War Perspectives. Architecture and Planning in Italy and beyond (1937-1945). International Conference
21-22 January 2010
Politecnico di Milano
Department of Architecture and Planning
Faculty of Architecture and Society
The build-up to war, but more particularly the period 1937-1945 that coincided with the dramatic years of the conflicts in Europe and elsewhere in the world, meant professional practices and disciplinary knowledge had to contend with the war machine. This challenge - which can be seen as a clash or as an opportunity for exchange and reorganization - was marked by a speeding-up of the processes of modernization involving architecture, the city and the territory. This colloquium will be structured in two parts: the first proposes to investigate the period through case studies focusing on the Italian example (1940-1945); the second part will deal with the European and international panorama (1937-1945).
Among the topics to be investigated:
a. How did architects experience the war period (letters, autobiographies, informal networks, periods in exile, moves away, migrations, denials of the war experience,…)? How was the identity of architects redefined as a professional and intellectual group (places of exchange, circles, theoretical activities…)? How and through what channels was professional knowledge built up and updated (collections, magazines, reformulation of the academies and disciplines dealing with space, organization of intellectual and professional work; study trips;…)? What were the activities of architects in institutions (which institutions, which themes, proposals,…)?
b. How were the urban planning and territorial disciplines reformulated in the build-up to war and in the clash with the cultures of war? What were the experimentations in housing development projects? What were the channels through which the war triggered the circulation of architectural and urban models in Europe, with particular attention to the USA and the Soviet Union? How did technocratic culture permeate the debate on the city and the territory? What was the impact of the war economy on the drafting of planning models? What traces did the military occupation of territories have in the various theatres of war? How did the war change the landscape, particularly the urban landscape, and how was this change perceived (with particular attention devoted to the sensory perception of change)?
c. To what extent did technical culture and the new technologies transform and fertilize the architectural culture of the war period (new materials and their use, patents, typological experimentation,…)?
d. How was the relationship between art and architecture redefined and how were the premises set for the new languages of the post-war period?
Taking the conference that took place at New York University in March 2009 entitled “Front to rear: Architecture and Planning during World War II” directed by Jean Louis Cohen (www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/fineart/ifa/ArchWW2) as its point of departure, the seminar continues the reflections on the topic. The conference is aimed at scholars of history of architecture and planning, history of art, social history, economic history; history of institutions and history of technology. Proposals should be sent by email in Italian or in English to the addresses firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com no later than September 30th 2009, and should be accompanied by email address, mail address, phone and fax number, an abstract of no more than 500 words describing the subject considered in the paper and a short CV.
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