Architecture and the State, 1940s to 1970s 2-3 April 2010

editor 13. Januar 2010 Veranstaltung

Columbia University

GSAPP Architecture History and Theory

Architecture Inside/Out Symposium #02


Architecture and the State, 1940s to 1970s

2-3  April 2010


Call for Papers

The worldwide formation and reconfiguration of states in the 1940s presented architectural culture with new ideological scenarios and an increased opportunity for building and planning. From reconstruction of old states to the construction of new ones, from definitions of the limits of the sovereignty of the state to the development of international relationships and transnational organizations, models varied from the Welfare State and Social Democracy Planning to dictatorial and autarchic regimes. Arguably, in the following decades the state operated, overtly or not, as a dominant framework of social, political and cultural life at a global scale. Issues pertaining to the building of the state were also confronted through architectural strategies, such as migration of populations; ethnic diversity; urban and rural territorial management; centralization and de-centralization. In all, state initiatives like planning urban expansion or new towns, the provision of public housing and services (such as health and education), buildings for new institutions, new legislative measures in planning and building, and the international projection of a state’s image through cultural objects, reconfigured the public role of the architect and called for his or her intervention.

The intention of the symposium is to explore the dynamics between architecture, urbanism and the state during the 1940s to1970s: How did architects assess and take a position – of collaboration, critical negotiation, or resistance – vis-à-vis the apparatus of the state? What were the instruments devised, both at conceptual and practical levels, to support these positions? How did this new socio-political frame become the ground for revising the legacy of early modern architecture? In what ways were these revisions circulated, incorporated, and translated internationally? And finally, how did the architectural or urban object embody these dynamics? We call for research that helps to construct the variegated panorama of institutional initiatives, social services, public policies and architectural responses in a broad geopolitical frame that may include the post-World War II reconfiguration of states, the new postcolonial nations, different welfare models, the soviet bloc, and the works and demise of dictatorial regimes. Ultimately, our hope is to open the territory in between the instrumentality of architecture (by the state) and the political agency of architecture for historical exploration.


20 minutes paper abstracts (max. 500 words): October 1 2009

Proposals should be sent via email in WORD or PDF format to: Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein.

Acceptance notifications: November 20 2009; Paper deadline: February 1 2010


Architecture and the State, 1940s to 1970s is part of Architecture Inside/Out a forum for academic discussion organized by the doctoral students in architectural history and theory at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University. Limited financial assistance for speakers will be available upon application. The conference is supported by the GSAPP and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.