This 30 CATS final-year undergraduate Advanced Option module explores the politics of building and urban planning in Europe from 1848 to 1989. This period is often referred to as one of high modernism. That is, it saw various attempts by architects, engineers, urban planners, administrators, and scientists to reorder society on an ambitious scale, and thereby eliminate social conflict. Such activity was appealing across political spectrums and could be seen in various European states before the fall of the Iron Curtin. It also came to the fore in regions where Europeans engaged in colonial state-building throughout this period.
In this module, we will examine the design of buildings, city centres, suburbs, and new towns, looking carefully at ways in which architects, engineers, and urban planners sought to order society, and the many forms of protest that prevented changes to the built environment. Seminars will draw upon a range of written and visual sources, including the plans, theoretical writings about what planning was designed to achieve, architectural and building magazines, and exhibition guidebooks. We will also look at photographs taken by municipal governments and the police, and those snapped by protesters looking to criticize state housing polices. The module is intended for students interested in the built environment, politics, modern European history, and Europe’s engagement with the wider world.