Central Library was built in 1973 as part of the Paradise Circus complex, a modernist city center redevelopment project that was never completed. At the beginning of the 21st century, when architectural historians and activists were hailing the John Madin-designed edifice as one of the finest examples of British Brutalism, Birmingham’s city officials were already planning its demolition, referring to it as an eyesore on the city’s skyline.
It is indisputable that the crazy years of Viennese Actionism had a profound influence on Wolf D. Prix and Helmut Świczinski, partners of the architectural bureau “Coop Himmelb(l)au”, founded in 1968. Their penchant for introducing disruption and defragmentation, as well as a lack of apparent harmony, in their projects, is most evident in the superstructure of the Falkenstrasse building, a prime example of deconstructivism in architecture.
The documentary takes us on a journey through five socialist buildings and architectural icons that witnessed the historical turmoil of the 20th century: the Moscow State University, the Palace of Serbia in Belgrade, the now defunct Palace of the Republic in Berlin, the National Palace of Culture in Sofia and the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest.
What was it like working as an architect during the communist era, and what changed after the fall of communism? This 1989 documentary focuses on the transformation taking place in Poland at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s.
The history of the Palace of Culture and Science, and the surrounding area, has been the subject of fierce debate for many years. What is the role of this building and the space around it in a dynamically developing and built-up city center? This short film from 1992 features a lot of interesting footage, documenting the ideas submitted for a competition to develop the heart of Warsaw’s city center, aimed at solving the problem of the ‘repulsive emptiness of Defilady Square’.
The 1990s in all former Eastern Bloc countries proved to be a period of great economic, political, social, and moral transformation. Polish society also took an accelerated course in capitalism and faced a rapid transition from collectivism to individualism. The art and entertainment of the time illustrate the increasing social stratification. The fabulous wealth of the newly rich was juxtaposed with the deepening unemployment of other parts of the population.
Stockholm’s Hammarby Sjöstad neighborhood and its urban plans created in the 1990s have become a model for city design all over the world. In his design work, the film’s protagonist – urban planner Jan Inghe (1944-2005), successfully combined modernism with a particular focus on residents.
Observing changes taking place in cities around the world, one would think that Copenhagen, consistently pursuing its development objectives, has become an ideal place. Sustainability, an eco-friendly approach to design and to the functioning of society, innovative solutions in architecture, and an eye for improving the quality of life of residents – that is how the Danish capital describes itself.