Ústav dějin umění Akademie věd ČR, v. v. i.

“Invisible Agents” in Architecture (1908-38)

“Invisible Agents” in Architecture (1908-38). Policies, Principles, and Projects in Central European Ministries of Public Works

Provider: WEAVE (FWF – Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung)
Duration: 2023–2026
Recipients: Institute of Habsburg and Balkan Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Institute of Art History, Czech Academy of Sciences
Principal investigator of the Czech team: Vendula Hnídková
Principal investigator of the Austrian team: Richard Kurdiovsky
Co-investigators: Dita Dvořáková, Raphaela Hemetsberger, Jan Galeta, Anna Stuhlpfarrer
External investigators: Ruth Hanisch, Anderas Nierhaus, Angje Senarclens de Grancy

The 1st half of the 20th century was a period of intense activity of Ministries of Public Works in Austria-Hungary and its successor states. Yet, the dominant discourse in architectural history ignores the major actor: to understand architecture more profoundly we shift the research perspective towards ministries as key commissioners. By situating past and present attitudes to the interaction of architects and institutions in Central Europe, this project aims to reveal not only state architecture in its diversity, but also the prejudices which still attend the scholarly discussion.

We aim to explore new perspectives on state commissions and consider how they contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of building production. Apart from focusing on ministries, our bilateral project allows us to gain critical insights (by a comparative analysis transgressing traditions of national historiographies) whether for two different states that build on the common ground or for modern architecture in general.

The project's key objective is to shift the dominant perspective in architectural historiography from a common interest in styles, architects, and their masterpieces to institutions like ministries as leading investors that contributed significantly to reshaping the built environment.


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