In Architecture in Translation, Esra Akcan offers a way to understand the global circulation of culture that extends the notion of translation beyond language to visual fields. She shows how members of the ruling Kemalist elite in Turkey further aligned themselves with Europe by choosing German-speaking architects to oversee much of the design of modern cities. Focusing on the period from the 1920s through the 1950s, Akcan traces the geographical circulation of modern residential models, including the garden city—which emphasized green spaces separating low-density neighborhoods of houses surrounded by gardens—and mass housing built first for the working-class residents in industrial cities and, later, more broadly for mixed-income residents. She shows how the concept of translation—the process of change that occurs with transportation of people, ideas, technology, information, and images from one or more countries to another—allows for consideration of the sociopolitical context and agency of all parties in cultural exchanges. Moving beyond the indistinct concepts of hybrid and transculturation and avoiding passive metaphors such as import, influence, or transfer, translation offers a new approach relevant to many disciplines. Akcan advocates a commitment to a new culture of translatability from below for a truly cosmopolitan ethics in a globalizing world.
Building Modern Turkey offers a critical account of how the built environment mediated Turkey’s transition from a pluralistic (multiethnic and multireligious) empire into a modern, homogenized nation-state following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. Zeynep Kezer argues that the deliberate dismantling of ethnic and religious enclaves and the spatial practices that ensued were as integral to conjuring up a sense of national unity and facilitating the operations of a modern nation-state as were the creation of a new capital, Ankara, and other sites and services that embodied a new modern way of life. The book breaks new ground by examining both the creative and destructive forces at play in the making of modern Turkey and by addressing the overwhelming frictions during this profound transformation and their long-term consequences. By considering spatial transformations at different scales—from the experience of the individual self in space to that of international geopolitical disputes—Kezer also illuminates the concrete and performative dimensions of fortifying a political ideology, one that instills in the population a sense of membership in and allegiance to the nation above all competing loyalties and ensures its longevity.
Built around three sacred springs, the Jin Shrines complex (Jinci), near Taiyuan in Shanxi province, contains a wealth of ancient art and architecture dating back to the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127). The complex's 1,500-year-long textual record allows us to compare physical and written evidence to understand how the built environment was manipulated to communicate ideas about divinity, identity, and status. Jinci's significance varied over time according to both its patrons' needs and changes in the political and physical landscape. The impact of these changes can be read in the physical development of the site.
Using an interdisciplinary approach drawing on the research of archaeologists, anthropologists, and religious, social, and art historians, this book seeks to recover the motivations behind the creation of religious art, including temple buildings, sculpture, and wall paintings. Through an examination of building style and site organization, the author illuminates the multiplicity of meanings projected by buildings within a sacred landscape and the ability of competing patronage groups to modify those meanings with text and context, thereby affecting the identity of the deities housed within them. This study of the art and architecture of Jinci is thus about divine creations and their power to create divinity.
Winner of the 1999 Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural
During the early 1900s, Amsterdam developed an international reputation as an urban mecca when invigorating reforms gave rise to new residential neighborhoods encircling the city's dispirited nineteenth-century districts. This new housing, built primarily with government subsidy, not only was affordable but also met rigorous standards of urban planning and architectural design. Nancy Stieber explores the social and political developments that fostered this innovation in public housing.
Drawing on government records, professional journals, and polemical writings, Stieber examines how government supported large-scale housing projects, how architects like Berlage redefined their role as architects in service to society, and how the housing occupants were affected by public debates about working-class life, the cultural value of housing, and the role of art in society.
Stieber emphasizes the tensions involved in making architectural design a social practice while she demonstrates the success of this collective enterprise in bringing about effective social policy and aesthetic progress.
Eastern European prefabricated housing blocks are often vilified as the visible manifestations of everything that was wrong with state socialism. For many inside and outside the region, the uniformity of these buildings became symbols of the dullness and drudgery of everyday life. Manufacturing a Socialist Modernity complicates this common perception. Analyzing the cultural, intellectual, and professional debates surrounding the construction of mass housing in early postwar Czechoslovakia, Zarecor shows that these housing blocks served an essential function in the planned economy and reflected an interwar aesthetic, derived from constructivism and functionalism, that carried forward into the 1950s.
With a focus on prefabricated and standardized housing built from 1945 to 1960, Zarecor offers broad and innovative insights into the country’s transition from capitalism to state socialism. She demonstrates that during this shift, architects and engineers consistently strove to meet the needs of Czechs and Slovaks despite challenging economic conditions, a lack of material resources, and manufacturing and technological limitations. In the process, architects were asked to put aside their individual creative aspirations and transform themselves into technicians and industrial producers. Manufacturing a Socialist Modernity is the first comprehensive history of architectural practice and the emergence of prefabricated housing in the Eastern Bloc. Through discussions of individual architects and projects, as well as building typologies, professional associations, and institutional organization, it opens a rare window into the cultural and economic life of Eastern Europe during the early postwar period.
Three Citiesafter Hitler compares how three prewar German cities shared decades of postwar development under three competing post-Nazi regimes: Frankfurt in capitalist West Germany, Leipzig in communist East Germany, and Wrocław (formerly Breslau) in communist Poland. Each city was rebuilt according to two intertwined modern trends. First, certain local edifices were chosen to be resurrected as “sacred sites” to redeem the national story after Nazism. Second, these tokens of a reimagined past were staged against the hegemony of modernist architecture and planning, which wiped out much of whatever was left of the urban landscape that had survived the war. All three cities thus emerged with simplified architectural narratives, whose historically layered complexities only survived in fragments where this twofold “redemptive reconstruction” after Nazism had proven less vigorous, sometimes because local citizens took action to save and appropriate them. Transcending both the Iron Curtain and freshly homogenized nation-states, three cities under three rival regimes shared a surprisingly common history before, during, and after Hitler—in terms of both top-down planning policies and residents’ spontaneous efforts to make home out of their city as its shape shifted around them.
Violent acts over the past fifteen years have profoundly altered civil rituals, cultural identity, and the meaning of place in Tel Aviv. Three events in particular have shed light on the global rule of urban space in the struggle for territory, resources, and power: the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin in 1995 in the city council square; the suicidal bombing at the Dolphinarium Discothèque along the shoreline in 2001; and bombings in the Neve Shaanan neighborhood in 2003.
Tali Hatuka uses an interdisciplinary framework of urban theory and sociopolitical theory to shed light on the discourse regarding violent events to include an analysis of the physical space where these events take place. She exposes the complex relationships among local groups, the state, and the city, challenging the national discourse by offering a fresh interpretation of contesting forces and their effect on the urban environment.
Perhaps the most valuable contribution of this book is its critical assessment of the current Israeli reality, which is affected by violent events that continually alter the everyday life of its citizens. Although these events have been widely publicized by the media, there is scant literature focusing on their impact on the urban spaces where people live and meet. In addition, Hatuka shows how sociopolitical events become crucial defining moments in contemporary lived experience, allowing us to examine universal questions about the way democracy, ideology, and memory are manifested in the city.