Prof. Dr. Jörg Stabenow

Comparing Modes of Reception: Architectural Modernism in the New States of Central Eastern Europe after 1918

From a comprehensive point of view, architectural modernism appears to have spread uniformly within and outside of Europe. But from the perspective of the individual countries, it was the result of complex processes which occurred under varying conditions and produced very different outcomes. What varieties of modernism were presented and received in each country? How were they related to other architectural trends and schools in the respective countries? What types of buildings were suited to these progressive architectural concepts? Which contractors and societal groups supported architectural modernism? The character of the modernity in each country was uniquely shaped by the contributions of individual protagonists as well as the cultural, social and political constellations in the countries themselves. Comparing these specific profiles with one another can sharpen our understanding of the underlying processes.

This paper offers a comparative view of the modes of reception of architectural modernism in three successor states of Austria-Hungary after 1918: the Republic of Czechoslovakia, the kingdom of Hungary and the Croatian territory in the kingdom of Yugoslavia. The example of Czechoslovakia reveals a particularly widespread and sustained acceptance of the new architectural idiom. There the dialogue with international modernism began so early that the term "transfer" only applies to a limited extent. In contrast, it took longer for architectural modernism to gain acceptance and become established in authoritarian Hungary. But even there, the new architectural style diversified and broadened greatly during the 1930s. Among the national centres in the multiethnic state of Yugoslavia, the Croatian city of Zagreb was perhaps the one place which most enthusiastically embraced the modern architectural movement, whereby a young generation of foreign-educated architects played a decisive role.

By comparing these examples, one can discern — despite their obvious similarities — significant differences in how modernism was received in each of these three countries. This paper aims to elucidate the different profiles of modernist reception, thereby offering a distant viewpoint on the modes of reception in Palestine.

Apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Stabenow is currently acting as chair of Theory and History of Modern Architecture at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. After completing his studies in Art History in Hamburg and Munich, he earned his doctorate at the University of Hamburg in 1994. From 1995 to 1998, he worked as a research consultant at the Saxon State Office for Monument Preservation in Dresden. In 1998 he began working at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence (Max Planck Society) as a research fellow, and starting in 2000, as a research associate. He gained his habilitation at the University of Augsburg in 2007. His research interests include architecture, architectural theory and urban development in early and contemporary modernity.

Selected publications: Jože Plečnik. Städtebau im Schatten der Moderne, 1996; Architekten wohnen. Ihre Domizile im 20. Jahrhundert, Berlin 2000; "Interpret des Technischen. Hans Poelzig als Industriearchitekt", in: W. Pehnt, M. Schirren (eds.): Hans Poelzig. 1869 bis 1936. Architekt Lehrer Künstler, 2007; Die Architektur der Barnabiten. Raumkonzept und Identität in den Kirchenbauten eines Ordens der Gegenreformation 1600–1630, 2011.