Online conference: Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning the Modern City / 2-9 March

Latif Al Ani, Shorja Street, Baghdad, 1960. Latif Al Ani Collection, courtesy of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai.

Docomomo International’s chair Ana Tostões will participate as speaker on the online conference “Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning the Modern City”, on 2nd March 2021.

Organized by Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational and Liverpool School of Architecture, the conference aims “to explore architectural production in the blurred era of independence to the post-colonial period of the mid-20th century, focussing on cities in Africa, Middle East and South Asia.

Whether driven by socialist agendas (Nehruvian in India and Nkrumah in Ghana), monarchies (Pahlavis in Iran and Hashemite in Iraq), quasi colonial protectorates, or pan-continental aspirations, architecture (and especially Modernism) was a key apparatus for nation-building, for re-imagining identities and a means to project and invent a new image of the future. The seminar seeks to explore the use of architecture as both physical infrastructure and symbolic expression, as well as its vulnerability to the vicissitudes of changing politics and policies of the times.

The role of cities as crucibles, vectors and catalysts for developing new expressions of identity, change and power is key. Cities in this period saw the emergence of schools of thought, dynasties and collaborations were formed, networks and ideas were shared and publications were disseminated. While the desire of a newly independent nation was often to consolidate a single national collective identity, it was through the urban centres that strands of coherent, yet often multiple identities were formed. The role of figures such as Rifat Chadirji, Mohamed Makiya, Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry were important as they often operated within multiple cities and cross-cultural contexts that spanned the colonial to postcolonial divide.

These urban centres were either newly built, or they were remade and reimagined through city infrastructure, government buildings, universities, cultural institutions and national monuments. Architecture schools, state sponsored projects and external agencies feed into the discussion and warrant further exploration. The seminar explores the transnational connections, diverse political agendas and complex allegiances which informed architectural development in this period.”

Tuesday, 2nd March
Session 1: Crucibles, 15:00-16:30 (UTC)
Building the Modern City: Expressions of Identity, Change and Power
Moderated by: Iain Jackson
– Talinn Grigor (University of California, Davis): Building a (Cosmopolitan) Modern Iran
– Ola Uduku (Manchester School of Architecture): Lagos International Metropolis: A city’s adventure in tropical architecture as an expression of dynamic modernism and growth in the mid 20th century
– Lukasz Stanek (University of Manchester): Rupture, Transition and Continuity in Baghdad’s Master Plans: From Minoprio to Miastoprojekt

Session 2: Vectors, 17:00-18:30 (UTC)
Framing the Modern City: Networks, Alliances and Knowledge Production
Moderated by: Clara Kim
– Ana Tostões (University of Lisbon): Correspondences, Transfers and Memory: Maputo’s “Age of Concrete”
– Fahran Karim (University of Kansas): Archaeology of the Future: Constantinos Doxiaidis in East and West Pakistan
– Patrick Zamarian (University of Liverpool): Global Perspectives and Private Concerns: The AA’s Department of Tropical Architecture

Tuesday, 9th March
Session 3: Catalysts, 15:00-16:30 (UTC)
Fragments of the Modern City: Memories, Echoes and Whispers
Moderated by: Nabila Abdel Nabi
– Lahbib el Moumni & Imad Dahmani (founders of MAMMA, Mémoire des Architectes Modernes Marocain): Initiatives toward saving modern heritage of Morocco
– Ram Rahman (Photographer/Curator): Building Modern Delhi, The Nehruvian Post-Independence Renaissance
– Amin Alsaden (Independent Scholar): Syntheses Across Disciplines: Rifat Chadirji and Art-Architecture Liaisons in Modern Baghdad

Online via ZOOM.
Registrations and more information here.