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Progress Through Architecture. Two Modernisms?

  • Magdalena Matysek-ImielińskaEmail author
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Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)

Abstract

In recent decades, contemporary modernisation practices, as well as modernist architecture itself, have been the subjects of a severe critical narrative, mainly due to their radical ambitions of implementing an imagined social order and attempts at introducing social change. Their utopian visions have been exposed. In my analysis of the Warsaw Housing Cooperative, I ask whether modernity is, after all, worth defending. Modernist architects believed that they had the tools for implementing great social change by shaping the urban ways of living. When analysing the International Congresses of Modernist Architecture, and especially the first Congress in La Sarraz, I show how the architects’ ambitions and goals differed. The discrepancies between them make us seek answers on whether architecture is a goal in itself or a tool for achieving social goals. The answer to this question leads to another one: is the idea of social housing estates, developed during the period of architects’ great faith in the agency of architecture and urban planning, worthy of a contemporary redefinition and analysing in the context of today’s developing cities? Here, I reconstruct the idea of a social housing estate proposed by Barbara Brukalska, the modernist architect forgotten even in Poland. Only a few copies of her 1948 brochure, Zasady społeczne projektowania osiedli mieszkaniowych [Social rules of housing estates design] have survived (Poland’s communist authorities demanded its entire print run to be destroyed) and it has never been reissued. Still, it can be an extremely inspiring source for contemporary urban studies researchers, animators of public life, or urban activists.

Keywords

International Congress of Modernist Architecture Social housing estate Neighbourhood unit Residential housing Modernist architecture Urban planning 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Historical and Pedagogical ScienceInstitute of Cultural Studies, University of WrocławWrocławPoland

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