Publication details

Thinking relationally about socialist cities : cross-border connections in Czechoslovak post-war urban planning and housing construction

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Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Planning Perspectives
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Keywords Socialist city; urban planning history; housing policies; relational urbanism; Czechoslovakia; prefabricated houses
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Description This article makes a case for a relational approach to studying the history of ‘socialist cities’ in Europe as inherently interconnected with various other places through transnational links. It attempts to contribute to historians’ debates about the socialist city and to interlink them with the project of developing a ‘global urban studies’. To do so, it brings several examples from the history of urban planning and urban development in post-war Czechoslovakia which challenge academic representations of socialist cities as specific and disconnected from places across the Iron Curtain. First, based on a review of contemporary professional literature in urban planning and architecture, the article points out some of the channels through which knowledge about and from geographically or ideologically distant places, including the ‘Western’ world, was available to Czechoslovak experts, and, especially, how this knowledge has been reflected in their own debates about housing construction and urban development in Czechoslovakia. Second, one palpable example of exchanges across the borders of the then-divided Europe is depicted through the transnational story of wooden prefabricated houses. So called Finnish houses were produced in Finland, yet they became an integral part of several cities and towns in socialist Czechoslovakia.
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