Building a Modern City in Central Europe: Brno, 1900-1938

Date: 14 May - 14 May 2024
Time: 18:00 - 20:00
Venue: Neill Lecture Theatre, Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin

This talk is organised by the Department of History of Art and Architecture and delivered by Prof Matthew Rampley (Masaryk University).
He explores the emergence of Brno as a centre of modernist architecture in the light of the conflicting political and ideological currents of the early 20th century. It examines Brno’s role as an emblem of urban development after the redrawing of the political map of central Europe in 1918, and considers the political stakes involved.

The Czech city of Brno, having long laboured under the shadow of Prague, has recently come to public attention as a significant cultural centre in its own right. It is best known, perhaps, as the home town of the geneticist Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) and the modernist composer Leoš Janáček (1854-1928), and as the location of the UNESCO-listed Villa Tugendhat (1929-30) by Mies van der Rohe.

After the First World War it became a preeminent site of modernist architecture in the Czechoslovak Republic. As such, it symbolised the identity of the new independent state as a democratic and progressive entity. Yet until 1918, Brno was commonly referred to as a 'suburb' of Vienna. Only some 80 miles north of the Habsburg capital, it had strong social, cultural and artistic ties to its metropolitan neighbour, and much of its urban fabric was designed and built by Viennese architects. It also had a substantial German-speaking population. Consequently, while interwar avant-garde rhetoric espoused ideals of cosmopolitanism and internationalism, in practice, the embrace of architectural modernism in interwar Brno was associated with the distinctly political task of distancing the city from its Austrian heritage and asserting its identity as a Czechoslovak city. 

Read more about Prof Matthew Rampley here.

Please indicate if you have any access requirements, such as ISL/English interpreting, so that we can facilitate you in attending this event. Contact:

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