After War: New Architectural Landscapes and Public Spaces of Ruined Cities

3 March

16.00 CET

"The city without a face: the spatial identity of Minsk after World War II":

Marina Semenchenko, architect, Master of Urban Studies (KTH, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm), lecturer at the European College of Liberal Arts in Belarus.

The image of contemporary Minsk was predominantly shaped during its post-war reconstruction, or rather, almost-complete reconstruction (Bohn, 2013). In spite of this, the problem of the city's faint identity emerged much earlier and became relevant again in the post-Soviet period. I will discuss how Minsk's spatial identity developed and try to answer why "Minsk is one of the dullest cities in the world" (a reference which the writer Stefan Heym attributes to Bertolt Brecht).

"Post-war reconstruction of Stalingrad: monumental and humanitarian aspects" :
Dmitry Boyko, urban planner, Director of GeoKlever (Volgograd), visiting researcher at the Academy for Spatial Research (Hannover, Germany).

Stalingrad became the city-symbol of post-war reconstruction of the USSR— its history of destruction and reconstruction became a legend. The urban development task was to form and strengthen the symbolic status of the city, which also formed the basis of the identity of contemporary Volgograd. The focus of the nationwide reconstruction task was almost exclusively on the formation of the monumental ensemble of the central part of Stalingrad.

For both talks, simultaneous translation from Russian into English is provided.

During the Second World War, many cities of Eastern and Central Europe were almost completely destroyed. As a result of the large-scale combat operations, "the historical continuity of these cities, expressing itself in a set of buildings and structures, was disrupted, cut short," according to Karl Schlegel. In the post-war years, in some cases, attempts were made to reconstruct historic quarters and buildings. But plans for the restoration of historic architectural landscapes were often sacrificed in favour of grandiose projects to create the new socialist cities. The very architecture of the new avenues, and the scale of the memorial complexes, was designed to commemorate the great war victory of the Soviet people. In this context, entire cities were transformed into memory sites.
The reconstruction of cities in Eastern and Central Europe that followed the collapse of the USSR was driven by far less dramatic social and political transformations. But the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Socialist Bloc was also accompanied by bloody armed conflicts, as a result of which some cities were almost completely destroyed. For example, during the post-Soviet years the city of Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic, was nearly ruined and later rebuilt. The entirely destroyed city of Aghdam or Shusha, which came under Azerbaijani control during the Second Karabakh War, has yet to be rebuilt.
On the example of war-torn cities, we want to discuss how their reconstruction took place, how the memory of the war was integrated into new architectural landscapes and public spaces, and what was preserved (restored) from the old city. How the memory of war is reflected not in monuments, but in the urban architectural landscapes (destroyed, reconstructed and newly created).
In the discussion, we intend to focus on various issues and aspects of the reconstruction of architectural landscapes and public spaces in the cities damaged during the wars and armed conflicts.

In the discussions we would like to emphasize the following questions and topics:
How is the memory of war reflected in new architectural landscapes and public spaces?
"Hero Cities" and "Cities of Labour Valour": How are symbolic statuses reflected in the memorial and architectural landscapes of cities?
How were urban regeneration plans created; who are the main social and political actors with the power to create and implement them?
How do these projects take into account (or not) pre-war landscapes and planning?
Rebuilding or building a new city? Is the reconstruction of a ruined city an opportunity for creating a new modern landscape and infrastructure, or a plan for its regeneration?
What are the specifics of planning of public spaces in war-torn cities?

For any questions please feel free to contact info@cisr-berlin.org