Building Solidarity under Post-Socialist Conditions

A call for papers for the conference “Building Solidarity under Post-Socialist Conditions. Postwar City Centres in Today’s Architectural and Planning Practice”, organized in Ukraine, September 2017.


Building Solidarity under Post-Socialist Conditions.
Postwar City Centres in Today’s Architectural and Planning Practice.
CAT-ference 2017 in Kyiv and Dnipro (26-29 September 2017)
Session convener: Markus Kip (TU Darmstadt)

The design of centres has always received particular attention within cities. It is symbolic for the hegemonic visions of the time and often a focus of controversies about alternative conceptions for the city. The discussions sometimes differentiate, sometimes confuse these two dimensions: What is a functional centre? What are proper aesthetics for the design of the centre? This session brings together accounts of how architectural and planning perspectives on (post-)socialist city centres have transformed until today.

From the 1950s to the 1980s, city centres built under socialist regimes were usually styled as a “stage for the socialist society” (Colomb 2007: 279) and show imprints of modernist design principles (Kip and Sgibnev 2015). After 1990, these centres have been among the first to be targeted for redevelopment. Criticized for being alternatively “boring” or exemplars for the hubris of socialist regimes, post-socialist city centres were to become more civic, prosperous, vivid, and aesthetically pleasing, as the promises of the new urban elites had it. Several years later, these hopes have often been frustrated (Weszkalnys 2007). Lack of capital investments, mismanagement, and popular discontent with neoliberal policies have contributed to a rethinking of how city centres should function and look.

In recent years, there are indications about an increased appreciation of postwar modernist city building among architects and planners (Kip and Young forthcoming). Considering international examples from socialist contexts, this session seeks to clarify current architectural and planning perspectives on the aesthetical and functional aspects of city centres. A subsequent question is whether a rethinking of the socialist modernist legacy is happening today – and, if so, in what shape and related to what interests and rationales.
Please send your abstract (max 250 words) to Markus Kip ( no later than April 8.


Colomb, Claire. 2007. “Requiem for a lost Palast. ‘Revanchist urban planning’ and ‘burdened landscapes’ of the German Democratic Republic in the new Berlin.” Planning Perspectives 22 (3): 283-323.

Kip, Markus und Wladimir Sgibnev. 2015. “Modernism and the (Post-)Socialist City.” Europa Regional 22 (1-2): 3-12.

Kip, Markus and Douglas Young. Forthcoming and available upon request. “The Paradox of Preserving Modernism. Heritage Debates at Alexanderplatz.” In: Socialist and Post-socialist Urbanisms. A Global Perspective. Lisa Drummond and Douglas Young, eds., (under review).

Weszkalnys, Gesa. 2007. “The Disintegration of a Socialist Exemplar.” Space and Culture 10 (2): 207-230.