The last decade saw a rapid influx of histories on architectural production and urban development in the postwar state socialist world. Researchers have documented how city-planning and mass housing programmes in individual countries helped to forge diverse and often competing projects of socialist modernity. Others expanded their scope beyond Eastern Europe and argued, within the broader geopolitical contexts of the Cold War and decolonisation, that mobilities of architectural expertise, technology, and resources mediated the expansion of the state socialist interests in the Global South. Meanwhile one crucial area remains largely under-researched: the ways of organisation and management of architectural production and labour within the socialist world – the institutional structures, hierarchies and networks, paths of interaction of architectural science, research, planning, design and construction in and between the socialist countries, as well as their relationships with power brokers.

The workshop aims to survey existing and emerging scholarship on institutional organisation, governance, and development of state socialist planning, design and construction. We are interested in reconstructing various institutions comprising the socialist world’s building cultures. We invite participants to discuss the institutional connections and interactions between the architectural profession and the governing structures at different levels: from municipalities and republics, to the state and inter-state level. Modi of architectural production beyond or subversive to the established hierarchies, or taking place in liminal spaces of official institutional landscapes are also of particular interest.

The workshop is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – project number 502254857.


FORMS AND INNER WORKINGS OF INSTITUTIONS involved in state socialist design and construction: from design and research institutes with thousands of employees, planning departments of construction plants, to architectural cooperatives, private architectural offices, and kitchen collectives; their interconnection and relations with architectural science and construction industries.

REGIMES AND SITES OF INTERACTION of architectural profession within the socialist world: architectural congresses, conferences, competitions, exhibitions, periodicals, samizdat publishing, and exchange projects; formal and informal cooperation and collaborations, architectural associations, circles, groups, unions within and between the state socialist countries.

Agencies responsible for managing PROFESSIONAL KNOWLEDGE, its procurement, accumulation, production, exchange, and circulation: architectural academies, research institutes, publishing agencies, museums, and exhibition platforms.

Relationships between ARCHITECTURAL INSTITUTIONS AND THE POLITICAL BODIES of state socialism; the hierarchies and subordinations and regimes of interaction on various levels; formal and informal infrastructures of control and permissiveness, restrictions and laissez-faire, subjugations and affirmative action, constraints and opportunities, entrapment and mobilities. 

Institutions responsible for INTERGENERATIONAL EXCHANGE and cultural memories: heritage management bodies, monument restoration and conservation, civil initiatives for monument protection, professional unions and organisations and their socialist and international networks and platforms. 

Continuity of socialist norms and institutional bodies: POST-SOCIALIST ‘DURABILITIES’ of socialist architectural production.

ARCHIVES of state socialist design and construction organisations.