A Return To Beauty? What Western Europe Could Learn From Eastern Europe | Jake Scott
Recently, the Twitter account Architectural Revival shared something that caught my eye: a plan in Poland for an old Soviet housing block to be either re-built or re-clad in a traditionalist facade:
Soulless concrete block to be replaced by new Classical building (proposal)
— ArchitecturalRevival (@Arch_Revival_) 2 October 2019
Architectural Revival has been championing traditionalist architecture for quite some time now, and their followers count (52,000) suggest it is not a voice in the wilderness, but rather part of a mass appeal that wishes to see a return to local and traditional architectural techniques. And, fortunately, neither is Poland alone in their endeavour; a bit of research shows that Hungary is also rejecting their soulless Soviet past in favour of their true history, re-cladding many of their public buildings in a traditional style.
Contrast this to Western Europe, where the globalist obsession with glass and steel reigns supreme, and you cannot help but think that (once again) Eastern Europe is a light in the darkness. Consider, for instance, when discussing methods of drawing investment into their local economy, the Republic of Ireland’s plan for Cork was described as thus:
Kearns makes it clear that the new structures act like a billboard: “We’re advertising ourselves by our own city. One of the key elements in the 2040 project is regional development to counterbalance growth in Dublin and as our marketplace is smaller we’ve a bigger chance to show off.”
To treat a city as “a billboard” is to betray the true intentions: not to create a liveable space for the citizens and existing inhabitants of Cork, but to make it a shell through which corporations can, at whim, flow in the same way a billboard on the side of the road, ugly and intrusive, will never have any substance of its own, only the vacuous displays of adverts. This is to ignore the true reason for the existence of a city in the first instance: a communal space where a community can imprint itself on the land, and build a legacy together. Why sell out the inhabitants at the slim possibility that some distant and unknown corporation might decide to pitch their tent there? Why not invest in the local communities, and build with an eye to history?
Perhaps we really do have a lot to learn from Eastern Europe.