was also architect in charge for four stations. He is known for his regular lectures and publications, as well.












Budapest, Déli pályaudvar, a design by György Kővári. Photo: Fortepan


15:25-16:00 Coffee break


Section 5. What Makes a Country

Moderated by Zoltán Erő, Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre, Budapest



The lecture focuses on the reinforced concrete shell architecture of mid-20 th century Hungary. Shell architecture is the perfect manifestation of the classical modernist idea of the symbiotic relationship between form and structure, which had a special significance in the post-war social-political context of Hungary. Due to its complexity, shell building required a pioneering spirit, therefore even though there are some national characteristics, they are deeply influenced by the work of a couple of outstanding designers, both national and international. The case studies of selected Hungarian reinforced concrete shells help to identify the key features of the Hungarian School (as referred to by Stefan Polónyi). Their comparison to international examples puts them in a broader context: sometimes it is possible to identify the well-known international precursor of a Hungarian structure, which clearly demonstrates that knowledge transfer was very much possible, contradicting the myth of the Iron Curtain. On the other hand, the comparison sheds light on the unique skills and – by any standard – astonishing achievements of Hungarian shell builders.

Orsolya GÁSPÁR (HU) is a practising architect and assistant lecturer at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Faculty of Architecture, Department of Mechanics. She studied architecture at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the TU Wien – Faculty of Architecture. She worked as a professional architect in 2007-2010 at Hungarian 3H Építésziroda, and later at the KrüllUng Kft. Currently she’s a PhD student, with research interest in the relationship between form and forces.



The main ideas and positions on the importance of architecture and design in an industrialized world, such as evolved at Deutscher Werkbund under Peter Behrens – and more prominently refined and canonized at the Bauhaus- only reached broad application in Germany during post-war architectural production, and then paradoxically within both opposing political systems.

Prefabricated Supermarket-Structures (so called ‘Einheitsserien-Kaufhallen’, EKS) made of steel-elements can be seen as a typical and radical outcome of Modern East-German post-war architecture. With only 4 different types of ‘Kaufhallen’ ESK 400/600, ESK 700/850, ESK 1000/1200 and ESK 1400/1800 the supply of the socialistic East-German population with goods of consumption was approached. Hundreds of these structures can still be found throughout the country. The standard EKS are extremely efficient and useful steel structures. They represent ideally the key postulates of Bauhaus: functionality, standardization, and prefabrication.

Oliver von SPRECKELSEN (DE) is an architect. He graduated at the Technischen Universität Berlin under Professor Sauerbruch. Before founding  LudeschervonSpreckelsen Architekten c/o STUDIOBERLIN he worked for the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam and in New York as an architect and project leader. In New York he was taught at the Pratt Institute, School of Architecture. Since April 2007 he is a scientific fellow at the UdK-Berlin, Lehrstuhl für Baukonstruktion und Entwerfen.



Between 1945 and 1989, despite the Communist state’s hostility towards religion, over 3,000 churches were built in Poland: “The Architecture of the Seventh Day.” Built by parishioners of scavenged and pirated materials, the churches were equally an expression of faith as they were a form of a protest against the government. Their fantastic designs were ruptures in the rigid urbanism of the centralized state. Neither legal nor prohibited, building churches engaged the most talented architects and craftsmen, who in turn enabled parish communities to build their own spaces of worship. Eventually, these communal projects became crucial sites in the democratization of Poland. Architecture of the Seventh Day discovers the history of these churches through photography, maps, archival research, and interviews of the builders. Looking to the future, the project documents strategies for grassroots, community-organized construction.

Kuba SNOPEK (PL) is an urban planner and researcher. He is an expert in Soviet mass housing, preservation of the intangible heritage and post-communist cities. In his career, Kuba worked on architectural and urban planning projects, urban research and exhibitions. He taught and curated educational programs (including an experimental digital program Vector) at the Strelka Institute and at MGIMO. His book „Belyayevo Forever” on preservation of the intangible heritage was published in English, Polish and Russian.



The monuments constructed in Bulgaria during the period between 1944-1989 are more popular now than ever before. A constant source of controversy and of attempts to split aesthetics and politics, they appear as either a platform for new messages or as spectacular structures divorced from context and underlying ideas.

‘On the instability of monuments’ came out of an MA course in Architectural  History mostly concerned with modernity – a period of attempts for radical rupture with history reflecting changes in society. Provoked mainly by western discourse on memory and the (in)ability of objects to perform as it keepers for posterity it was intriguing how this works in an eastern European context. There was also another interesting question – why would a socialist society based on ideals of equality, unity and internationalism seek to fix so permanently in space and time a history of a distant national past. And what does it mean to do so with modern structures?

Data collected for the purposes of this work was organised to give a graphical overview of a comprehensive number of monuments (150) comparing location, period of construction, what is commemorated, size, style and current condition. Five representative examples were analysed with the purpose of understanding how they were thought of as narrating history, keepers (or creators) of collective memory of a national past and how they perform this task today.

The task is then not a critique of past and current politics of remembering and forgetting, but to discover how it is precisely their solid modernist fabric that reveals changes in what is considered historical truth within shifts of political power.

Neli VASILEVA (BG) is an architect and art historian. She graduated in the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, Sofia in 2009 as an architect, and finished the MA Architectural History program of the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL in 2013. Her dissertation theme was ‘On the Instability of Monuments: Monuments in Bulgaria from the period of the communist regime 1945-1989’, with Adrian Forty as supervisor. After gaining practice in several Sofia-based offices, she currently works for the London-based Fraser Brown MacKenna Architects as a project architect. She published several articles and essays in the topic of post-war architecture.











Buzludzha Monument in Bulgaria. 


19:00 TransModern Movie Night #02 Shorts

Resort    (CZ, 2014, 26′)

At the beginning of the 1960s a secret summer getaway for the communist establishment was developed on the banks of Orlík reservoir. The architecturally unique resort was designed by the most progressive Czech names in the field – they had been purposefully imprisoned to force them to work on state projects. In the days of unrestrained capitalism following the revolution, the site came into the hands of now notorious businessmen. This nontraditional documentary portrait, suffused with an air of mystery, captures the genius loci and turbulent history of a hidden summer paradise that was left off every map.

Directed by Martin HRUBY. Producers: Background Films, UMPRUM, Czech TV.

The House Guard (EST, 2015, 26′)

The House Guard is a double portrait – of the Tallinn Linnahall concert and sports venue and its caretaker Peter, who are both bound by seclusion. It tells the story of the decline of a legendary building through one man’s eyes, and the personal story of a man against the backdrop of a vanishing building. It is a dialogue between the two.

Directed by Ingel VAIKLA. Producer: Riho Västrik.

Super-Unit (PL, 2014, 20′)

Is it possible to change people’s lives with an idea? Architect Le Corbusier thought that numbers, measures and plans can do just that. He called his buildings “machines for living”, designed to fulfill all of the basic human needs. Superjednostka (Polish for Superunit) in Katowice is one of several trails to bring his idea to life in the 20th Century. Up to three thousand people can live on 15 floors of this huge block. The lifts only stop every three floors so the residents must go through a maze of corridors and stairs in order to get to their flats. The main characters of the documentary are people living in Superjednostka and going through important moments of their lives there. This is where their emotions throb, their expectations engender, and their desires come true… or not. 762 flat doors and 762 stories. We are opening only a few of them.

Directed by Teresa CZEPIEC. Produced by Wajda Studio.

Relics of Socialist Architecture – Berlin, Bucharest, Prague (CZ, 2016)

3 MINUTES OF BUCHAREST CITY (4:20) – Impressions of the development of the architecture in Bucharest during the 50’s and the later 34 years long Ceausescu era with the impressive Ceausescu palace and the youngest architect Anca Petrescu who designed the biggest building in the world after Pentagon.

(L)OST BERLIN (4:50) –  Socialist architecture from East Berlin showing the most important buildings and places from the whole period starting with the images of bombed Berlin and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

ANATOMY OF A PLACE-LADVI PANEL HOUSE (7’) – 1 panel house in Prague district Ládví, 14 floors, anatomy of 6 identical flats showing 6 different interior designs and 6 different stories of its inhabitants.

Directed by Haruna HONCOOP.