--> No. 13

Collage Europa

Periode 2004 / Project Collage Europa / Opdrachtgever NAi / Locatie Rotterdam / Met Peter Bilak, Theo Hauben, Wies Sanders


The socialist city 1948-1990 Urbanists debate whether there are fundamental differences between a capitalist and a socialist city. On one side urbanists claim that for instance collective ownership and centralized planning in socialist countries defined a crucial difference with capitalist cities driven by market competition and local decision-making. More recently, other urbanists claim that no such thing is the case forces of urbanisation, industrialisation and networking are the same for all cities, from one political regime to another. Political regimes only have an minor influence in correcting the basic language of urban morphology.

The maps show these 'socialist corrections' on a separate layer on top of the map. The layer highlights the socialist morphology of 13 European cities that were - in one way or another - under the influence of Sovjet communism roughly between 1948 and 1990. Included are capital cities, harbour cities, industrial cities, trade cities and new cities in 8 different countries, showing both the differences as the similarities between these former socialist cities.

 

Icons

1. The Lenin Street/Square

The socialist version of Main Street, every socialistcity recalled the main street to Lenin Street. Some named it Stalin Avenue orthe Red Army square. After 1989 the streets were renamed again.

2. The Building of Power

Strategically located in the middle of the city or inthe first socialist expansion of the city is the building of the people in power: the party building, the military office or the secret service. Since1989 these buildings are reused for public use or are still waiting for newuses.

3. The House of Culture

The ideology was also transmitted through educationand culture, the latter ones in special monumental buildings for gathering. Some houses of culture are since 1989 in private hands.

4. The Magistrale

An urban boulevard to host masses of people on marches or parades, usually unifying party-buildings, offices and houses of culture. The Magistrale as a main boulevard still exist.

5. The Monument

A tribute to the leaders and martyrs of socialism, only a few of these monuments survived post-socialism.

6. The TV Tower

An icon of propaganda and technology at the same time, major cities are still dominated by a grand architectural TV tower on top of the mountain or in the centre of the city, sometimes added with a restaurant on top. The TV towers still exist.

 

Economy

7. Heavy Industry

Heavy industry was at the core of Marxist ideology: control of industry and labour was crucial for the construction of a socialistsociety. Residential areas, recreation and infrastructure were spin offs and parts of the industrial centre. Since 1989 a lot of sites have lost theirglobal economic meaning, leaving cities with huge contaminated sites and unemployed proletarians.

8. Collective Network

Incorporated in housing plans and also ideologically correct were the collective district heating and the extension of public transport systems such as trolleybusses, metros and trams. The power station was usually connected to the industrial zone that produced a surplus of heat. After 1989 these systems deteriotate, are privatised and modernized by western companies.

9. Exhibition of Socialist Progression

Western countries showed off their competence on temporary world expos, but some socialist cities had permanent exhibitions of the socialist innovations in industry, astronomy and agriculture.

 

Housing

10. The New City: Socialist Realism

Only for a relative short period in time the socialistrealistic style dominated the lay out of the new city, until 1954 (1932-1954). It is characterised by the reference to classical art and symbolism in architecture and a monumental design. The style was soon to be abolished by Chroestjew, who introduced the production modernism as part of the economical plan.

11. The New City: Production Modernism

The new industrialised city or Plattenbau dominates the building-production from the mid fifties onwards till 1990. The standard production resulted in standard and inflexible floor plans and housing-blocks. These housing-quarters have only a few access roads and the housing blocks are freestanding in a wide open green area. At present day in some cities the dwellings in these quarters are privately owned by their occupants, in other cities the occupants have left the area uninhabited.

 

Recreation

12. People's Park

The people's park was a collective meeting point withan open-air theatre, recreational facilities as sporting, rowing, a public restaurant etc. It can also be a union or 'Verein' park.

13. Pioneers Park

A special park is the pioneers park with the children's railway, a miniature but real version of the tram where children were driving real trams on time schedules and work on machines. In several cities these trams are still driven by children, on time!

14. Sport Stadium

The show place built for the physical efforts of (Olympic) athletics.

 

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