Central Europe – Modernism and the modern movement as viewed through the lens of town planning and building 1895 - 1939


This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.This thesis sets out to re-locate and redefine the historical arguments around the development of the Modern Movement in architecture. It investigates the development of architectural modernism in Central Europe from 1895-1939 in the towns and cities of the multinational Habsburg Empire, in a creative milieu in which opposition, contrast and difference were the norm. It argues that the evolution of the Modern Movement through the independent nations that arose from the Empire constituted an early and significant engagement with urbanisation, planning and architectural modernism that has been largely overlooked by western scholarship. By reviewing the extant literature in discussion with Central European authorities and by drawing upon a little known range of sources, this thesis brings into focus the role of key individuals such as Plečnik, Fabiani and Kotěra and it explores the significance of developments in town planning in places like Zagreb and Ljubljana. In restoring some of this missing detail and revisiting some of the key sites, the thesis reveals how Central European individuals made early and significant contributions to the development of architectural modernism and the Modern Movement that have hitherto received little critical acknowledgement. What this research reveals is how these figures developed what can be seen as local solutions, rooted in the context and culture of individual towns and cities and their unique histories. However more significantly, this thesis also demonstrates that these independent initiatives were formed with an understanding of - and in response to - wider national and international developments in the field of architectural modernism. In this connection, the thesis can be regarded as part of an emerging academic effort to redress the history of the Modern Movement and an attempt to set in motion a raft of suggestion for further research into this rich field of cultural endeavour

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