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.
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.