Habitat Unit

Doctoral Colloquium
November 30, 2018 | 9.00 - 12.00 am | A 624

MODSCAPES Doctoral Colloquium

MODSCAPES – Modernist Reinventions of the Rural Landscape is an EU-HERA funded project partially based at the TUB, Habitat Unit. MODSCAPES explores rural landscapes produced by large-scale agricultural development and colonisation schemes planned in the 20th century. This transnational research project investigates eleven case studies across Europe and beyond.

In the frame of the 4th MODSCAPES International Meeting and Workshop, on the 30th of November starting from 9.00 am at the Habitat Unit, students from MODSCAPES and TUB will present their researches on topics related to MODSCAPES: architecture, architectural history, urban planning, urban design, landscape planning, and related discipline.

Prof. Simon Bell, Estonian University of Science (PI for Estonia); Prof. Cristina Pallini, Politecnico di Milano (PI for Italy); Maria Helena Maia, Escola Superior Artistica do Porto (PI for Portugal) will discuss about the presented researches.

Organised by Vittoria Capresi and Emily Bereskin (TU Berlin - Habitat Unit / MODSCAPES)


Constructing place and Community.
The complementary relationship between architectural ad urban design in towns and villages of the Pontine Marshes.

Emanuela Margione

As part of MODSCAPE project, this research intends to focus on the role of architecture and public facilities within new rural settlements of one of the Italian cases studies: the Agro Pontino.
This geographic area was reclaimed by the Fascist party under the directions of two main actors: Arrigo Serpieri – an agronomist- and Natale Prampolini- an engineer. The reclamation, started in 1923, precedes the so-called "displacement from the city" and the "ruralization of the area" glorified by Mussolini during the "ascension speech" in 1927. As one of the most important territorial transformation carried out directly under public control, the "Fascist Redemption Project" of the land, is particularly significant at first for the relationship between the closeness to Rome, the new Agro-towns, the villages (Borghi) and the morphological structure of agricultural holdings and at least because it was taken by fascism as a propaganda tool, a showcase enourmously advertised and published.

Starting from the MODSCAPE'S research question, this work on the one hand will highlight the relationship between the existing landscape and the network of roads, drainage and irrigation canals; the relationship between the new settlements as the villages and towns, and the architectural features; the role of public buildings as a system of public facilities promoting new behaviours patterns, and their bold modernist architecture symbolized the conquest of the land. And on the other hand, in particular starting from the European objective of Hera – strictly connected to the human importance and the social impact of different phenomena- the research aims to understand: the role of public buildings in the construction of a scenic space where was integrate both history and innovation; the role of architecture in setting in motion new identity process; the political impact on the architecture and urban planning, the impact of these public facilities after a drastic change of the political scenario; and finally the close relationship between the rise of new architectural typologies and the birth of new communities.


Re-Location: Resettlement practices in brown coal mining areas of East Germany

Julia Ess

Since the beginning of the 20th century, more than 370 villages with a total amount of about 120,000 inhabitants have been relocated in Germany due to open-pit lignite mining. The devastation of villages and resettlement of their inhabitants had and still have massive implications on the rural landscape and settlement structure of the affected regions. The planning of the relocations reflects, to a great extent, social, economic, and political change in post-war Germany, as well as development in town planning and architectural concepts. Hence, resettlement policies in the GDR and the FRG differed fundamentally and changed over the decades.

In the GDR, it was common to resettle displaced inhabitants via single and group relocations into new Plattenbau housing on the outskirts of cities, corresponding to the political agenda and modern visions of the time ("Kohleersatzwohnungsbau", verbatim: "coal substitution housing"). Starting in the mid-1980s, regulations that facilitated the resettlement of displaced persons into detached prefabricated houses were put into place. In the years following reunification, the resettlement practices in the Rhineland acted as a prototype for those in Lusatia. Since then, both in West and East Germany collective, "socially responsible" relocations are being conducted.

The dissertation project explores relocation strategies in surface coal mining areas of Germany with a focus on the GDR district of Cottbus, Lusatia, and an emphasis on architecture and planning history. The aim of my dissertation is to identify and elaborate the different lignite-induced resettlement concepts that were applied in the GDR over the decades and to describe the development of the GDR, later East German resettlement policy.


Memory and invention of a Promised Land.
Architecture and rural reclamations in the interwar period, Italy and Greece.

Silvia Boca

The PhD-research trajectory is part of a broader European project entitled MODSCAPES - Modernist reinventions of the rural landscape (HERA JRP III call "Uses of the Past", Oct. 2016-2019) dealing with large-scale agricultural development and colonization schemes planned in the 20th century throughout Europe and beyond. Pivotal to nation-building processes, such schemes produced modernist rural landscapes, seldom considered as a transnational research topic.
Although this topic of agricultural development and colonization schemes has already been studied by a number of scholars, it has yet to be investigated from architectural research.
The PhD-research, differently from MODSCAPES research that try to enable a better understanding of the common patterns which shaped national identities and a shared European narratives, focuses on revealing the uniqueness and maximum contribution that can be identified in each specific case. The architecture isn't seen in the strict sense but in the relationship with other elements and protagonist in the construction of an anthropized landscape. In this sense the research moves necessarily between the field of architectural design and territorial planning, as the transformations that have affected and may affect these areas have a large impact on the territory and not only on the singular settlement.
In particular the research deals with three case studies:
- Refugee settlement in Northern Greece (1922-1930);
- Land reclamation scheme carried out in Fascist Italy: in the Pontine Marshes (1922-1942) and the Apulia Tableland (1928-1939, and post-war.
These case studies represent polar example and it's important to focus on the historical ruptures, when future scenarios and related change had to be envisaged, modifying the incremental evolution of the anthropic landscape, and the relations of production between urban and rural societies. In particular in both cases the areas, where the transformations and colonizations took shape, were not virgin land but territory full of history, old settlements and networks on the territory.
Looking at Pontine Marshes emerge as element of uniqueness the technical solution and the technical landscape that derives from a sedimentation of project and studies on it producing the artificial landscape of country, its settlements and hierarchy.
Differently looking at Greek case study, the settlement aspect that has deal with the emergency of millions of refugees to settle is the element of uniqueness.
From an architect's viewpoint, I can pose a series of questions from the general understanding to the particular case study:
What is wilderness? Was it really wilderness?
Which were the sediment projects and how they influenced the landscape?
How did architects contribute to the formal and spatial qualities of the settlement concerned?
How was architecture aimed at the widest possible understanding?
What was the relationship between architectural and urban design?
Which elements of the historical palimpsest can still play a part in a new scheme? Which was the role played by the pre- existence and which kind of role they will play?
This project-oriented research aims also at identifying future challenges and proposing solutions. For this, the thesis aims to theorize about the use of the resources, coming from the past transformations and still present on the territory or in the settlements, in the process of designing for the purpose of inventing-designing a proposal for the future.


Yeniköy Village: Rural Scenery of Internal Colonization from the
Empire to the Nation State in Turkey

Özge Sezer

Michael Hechter defines the term "Internal colonialism" as the centralized control mechanism for the peripheral regions of the nation-state that are distinguished from the core because of non-parallel economic growth, hence socio-cultural development. "Internal colonization," on the other hand, refers to planning with the spatial scope to rule over the groups in "the settlement of previously unoccupied territories within state borders." In other words, internal colonization was conceived as an integration tactic for peripheral groups in order to manage the people in these regions according to the nationalization and modernization schemes.

Colonizing the internal land on behalf of state power can be clearly seen in Yeniköy Village in Izmir, Turkey: The village consists of two settlements built under two different regimes, first during the last decade of nineteenth century by the Ottoman state, and then during the 1930s by the Republican state. The imperial settlement was constructed for the agricultural labourers coming from several Ottoman domains in the North Africa to work in the regional imperial farms. Four decades after the republican state implemented a new planned rural settlement in the same terrain that aimed to boost the agricultural economy by housing the Turkish-speaking peasants from Romania. Although the ideologies of the two regimes were dissimilar in detail, the formula, however, was repeated in the same locale.

This research intends to position Yeniköy Village as a locus of internal colonization, which clearly illustrates changing implementation motives within the concepts of empire and nation state. Besides an historical mine in the village, this study concentrates on the architectural fabric of the settlements in order to understand modernization and nationalization attempts that occurred through particular planning strategies. At the same time, it also analyses the narratives of these two building agendas in today's village-scape, and their echoes in daily lives of the settlers. With the architectural historiography of Yeniköy Village, the research consequently proposes to re-open the debate on the forms of state interventions, which still impact the rural areas in today's authoritarian regimes.


Rural development and repopulation in the French Protectorate in Morocco

Michele Tenzon

In the French colonial context, rural modernisation was intertwined with control and security strategies and with a programme of cultural and economic infiltration of the colonised societies by the dominant power. As prominent tools of the modernising action, colonial urban and regional planning played a major role in giving physical form to the emergence of power structures aimed at reinforcing and stabilising the French occupation of the country.
This contribution explores rural development and resettlement schemes within the evolving context of social, economic and material conditions upon which the programme of modernising the country was built. It focuses on the role of projects implemented in the Gharb valley—a coastal plain north of the Moroccan capital, Rabat—in enabling French settlers to acquire a dominant position within the physical, economic and social landscape of the region and in marginalising native pastoral groups. In particular, I consider schemes implemented by the colonial administration as part of an official colonisation programme and then a partially realised regional plan elaborated by the French modernist architect and urban planner Michel Écochard and some members of the Service de l'Urbanisme.
Although they have been less explored then their urban counterparts in architectural and urban history, rural modernisation policies were pivotal in an underlying programme of spatial and social segregation of the Moroccan peasantry that benefitted both French settlers and the Moroccan rural elite. However, modernisation of rural Morocco did not unfold inexorably across the country. The failure or diversion of many of the implemented programmes shows that the actual practice of colonial modernisation was the result of negotiation between the global understanding of colonisation and local natural and social conditions.


Dr. Vittoria Capresi

Room A 409

T + 49  30  314  22588
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