The Architecture of Independence in Central Europe
The end of the First World War in 1918 radically changed the geopolitical image of Central Europe. It brought freedom to many peoples, while for others it meant profound changes in political and economic life up to that time. The damage left by the war, the changing borders and the collision with the new political realities left their mark on the development of culture and the form of architecture in this part of the continent in the following decades. You will learn about how Bucharest, Warsaw, Tallinn, Eforie Nord and Chernivtsi have changed by going through the Romanian version of the exhibition “Architecture of Independence in Central Europe” prepared by the Polish Institute in Bucharest. It will be presented in the Vasile Pogor Museum – Casa Junimii between February 19 and March 19, 2024.
It was, admittedly, a short but very dynamic period. A mosaic of new countries appeared on the map of Central Europe. After the tragedy of the First World War, the dream was revived to restore order to the destroyed world, to find a new order for the nations that had finally acquired the desired materiality – says Łukasz Galusek, deputy program director of the International Cultural Center (MCK) in Krakow and one of the curators of the exhibition. Now, from the perspective of the more than 100 years that have passed since then, we can look at the moment when this new order took shape; for many it was a moment of celebration, and for others that day still makes them think. We look at our part of the continent in the vast horizon and try to grasp the whole spectrum of changes that happened then, which left traces on the space, in urbanism and architecture.
The leitmotif of the exhibition was to present the very dynamic period, after 1918, from the perspective of the entire spectrum of changes that influenced the space, urbanism and architecture of the new countries that appeared on the map of Central Europe. A new order was then born – political, social and cultural.
In the present case, the architecture of independence is understood more broadly than just individual buildings. It is the symbol of its materiality in the landscape of regions and cities, of the search for new models of national iconography, of the desire to create opportunities for social development, but also of the emergence of the idea of a new man.
Political changes caused once bustling metropolises to lose their importance, while provincial towns became overnight capitals of countries or regions. The young states needed an adequate, dignified framework. The monumental character of the buildings and the scale of the public spaces contributed to the consolidation of the new power and the construction of the national identity. Triumphant was modernism, which developed according to the needs of the poor, offering them cheap housing, so that, over time, it took on a new, luxurious dimension.
The end of the Great War is also the time of the birth of the idea of a new man. The man of the future had to be healthy and athletic, and his body had to resemble a machine. Health and hygiene, sport and active recreation were considered factors of social and moral change, as well as important elements in the consolidation of new societies. Spas have developed, as has the sports infrastructure. Sports halls, racetracks, swimming pools, stadiums that could accommodate thousands of spectators became visible symbols of modernization and a great propaganda tool for the newly created states.
Curators: Łukasz Galusek, Dr. Żanna Komar, Helena Postawka-Lech, Dr. Michał Wiśniewski, Natalia Żak
The exhibition is co-financed from the funds of the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage, as part of the NIEPODLEGŁA Multiannual Program for the years 2017-2022.
The exhibition will be presented in the Vasile Pogor Museum – Casa Junimii, between 19.02.2024 – 19.03.2024.
Cultural partners: Polish Institute Bucharest
Institutional partners: National Museum of Romanian Literature – Iasi