Post-war architecture in the former state-socialist countries has recently become a prominent topic. For a long time it was viewed by the public in a dubious light and against the backdrop of the often bleak personal memories of and lives impacted by the communist regime. Recent expert studies and activities aimed at public education have, however, revealed that the architecture at that time assumed a surprisingly diverse array of forms and that there existed in the region a parallel course of development that anchors the former Eastern bloc within the wider frame of the history of world architecture. The ICONIC RUINS? exhibition thus focuses primarily on politically prominent public investment projects and looks at where the ambitions of power and the creative ideas of architects connected and where they clashed.

The rapid demise of this architecture in recent years as a result of dramatic redevelopment and radical demolitions has prompted unprecedented action on the part of the professional community and academic sphere. The exhibition therefore also tracks the current condition of post-war architecture and combines historical comparisons based on Docomomo International’s methodology with student visions for the future use and transformation of such structures, which were developed as part of a project of the same name run by the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava (Studio of Architecture II, III A3, and the Virtual Studio).

The ICONIC RUINS? exhibition seeks to reveal the parallels to be found in the architecture of the four Visegrad countries’ shared state-socialist past and to initiate a broader discussion of the immediate future of the critically at risk cultural heritage of late modernism. The exhibition is part of a large European project titled Shared Cities: Creative Momentum aimed at mapping the shared history of socialist architecture in Central Europe. The ICONIC RUINS? exhibition was created as part of Shared Cities: Creative Momentum – an international network for creative discourse at the intersection of architecture, art, urbanism and the sharing economy. From 2016 to 2020, Shared Cities is bringing together eleven partners from seven major European cities (Belgrade, Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest, Katowice, Prague and Warsaw) with the ambition of showing urban citizens that their participation and cooperation is essential for creating a pleasant and valuable urban environment. The project Shared Cities: Creative Momentum is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

Czech Centres are a contributory organisation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, established to promote the Czech Republic abroad. The network of Czech Centres abroad is an active tool of the foreign policy of the Czech Republic in the area of public diplomacy.

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