Bratislava is a characteristic example of a city that was decisively shaped by the ideas of the 20th century. Over two-thirds of its current area was built in the spirit of the principles of modern architecture and urban planning across the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet these urban or architectonic conceptions, paradoxically, largely formulated the urban structure of Bratislava not within the sense of, but directly against the idea of planned aims. The reason for this contradiction between the ideal and the realized was largely the result of sharp discrepancies in social development under various political orders, yet also through competition between local ideas of the creation of the city and the plans of official representatives towards the form of a national (or regional) capital. The project focuses on the identification and evaluation of specific places within the urban structure that represent the investigated phenomenon of an unintended city. Compiled into a monograph publication, the acquired knowledge will then serve as a reference point in the process of working with the urban structure of Bratislava. With further generalization, it will create an architectonic-urban typology of key situations influencing the form of the city in the 20th century.
The collection was created as a part of the research project APVV-16-0584.
ATRIUM The Architecture of Totalitarian Regimes in Urban Managements is an ambitious project which aims to put a key element of twentieth-century European history, heritage and memory into greater focus. It is ambitious in its scope but also in the extent and nature of the partnership.
The project is made up of 18 partners from 11 different countries from the area of South East Europe. The partners come from Italy, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Greece, Croatia, Serbia, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and all share a desire to focus on the architectural heritage of the different totalitarian regimes which they have experienced in the twentieth century from a cultural and historical point of view. Through ATRIUM, researches, economic studies, documentations & tools will be prepared to submit a specific dossier to the Council of Europe to be acknowledged by it as European Cultural Route. This will also be a leverage for the economic valorisation of the Partners' territories.
The line outlined in the project is followed by the current research of the Department of Architecture focused on architecture and urban planning during the war-torn Slovak Republic (1939 - 1945) and in post-war socialist Czechoslovakia.
The concepts of social politics in the field of architecture and construction developed in 1930s were fully and massively applied after the World War II. This trend had universal character and was present after the first decade of post-war renewal, both in Western and Eastern Europe. Housing, schools, public services as culture and health care services that have been built at that time, represent till today core of the everyday architecture. In the context of the authoritarian socialist state was mass housing and connected public services one of the key tools of strengthening the trust of citizens in state. Building of large modern housing estates become one of the main instruments of the implementation of the idea of welfare state.
Project: VEGA č. 2/0114/21
Project duration: 01. 01. 2021 / 31. 12. 2023
DOCOMOMO (Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighborhoods of the Modern Movement)
is an international organization aimed at research, documentation, promotion and preservation of Modern Movement architecture. Founded in 1990 in the Netherlands, Slovakia was one of the co-funding members. Today it operates from the headquarter in Barcelona and associates more than 40 national working groups.
The Slovak working group is one of the associations under Slovak Association of Architects. The working group members (architects, historians, theoreticians and critics of architecture) investigate and promote Modern Movement architecture and their activities include the elaboration of the national register of MoMo monuments. The international register currently implies 101 works of architecture from the whole Slovakia and it is permanently being developed. Its growth mirrors the particular attention and increase of investigation activities of this organization as it follows the program topics of international DOCOMOMO conferences.
The list of works of architecture in focus documented by the Slovak DOCOMOMO working group grows in phases. The primary register of interwar monuments of Modern Movement, the so-called Top register, was formed as yearly as 1994 and it included 29 key interwar architecture masterpieces of Modern Movement in Slovakia. Subsequently, it followed the general focus of the DOCOMOMO International that encompassed the modern heritage of the entire 20th century.
The further entries to the register were realized on the basis of thematic homeworks specified by the international commission for registers. Under these guidelines the modern architecture for sport and leisure (2003), works of late modernism (2004), family houses and villas (2005), modern works of unique regional or national importance (2006), buildings for education (2007) works of architecture representing certain relation to machine and industry (2008), works of architecture reflecting connection of modernism and power (2009) or modern architecture of medical buildings (2010). In 2015, another 30 buildings were added to the international register. The International Registry is accessible on the MOMOVE virtual platform. In parallel with the creation of the international register, the national docomomo register is being built. All works that are part of it are presented on the page of the register of modern architecture.
In Slovakia, we use the word "Industriál" (noun) as a term covering mainly modern industrial architecture (production buildings), but also the various technical works, including their technological equipment, beginning with the transition from manufactory production to industrial production (in Slovakia as late as the second half of the 19th century). The historical layer represented by the modern Industriál is not only a proof of the economic and technical development of the country during the industrial revolutions, but also a cultural and social phenomenon. It has co-shaped the urban environment and has also, particularly in some regions, significantly changed the rural landscape. Its importance has only been fully acknowledged when it all started to fade away – through active demolition, or its demise through dilapidation. The significance of Industriál as a cultural heritage has thus come into the foreground.
Before 1989, modern industrial heritage fell under the label of 'technical monuments'. Research in this field was reduced to older history and folk technical construction. Not only because the monuments of modern industry were still too young to fulfil the heritage value defined at the beginning of the 20th century by Alois Riegl as "alterswert" ('value of age'), but also from an ideological point of view. During the post-war decades of Czechoslovakia's authoritarian political regime, we uncritically accepted the narrative of Slovakia as a traditionally rural country. Moreover, we cast capitalist industrialists in the role of exploiters. But it was they who co-created the foundations of modern social politics. Yet in research we have still marginalised the industrial heritage.
Modern Industriál is still officially covered by the term ‘technical monument’ in the Slovak heritage discourse, but the methods of its research and assessment are evolving and adapting to the international discourse. Also, in the history and theory of modern architecture, in the last two decades this topic has been pursued much more strongly. It is indisputable that Industriál has played an important role in the development of modern architecture in Slovakia in terms of the use of innovative structures and materials, but also in the use of formal means of architectural expression in terms of the reduction of ornament, or in the rethinking of new functional units - industrial complexes. The interpenetration of these influences in architecture was part of the crystallization of modern principles in architectural design. After all, it is no coincidence that the production halls of the Coburg factory in Trnava (Werner Theiss and Siegfried Jaksch, 1920–1921) are considered to be the very first buildings of modern architecture in Slovakia. In connection with the hydroelectric station in Dolné Kočkovce (Jindřich Merganc, Václav Houdek, 1935), we are accustomed to emphasise the unique poetics of this otherwise utterly functional technical work. Equally characteristic is the emphasis on the application of industrial elements in the building of the headquarters of the Slovak Art Association in Bratislava (Alois Balán, Jiří Grossmann, 1925), a breakthrough building of modernism in Slovakia.
The "Industriál" collection was created as a joint project of the Department of Architecture at the Institute of History of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the association Čierne diery, combining buildings of this type from the Register of Modern Architecture and the portfolio of Čierne diery. Since 2014, the association has worked to popularize architecture, which, despite a partial improvement in the situation, is still overlooked in Slovakia. Industrial buildings, known from the art prints and books published by Čierne diery, but also the database of photographs outside them, will gradually expand the Register.
The specific character of Industriál has resulted in the fact that we can also find works that are outside the time frame of the 20th century, built before 1900, or buildings whose formal aspect does not reflect the time of their creation, submitting to their own unique function, such as the unique herb drying plant in Hanušovce nad Topľou from the 1930s.
Women’s creativity since the Modern Movement – MoMoWo – is a large-scale cooperation project co-funded by the European Union Creative Culture Programme under the Culture Sub-Programme. In the years 2014 - 2018 it was covered by the Politecnico di Torino (Italy). The Faculty of Architecture and Design of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava and researchers of the Department of Architecture of the Institute of Architecture of the Slovak Academy of Sciences also collaborated on the project.
MoMoWo focused on women's work in design, architecture and urban planning, landscape architecture and engineering. The aim of the project was to highlight the role of women, who have so far been neglected in Europe's cultural heritage. In addition - understanding history as a living material - the project seeks to promote the value of works designed by women, both past and present, and encourage future generations of architects and designers.
The project was directly followed by research of the work of women architects in Slovakia in the 20th century, realised at the Department of Architecture of the Institute of History of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. The result was a series of exhibitions and publications that presented the architectural work of the most important women representatives of Slovak architecture. Exploring the work of women in Slovak architecture is also one of the basic research areas of the Department of Architecture of the Institute of History SAS.
The School of Arts and Crafts in Bratislava belongs to one of the key topics in the modern history of Slovakia. Its importance clearly exceeds our local space, as in its time it was one of the most advanced schools of art in Europe. As part of a wider cultural movement, it brought together important personalities, who transformed Slovakia into a modern country through countless initiatives and collaborations. However, the Bratislava School of Arts and Crafts almost fell into oblivion.
Even many people from Bratislava do not know that such a unique school operated in their city in the interwar period. Nowadays, only a few will remember that the Slovak University of Technology has not always been located on Vazova Street and that the architects and members of the ŠUR curatorium were, for example, architects Emil Belluš, Klement Šilinger and Friedrich Weinwurm (or that the latter was a close collaborator of Antonín Hořejš, one of the co-founders of ŠUR). Through various connections, a sometimes denser, sometimes looser network of modernism is created, the traces of which can still be reconstructed even today. This interactive map tries to show the footprint of the ŠUR in Bratislava, while pointing out the activities and connections between the direct actors of the ŠUR and the wider cultural and economic circle.
This interactive map is the result of cooperation between the Slovak Museum of Design-SCD and the Department of Architecture Institute of History SAS and was created within the project Design & Innovation, Cross-border cooperation of design institutions in the digital age, which is co-financed by the European Social Development Fund under the program Interreg V-A Slovak Republic - Austria 2014 - 2020.