Dr. Kornélia KISSFAZEKAS PhD / Budapest, H
BME Department of Urban Planning and Design / LinkedIn

Dr. Endre VÁNYOLOS DLA / Cluj, Ro
Sapientia Faculty of Technical and Human Sciences 

Dr. Federica VISCONTI PhD / Naples, I
UNINA Department of Architecture



’Socialist in the Content’? ‘National in the Form’? 

The state socialism after World War II, can be divided into marked sub-periods of which the ’50s is perhaps the most controversial one. Maybe this decade saw the biggest contrast between the common belief in the need for social changes and the political will disguised by dictatorial demagoguery. In this context, the role of the architects was interpreted more broadly by contemporary political leaders. They were convinced that the designers could influence social mentality, by creating the ’life-frame’ of the new society.

1952: G.M.Orlov, a Stalin-award-winning Soviet architect, visited Budapest to help Hungarian architects formulate the new urban planning and architecture according to the social-political order versus ’cosmopolitan modernist ideology’. The instructions were as a summary of the political expectations, which included guidelines such as the transition to collective work, the widespread use of standardized designs, mass housing construction, the awareness of the urban significance of new public buildings, the roles of the new urban spaces and streets, the importance of the silhouette effects in the urban design; professional tasks related to the introduction of socialist realism. Presumably in every country of the Eastern Bloc was a “Comrade Orlov” who mediated Soviet directives amicably and oversaw its implementation. However, the transposition of centrally formulated ideas into local practice can show differences.

The main topic of the session is to formulate the contradictions of the 1950s, among others:
– soviet directives versus local tendencies;
– professional commitment to individual architecture versus the politically expected direction;
– among noble ideas, such as equal opportunities, housing as a fundamental right for the wider strata, and consequently the relationship between mass housing and quality;
–  to deny modernism and to formulate new stylistic features in contrast to the formal features of socialist realism.

The aim of the session is to objectively evaluate the urban architecture and architectural events of the decade, to analyze the relationship between the idea and reality, paying attention to their current context.