Brokers of Modernity
East Central Europe and the Rise of Modernist Architects, 1910-1950
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The story of modernist architects in East Central EuropeThe 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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Introduction Brokers of Modernity
1. Modernity in Eastern Europe – East European Modernism?
2. Architects as Experts of the Social: A new Type entering the European Scene
3. Organising New Architectural Goals
4. Communicating Social Change through Architecture
Gallery with Plates
5. Materialising the International Agenda: Warszawa Funkcjonalna
6. Under Pressure: Modernist Architects and the Rise of Political Extremes
Format: Monograph - free ebook - PDF
Publication: March 11, 2019
Beate Störtkuhl, ZfO JECES 70 | 2021 | 3
The book offers a fascinating analysis of the convoluted dynamics of the rise and fall of modernism in the “East”. […] the book is an important and very timely contribution to the history of architecture in Central Europe, and especially Poland, in the first half of the twentieth century. It reveals the transformation of architects from professionals into crucial political actors, whose expertise becomes political capital.
Emanuela Grama, Ab Imperio, 1/2021
In this original study of modernism in interwar east central Europe, Martin Kohlrausch sets an ambitious agenda to study modernist architects as a group of experts. Noting that architects are typically studied individually or in small groups, he brings a fresh perspective to the topic by stepping away from the traditional concerns of architectural history such as style and focuses instead on group formation and the emergence of a shared professional discourse. […] The analysis of CIAM as a group shows how the presence of these architects, especially those from Poland, contributed to and shaped the discourse of CIAM and architectural modernism in ways that an analysis of individual contributions could never uncover.
his truly interdisciplinary book 'Brokers of Modernity', Martin Kohlrausch seeks
to rectify this geographical asymmetry in architectural scholarship by placing
the new, or significantly reshaped, post-1918 nation-states of Poland,
Czechoslovakia, and Hungary at the heart of his narrative. Kohlrausch has a
larger goal, however: to investigate modernist architecture’s group formation.
[….] The book’s final chapter follows the struggles and ultimate fates of
Polish, Czechoslovak, and Hungarian architects through World War II and stands
out as an example of extraordinary historical scholarship.
Christina E. Crawford, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 79.3, September 2020, https://doi.org/10.1525/jsah.2020.79.3.344
Little-known centers of modernity have long coalesced around Eastern Europe. Over the past three decades, their stories have begun to be rediscovered.
“Due to more than 40 years of the Cold War, it has largely been forgotten—or never fully realized—how formative the eastern perspective has been for the arts and for architecture in the first half of the 20th century, ” historian Martin Kohlrausch observes in his book, Brokers of Modernity.
vc_on, Maria Wiesner, September 4, 2020
Far too little has been published about Polish modernism or urbanism
outside the country; Kohlrausch is absolutely right to try to mend the
imbalance. What he has produced is a useful look at Polish modernism and
urbanism set into its regional context that will, one hopes, begin to shift our
shared view a little further to the east.
Christopher Long, Urban History Volume 47, Special Issue 3, August 2020 https://doi.org/10.1017/S0963926820000395
Kohlrauschs Studie über die ostmitteleuropäischen Architekten und
Architektinnen der Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM)
als Avantgarde sozialer Architektur schließt eine Forschungslücke. Als
Historiker betrachtet Kohlrausch vierzig Jahre Professionsgeschichte und ihre
historischen Bedingungen in deduktiver Perspektivierung und formt die
Untersuchung der Akteure, ihrer Ausbildung, Institutionen und Werte zu einem
Spiegel des Nation-building vor allem in Polen. […] Architekten und
Architektinnen als Broker zu betrachten heißt, sie innerhalb ihrer
Netzwerke als zentrale Akteure zu erforschen.
Regine Heß, sehepunkte, Ausgabe 20 (2020), Nr. 7/8
Martin Kohlrausch setzt in seinen
empirischen Kapiteln sein Exposé sehr gekonnt um: Er charakterisiert zunächst
den neuen Typ des Architekten als sich selbst so verstehenden, teilweise als
solchen anerkannten sozialpolitischen Experten. […] Die Arbeit rückt demnach
nicht nur die Gewichte in der Wahrnehmung dessen, was Architekturmoderne
überhaupt ist, zurecht, sondern weist die beträchtliche diskursive Kraft von
Modernisierungsbewegungen in Zentraleuropa nach. Dass die polnischen Architekten
durch den nationalsozialistischen Krieg zu einem Drittel den Tod erlitten,
gehört ebenso zum Gesamtbild wie der von Kohlrausch souverän erbrachte
Nachweis, wie viele konstruktive Impulse aus dem untersuchten Raum auf die
Entstehung der Disziplin Städtebau ausgingen.
Clemens Zimmermann, Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, 27.4.2020
'...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