Two papers on MODSCAPES’ case studies have been presented at the DOCOMOMO Germany International Conference in Berlin.

Reuse of Modernist Buildings, 29th of February 2019, Berlin

Please download the proceedings here:

The Afterlife of Fascist Architecture and Town Planning. The Case of Italy’s Pontine Plain and Colonial Libya.
Vittoria Capresi

ABSTRACT: Which kind of afterlife can we imagine for buildings built as an expression of a political ideology? How much should we keep of the political memories alive, still avoiding to stimulate the cult of the past? How is it possible to functionally reuse political architecture?

The new towns and settlements founded under Mussolini in Italy and in the colonies materialise an absolute act of creation. The fact of overlapping an urban design on the territory can be considered as the ultimate inception of a concept – theoretical, formal, and political – which was planned to definitively change the territory and contribute the building up of a political and territorial ideology.

The main message was that of power: the buildings and town planning created by the Fascist State offered the perfect background to the political propaganda, showing the absolute bond between ideology and its physical representation.
What happened after the end of Fascism? Were the buildings related to power, stripped of their political meanings?
While the single houses mainly still maintain their original use, both in Libya (survey 2009) and in Italy, what happened to the structures of power?

The paper will introduce some theoretical thoughts to discuss the topic of the afterlives of fascist architecture. The idea of functional reuse will be questioned, using examples from the Italian fascism, in particular the new settlements in the Pontine Plain and in colonial Libya. A focus will be also on the international students workshop which took place in Pontinia (Pontine Plain, south of Rome) in Mai 2018, which aimed, among others, at investigating the perception today of this political architecture.

The afterlife_Capresi_online modscapes

The Reconceptualization of Modernist Structures and Planning Principles in Post-Socialist Rural Regions.
Emily Bereskin, Christoph Muth

ABSTRACT: Through a case-study analysis of Germany’s Southern Oderbruch, this paper investigates the shifting conditions of modernist planning and architecture in post-socialist rural regions. It considers both the reuse of individual modernist structures as well as the current reconceptualization of modernist planning principles for the area today.

The guiding political principles of the German Democratic Republic gave equal priority to the development and settlement of rural areas as it did to urban and town planning, resulting in intense centralized efforts to construct new, modern rural centers. After 1952, and following the Soviet model, agricultural land and production processes were collectivized into agricultural production collectives—Landwirtschaftliche Produktionsgenossenschaften (LPGs), reconfiguring the customary spatial arrangements of rural life. Rather than the traditional regional settlements which often paired single-family homes, gardens, farm buildings, and fields on one plot, agricultural production and processing were scaled up and consolidated into immense industrial structures. Workers were housed in multi-family apartment buildings, and rural centers were outfitted with cultural, educational, and recreational facilities formerly only found in towns.

Following German Reunification and the dissolution of the LPGs, the area has undergone major social, structural, and spatial changes. Regional agricultural production has been consolidated under fewer, larger corporations; rural centers are shrinking and are facing new challenges such as long-term unemployment and aging populations. Based on policy and site-analysis as well as interviews with local actors, this paper considers the fate and reuse of the LPG structures within this new structural transformation, analyzing the legal and economic frameworks dictating their re-use as well as the actors and strategies shaping these new spaces. The paper first considers representative examples of reuse from the categories of housing, production centers, and cultural buildings. It then turns to consider the reinterpretation of the modernist rural planning principles for the guiding of rural centers in the area today.

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