Architecture in Global Socialism

Owen Hatherley at The Guardian:

If you rummage through boxes of postcards in Polish secondhand shops, they reveal an unexpected geography – places few Poles would now go. They’re not just from Soviet cities such as Tashkent or Novosibirsk, but Baghdad, Havana, Tripoli. The UK-based Polish architectural historian Łukasz Stanek’s book explains why this is so. A generation of eastern Europeans travelled across the “non-aligned” countries between the 1950s and the 80s – and they were there to build. In the process, the urbanisation of what was then called the “third world” was carried out by architects, planners, engineers and workers from the “second world” of eastern Europe. While they were there, they promised to do things differently. “I remember well these eastern European architects,” recalls a Ghanaian at the start of this book, “because it was the first and the last time that a white man had an African boss in Ghana.”

This is one of those books that turns a discipline upside down – the cold war, state socialism, eastern Europe and 20th-century architecture all look different in the light of its findings.

more here.