Architecture in the Service of Nation-Building Cover Image

Az építészet mint nemzetépítés
Architecture in the Service of Nation-Building

Search for a National Style in Hungarian, Polish, Czech (and Austrian) Architecture Before 1925

Author(s): Dániel Veress
Subject(s): Cultural history, Social history, 19th Century, Pre-WW I & WW I (1900 -1919), Period(s) of Nation Building
Published by: KORALL Társadalomtörténeti Egyesület
Keywords: history;social history;history of architecture;national movement;

Summary/Abstract: Architecture, just like literature and music, was involved in the nation-building processes, architects also sought ways of expressing their national identities and characteristics. The most composite displays of this patriotic approach to architecture were the attempts at distinct national styles which aimed the comprehensive nationalization of the art of designing buildings. In my article I compare these often movement-like strivings and divide them into twin groups by sociohistorical factors. According to my multiscopic and comparative research, three macro dichotomies shaped the relationship between architecture and nationalism in (post-)Habsburg Central Europe.First and foremost, these would-be styles emerged in Hungarian, Czech, and Polish architecture, while no peculiar Austrian (style) endeavour was elaborated. Due to an almost complete lack of Austrian (ethnic/national) identity, the issue was considered marginal or even dismissed among the Austro-Germans. Secondly, Hungarian, Czech, and Polish architects strove for comprehensive acknowledgement as national styles, whereas only some of them achieved this aim. It is striking that all successful efforts became fully-fledged under the aegis of an independent nation-state. Accordingly, the nationalist stirrings of the Hungarian architects, whose nation enjoyed a semi-independent status within the empire since 1867, reached this fully-fledged condition prior to the collapse of Austria-Hungary. During the very same decades, Czech and Polish attempts had to wait for this achievement until the foundation of the Czechoslovakian and Polish nation-states in 1918. Thirdly, the sources of inspiration for these would-be nationalist styles varied. The Czechs rather stood under the influence of urban culture while the Hungarians and Poles were mainly influenced by vernacular building and folk art. I could trace back this dichotomy to another socio-historical phenomenon: the unevenness of urbanisation and industrialisation within the empire’s distinct regions. (For the English version of the article see: Shelekpayev, Nari et al. [eds.] [2016]: Empires, Nations and Private Lives. Essays on the Social and Cultural History of the Great War. Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars.)

  • Issue Year: 2017
  • Issue No: 68
  • Page Range: 146-173
  • Page Count: 28
  • Language: Hungarian