Brokers of Modernity

East Central Europe and the Rise of Modernist Architects, 1910-1950

Martin Kohlrausch

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The story of modernist architects in East Central Europe

The first half of the twentieth century witnessed the rise of modernist architects. Brokers of Modernity reveals how East Central Europe turned into one of the pre-eminent testing grounds of the new belief system of modernism. By combining the internationalism of the CIAM organization and the modernising aspirations of the new states built after 1918, the reach of modernist architects extended far beyond their established fields. Yet, these architects paid a price when Europe’s age of extremes intensified.  Mainly drawing on Polish, but also wider Central and Eastern European cases, this book delivers a pioneering study of the dynamics of modernist architects as a group, including how they became qualified, how they organized, communicated and attempted to live the modernist lifestyle themselves. In doing so, Brokers of Modernity raises questions concerning collective work in general and also invites us to examine the social role of architects today.

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Note on Translation
Abbreviations

Introduction Brokers of Modernity 
Why Modernist Architects? 
Modernist Architects and Modernity 
Thematic and Temporal Structures 

1. Modernity in Eastern Europe – East European Modernism? 
The European East – Sketches of a Projection screen 
East Central Europe – A Space of Crisis? 
The Post-Monarchic State and the Legacy of the War 
Eastern Modernity 
Conclusion 

2. Architects as Experts of the Social: A new Type entering the European Scene 
New Tasks for Architects 
Architects and the Rise of the Modern Expert 
Training Modern Architects 
The Rise of Scientific Urbanism and the Self-Empowerment of Architects 
The Lure of the Machine 
Themes of Change – Architecture as Technology: Rationalization, Planning, and Technocracy 89
Conclusion 

3. Organising New Architectural Goals 
Organising Architects in a New State 
Architecture in a New Key – the CIAM 
Self-empowerment – the CIAM and its Polish Group 
CIAM-Universalism or Eastern Fast-track? The CIAM-Ost 
Realizers – the WSM as Interface 
Conclusion 

4. Communicating Social Change through Architecture 
The Spatial Structure of the New Discourse on Architecture 
The Abstract Heritage of the First World War and the Logic of the Media 
Architectural Journals and Books as Architectural Programme 
Travelling, Gathering, Thinking Alike: Architects as Modern Men 
Communicating Problems and Solutions via Language and Exhibitions 
Conclusion 

Gallery with Plates 

5. Materialising the International Agenda: Warszawa Funkcjonalna 
The CIAM IV Moment – Politics Coming in 
Realising the Novel: The Functionalist Laboratory of Zlín 
The Idea of the Functional City 
Warszawa Funkcjonalna 
Conclusion 

6. Under Pressure: Modernist Architects and the Rise of Political Extremes 
Questioned Loyalties and Strained International Exchange 
Continuity and Rupture – the Onslaught on Warsaw 
Personal Toll and Collaboration 
Windows of Opportunity: Warsaw as a Post-catastrophic City 
Old Bonds and new Attention: Warsaw as a Realized Utopia? 2
Conclusion 

Epilogue 
Acknowledgements 
Notes 
Bibliography 
Illustration Credits 
Index 

Format: Monograph - free ebook - PDF

400 pages

ISBN: 9789461662545

Publication: March 11, 2019

Languages: English

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Martin Kohlrausch is professor of European Political History and head of the research unit Modernity and Society at the KU Leuven.
'...insightful sociopolitical study of a generation of modernist architects in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary who came of age during the Interwar Years. [...] Kohlrausch’s thoughtful account makes a significant addition to a full understanding of urbanism. Brokers of Modernity gives new life to previously neglected but no less important contributors to the transnational flows that make cities global.'
Harold L. Platt, Journal of Urban History, October 2019

 
Martin Kohlrausch’s Brokers of Modernity puts forth a solid revision of this narrative and succeeds in shifting it significantly eastward. By inserting the manifold contributions by architects from East Central Europe into the larger history of European modernism, he provides an overdue account of what had been shattered when the trans-European professional networks dissolved in the wake of the Second World War. [...] Kohlrausch presents an immensely informed study, which is based on his research of the past decade. [...] Applying the more recent concept of a ‘multi-speed Europe’ to his period of analysis, the historian masterfully balances institutional history, a history of networks, and a history of modern architecture embedded in its social-historical context.
Sarah M. Schlachetzki, H-Soz-Kult