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History of European Urbanism in the 20th Century

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - UrbanHist (History of European Urbanism in the 20th Century)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2021-07-31

urbanHIST is a multidisciplinary research and Training programme run by Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (Germany), Universidad de Valladolid (Spain), Univerzita Pavla Jozefa Šafárika v Košiciach (Slovakia) and Blekinge Tekniska Högskola (Sweden) in cooperation with 13 Partner organisations and funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It develops and sustainably promotes a joint understanding of 20th century urbanism in Europe. 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESR) will be working in 8 thematic fields. The work of the ESR is organised in eight thematic fields:

• Historiography of European urbanism
• Urbanism, political and development strategies
• Public infrastructure, social housing and evolution of cities
• Urbanism, heritage and urban planning in Europe
• Central Europe since the fall of Austro-Hungarian Empire through dictatorships of the 20th century to European Union
• Urbanism, architecture and building of national identity
• The establishment of urbanism as profession and discipline
• Planning for the growth society and the emergence of sustainability.


Role of urbanism in the 20th century
Throughout the 20th century, urban planning constituted itself as an important tool to spatially direct social developments. This applies to Europe more than to any other continent. Urban planning contributed significantly to the emergence of the welfare state, strong economies and a balanced settlement structure. However, urban planning also caused suppression and destruction of some population groups, alongside natural and cultural resources. With the collapse of socialism in 1990, and the increasing importance of the EU, the 20th century ended with a multi-layered convergence in regard to the implementation of urban planning as a regulative and shaping instrument.

Contemporary historiographic approach to urbanism
Most studies on 20th century urban planning adopt national perspectives, while studies aiming to provide an overview focus on several core countries with special attention to the generation of planning innovations in advanced capitalist countries. The mainstream planning historiography mostly ignores not only a majority of European countries, but also important aspects of the history of urbanism like the function of urban planning as an instrument of nation-building, as a resource of power for dictatorships or as vehicle to homogenise the development of bigger areas of the continent. Furthermore, methodological approaches are very heterogeneous.
Thus, urbanHIST follows an approach which responds to this criticism.
In the beginning of urbanHIST management and organisational structures were installed at the institutions of the four beneficiaries and different boards and committees were formed. Those bodies are responsible for monitoring, consulting and quality control of integral parts of the project.
Additionally, several competencies persons were appointed such as Confidential Person, representative of recruited ESRs Equal Opportunities Representative and an Advisory Board was formed.
In order to realise proposed research objectives 15 ESR positions were announced worldwide. Following a comprehensive selection process nine female and six male Early Stage researchers from 13 different countries were recruited at the institutions of the 4 beneficiaries.
For each recruited researcher individual supervision agreements, individual Career Development Plans and Individual Progress Reports were developed between researchers and their supervisors.
In terms of dissemination and outreach activities urbanHIST launched a website at that gives a comprehensive overview and clearly presents the detailed progress of the project with detailed information. Additionally, a Newsletter is published every three months and distributed to 1000s of people in scientific and public communities and articles in local newspapers introduce urbanHIST to the general public. To date ESRs of urbanHIST conducted 32 conference contributions and 23 publications in scientific journals.
urbanHIST presented at many events such as open days, distributed promotion material and for outreach e.g. it organised a stand at the shopping mall in Košice and presented on "What is it like to be a european citizen and student" by 2 ESRs at GYMES – a secondary bilingual grammar school in Košice.
On a network level urbanHIST implemented 3 network meetings (5/17, 10/17 and 4/18) and one kick-off meeting (10/16). During network meetings partner organisations and advisory board members are invited and the networks meets for scientific presentations, discussions and the evaluation of the project’s progress.
urbanHIST developed a comprehensive training programme to ensure the best training possible for all candidates. It comprises of three different levels which are individual training, local training and network training. Additionally, ESRs do secondments at different academic and non-academic partner organisations of urbanHIST.
• Individual Training is based on special needs of the ESRs and balanced with the ESRs personal interests and requirements.
• Local Training is based on various training activities at their host institutions like local conferences, scientific workshops and soft skills Workshops.
• Network Training activities take place during the regular network meetings every six months and are established in 7 qualification tracks including Training courses mainly given by advisory board members and external experts.
• Secondments are obligatory for all ESRs to conduct 3 secondments during their recruitment time.

All ESRs had to adapt to local disciplinary at their host institutions first and to the research milieu, to fulfill local requirements regarding mandatory courses on theory and methodology.
In the first period of UrbanHist ESRs have been busy to study on theoretical concepts, interdisciplinary methodology and first attempts of critical reviewing of literature or preparing case studies within their individual Projects. They focused primarily on the study of relevant scientific literature, heuristics and data collection.
Additionally, many of them completed the obligatory 3 secondments.
UrbanHist contributes significantly to the knowledge of history in urban planning in 20th century Europe with a new transnational and interdisciplinary approach.
It increases the awareness of the circulation of ideas and models of public action on urban space and the extent of its impact.
Moreover, the Project deepens interdisciplinary research and the development of innovative methodologies for comparative studies, like GIS in historical Research, which helps to overcome differences in scientific discourses on the history of European urbanism between different national approaches.
Critical studies of urban models like housing programs are explored aiming at demystification of ideas and ideals.
Theory and practice will be integrated to new applications leading to the conceptualization of actionable knowledge.

urbanHIST supports the Europeanisation of all institutions involved leading to increased internationalisation of studies and research. It results in a better understanding of European countries due to regeneration of a common history.
Thus, it specifies the view for the socio-political instrument of town planning to jointly arrange the future in a democratic and effective manner.
Logo of the urbanHIST project
Researcher from urbanHIST present their work to the general public in Valladolid, Spain
urbanHIST network meeting in Valladolid, Spain
Young urban(H)ists conference in Kosice, Slovakia
Researchers from urbanHIST discuss with students of a secondary grammar school in Kosice, Slovakia