Socialist Architecture: Dissonant Heritage of CEE in the Concept of Sustainable Tourism Development

Socialist Architecture: Dissonant Heritage of CEE in the Concept of Sustainable Tourism Development

Paweł Piotr Piotrowski, Małgorzata Kieżel, Joanna Wiechoczek
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1423-8.ch002
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The goal of the chapter is to draw attention to the need to preserve selected examples of architecture built in 1945-1991 in the European Union countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The meanings assigned to the objects evolve, and along with social changes and changing awareness, architectural and urban value of the buildings from this period is more and more often noticed. Consequently, growth of their significance for development of tourism can be expected. On the other hand, they often constitute a dissonant heritage, and thus, more and more of them are demolished. This chapter presents the concept of dissonant heritage and justifies the relationships between characterised architecture. Attention is focused on the relationships between the need to protect it and the concept of sustainable development (including sustainable tourism). Examples of cities that have relatively big resources of this architecture are identified, and an attempt to classify them is made. Then tourist offer of these cities is analysed with respect to the use of the discussed architecture.
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Architecture developed in 1945 - 1991 is one of characteristic features of the landscape of cities in Central and Eastern Europe, found in the countries previously belonging to communist bloc. For visitors to these countries, housing estates of multi-storey tower blocks, usually located in city outskirts are its most visible representation. However, the architecture is not only typical of residential buildings. It is also reflected in many public utility buildings located in city centers, that were built for the needs of public administration, culture, sport and recreation or leisure. They are not only individual facilities and buildings, but often broader urban concepts that were to change the character of the cities. Their examples include buildings representing the style of socialist realism and socialist modernism. The discussed architecture constituting specific heritage of the cities of this part of Europe, often raises negative feelings because of the period in which it emerged. Thereby, it is becoming dissonant heritage now. This leads to demolition of its valuable examples and transformation of urban concepts which will make it impossible for future generations to learn about, and evaluate the heritage. Because the concept of sustainable development assumes enabling future generations to meet their needs, the needs also include cognitive need met through tourism activity among others. This is even more emphasized in the concept of sustainable tourism that indicates the need to preserve natural and cultural heritage. Due to this, examples of this architecture that have especially excellent value should be identified and protected. At the same time, it is necessary to create tourist products that will expand knowledge and enable understanding of the architecture, which will consequently allow to understand the ideas and circumstances that accompanied its emergence, that were not necessarily related to the socialist system itself. In connection with the above, the following objectives of this chapter are formulated:

  • 1.

    Identifying the premises that make socialist architecture consistent with the concept of dissonant heritage.

  • 2.

    Showing relationships between socialist architecture and the concept of sustainable development and sustainable tourism.

  • 3.

    Identifying cities in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe which belong to the European Union and have relatively rich resources of socialist architecture, as well attempting to classify them.

  • 4.

    Diagnosing the level of use of socialist architecture in creation of tourist offer of identified cities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Dissonant Heritage: The concept representing discord or lack of agreement or coherence with reference to given heritage.

Socialist Realism: Style in art (including architecture) operating in the Soviet Union since 1934, and after 1945 also in other socialist countries; it was binding until 1956.

Sustainable Development: Development, the goal of which is to ensure balance between economic, social and environmental growth in the way that enables the present, and future generations to meet their own needs.

Socialist Architecture: The whole architecture that occurred in the countries belonging to socialist bloc – the USSR, People’s Republic of Poland, German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Albania.

Sustainable Tourism: The concept of management in tourist regions (directly considering the principles of sustainable development), based on optimal use of resources of the environment and tourist infrastructure, respect for its socio-cultural authenticity (including preservation of heritage and cultural identity), promotion of local traditions and also ensuring socio-economic benefits to all interested parties (stakeholders).

Central and Eastern Europe: The countries located in the central part of Europe that have common cultural and historical roots. They include such countries as Estonia, Latvia, Poland Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Belarus, Ukraine, the countries of former Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria and Romania. Additionally, as regards the subject area of the chapter, this group also includes Germany in the area of the former German Democratic Republic.

Socialist Modernism: A type of modernist architecture observed in the countries of communist bloc.

Cultural Heritage: Tangible and intangible resources that are a result of actions of present and past generation.

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