Vortrag im Rahmen von Peer-Review Colloquium
Mittwoch, 14.11.2018 / 20.00 h
TU Wien, Seminarraum Argentinierstraße 8, EG
Architecture in the World Socialist System: The Case of Baghdad, Iraq
This talk discusses multiple genealogies of architecture’s globalization during the cold war seen through the lens of socialist internationalism and the Non Aligned Movement.
Against the dominant reduction of architecture’s globalisation to “Westernization,” I argue that the world-wide mobility of architecture was accelerated after World War II by competing visions of global cooperation. Among the most consequential of such visions was that of the World Socialist System, launched by the Soviet Union as an alternative to the Western-dominated “globalism” of the 1970s and to the splits among socialist countries in the previous decade. Rather than a utopia or an ideology, this talk considers the World Socialist System as a set of specific instruments of foreign trade which regulated the circulation of design and construction practices between Comecon countries and countries in Africa and Asia. By focusing on Iraq between the coup of Qasim (1958) and the end of the first Gulf war (1991), I will show how such instruments of the World Socialist System as employment contracts, currency exchange rates, and barter agreements offered opportunities and constraints for architects, planners and construction companies from socialist countries. This argument will be made by revisiting the master plans of Baghdad delivered by a Polish office (1967, 1973); housing neighbourhoods by Romanian contractors; infrastructure in Iraqi cities by Bulgarian, East German and Soviet design institutes; public buildings by Yugoslav firms; and teaching curricula at the Department of Architecture in Baghdad to which architects from Czechoslovakia contributed. Since the results of these engagements have continued to impact the conditions of urbanization in Iraq until today, this talk is not an archaeology of failed attempts at architecture’s globalization, but rather an alternative genealogy of these processes.
Der Vortrag wird vom future.lab mit Mitteln des invite!-Programms der Fakultät für Architektur und Raumplanung unterstützt.