Iconic Ruins? / Shared Cities: Creative Momentum

Post-war architecture in the former state-socialist countries has recently become a prominent topic. For a long time it was viewed by the public in a dubious light and against the backdrop of the often bleak personal memories of and lives impacted by the communist regime. Recent expert studies and activities aimed at public education have, however, revealed that the architecture at that time assumed a surprisingly diverse array of forms and that there existed in the region a parallel course of development that anchors the former Eastern bloc within the wider frame of the history of world architecture. The ICONIC RUINS? Exhibition thus focuses primarily on politically prominent public investment projects and looks at where the ambitions of power and the creative ideas of architects connected and where they clashed.

The rapid demise of this architecture in recent years as a result of dramatic redevelopment and radical demolitions has prompted unprecedented action on the part of the professional community and academic sphere. The exhibition therefore also tracks the current condition of post-war architecture and combines historical comparisons based on Docomomo International’s methodology with student visions for the future use and transformation of such structures, which were developed as part of a project of the same name run by the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava (Studio of Architecture II, III A3, and the Virtual Studio).

The ICONIC RUINS? exhibition seeks to reveal the parallels to be found in the architecture of the four Visegrad countries’ shared state-socialist past and to initiate a broader discussion of the immediate future of the critically at risk cultural heritage of late modernism. The exhibition is part of a large European project titled SHARED CITIES:CREATIVE MOMENTUM aimed at mapping the shared history of socialist architecture in Central Europe.

The ICONIC RUINS? exhibition was created as part of Shared Cities: Creative Momentum - an international network for creative discourse at the intersection of architecture, art, urbanism and the sharing economy. From 2016 to 2020, Shared Cities brings together eleven partners from seven major European cities (Belgrade, Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest, Katowice, Prague and Warsaw) with the ambition to show urban citizens that their participation and cooperation is essential for creating a pleasant and valuable urban environment.

The gallery in the Czech Centre in Prague is hosting an exhibition that traces the evolution of socialist architecture in the countries of the Visegrad Group – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The buildings presented in the exhibition’s photographs are grouped into various typological categories, which include culture, media, education, business, international representation (hotels), sports, infrastructure, administration, and public administration. The photographs are accompanied by information on the buildings’ current condition and their function. This should provide the public with a good overview of post-war architecture up to 1989 in all four Visegrad countries. The exhibition will be followed by a moderated discussion on the current issue of society’s relationship to these buildings and how each of the Visegrad countries is coming to terms with and handling this heritage from the socialist era.

© Pavla Hradcová

© Anna Pleslová

© Anna Pleslová

© Anna Pleslová

© Anna Pleslová

Shared Cities: Creative Momentum (SCCM) is a European cultural platform addressing the contemporary urban challenges of European cities. SCCM is a joint project of Goethe-Institut (DE), Czech Centres (CZ), reSITE (CZ), Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava (SK), Association of Belgrade Architects (RS), Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre – KÉK (HU), Katowice City of Gardens (PL), KUNSTrePUBLIK (DE), Mindspace (HU), Old Market Hall Alliance (SK), Res Publica – Cities Magazine (PL). Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.


Petr Vorlík (CZ), architecture historian
Henrieta Moravčíková (SK), architecture historian
Anna Cymer (PL), architecture historian
Ábel Mészáros (HU), architecture historian


Vysoká škola výtvarných umení v Bratislavě
Fakulta architektury ČVUT v Praze
Slovenská akademie věd
Docomomo International – Czech
Docomomo International – Slovak
Národní památkový úřad