Cities Across Nations

  • Abstract:

    Since the Treaty of Paris (1951-1952) the European city has transformed significantly under the influence of geo-political changes, economic expansion and socio-cultural shifts. In the decades after the Second World War, architects, urbanists and policy makers conceived and implemented a series of competitions for transnational urban projects which profoundly influenced the reality and imagination of a borderless European urbanism. The competitions produced a unique discourse on the relationship between architecture and territory in a globalizing world and formed a distinct set of ideas within postwar urban practices and theories looking at the future of the European city. This discourse on transnationalism from the architectural point of view served as an important vehicle for the postwar project of European integration. In the search for a European peace after the Second World War, architectural visions emerged that promised to provide a no-man´s land of international cooperation. Four competitions took place from 1952 to 1958:
    - 1952: Cities competition for hosting the ECSC and future organizations (competing cities: Liège, Luxembourg city, The Hague, Saarbrücken, Strasbourg)
    - 1954-55: Architecture competition for a European district near Saarbrücken
    - 1957-58: Prix de Rome architecture competition for a European Pantheon
    - 1958: Cities competition for hosting ECSC, EEC, Euratom and future European organizations (competing cities: Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Paris, Departement de l´Oise, Nice, Milan, Monza, Stresa, Turin, The Hague)
    The projects submitted for these competitions promoted visions of political solidarity transcending nations and re-connecting regions. However, they faced a contradiction between on the one hand the representation of a European identity, and on the other the manifestation of a neutrality to prevent all possible conflict between nations. Therefore border cities, territories that had never fully belonged to one nation or another became popular sites for experimentation.