(Thoughts about) more chapters to be written – and even more comparison!

On behalf of the whole editorial team, the authors and photographers, I want to thank Daria and Steven, for presenting and discussing our book on your forum, and Anne, Carmen, and Igor and for their three reviews with competent and constructive feedback.

I would like to start with thanking Carmen, for acknowledging the visual structure and partly ‘artful’ concept of the book, although not explicitly discussed in the text. Indeed, we had long argued and then consciously chose a publishing house that would go for any design we wanted – as long as we could afford it within our limited financial resources. On the one hand, we wanted the book to be a seductive and enchanting object (for a seductive issue) highlighting the two destinations of research and both the ideal imagination of the socialist planners AND the built reality of the post-socialist present at first sight. On the other hand, we needed to cope with the problem of extremely heterogeneous visual material of all sorts, often in a very bad quality. Therefore we treated the photographs in the black and white core of the book in a rather similar manner and we added many plans and isometric diagrams intentionally redrawn by us in one single style only, which automatically supports the schematic appearance, which we thought to be a reference to the many how-to-do manuals in the field of architecture of the late modern period. We therefore also have to mention the contributions of Kerstin Stramer, who had a hell of a lot of work to re-draw these plans and diagrams despite a lack of sources, and to Katja Gretzinger for the entire graphic design.

I agree, Anne, of course much more could have made of the images themselves that serve primarily as illustrations of the textual arguments. Indeed, there would have been many different sources of images, produced by different agencies and addressing different target groups. We chose those produced for architecture magazines and for the state’s own representations to display its modernisation. And, yes, if we had gone for more images from tourist industries, advertisements, films, and especially from lifestyle magazines of that period time, we would have seen modern women in bikinis enjoying themselves at the seaside with some modern architecture in the background (if not the literal landscape in general). To underline what we left out, I add a link to a specific Croatian movie promoting Hotel Libertas in Dubrovnik addressing primarily well off American tourists – and not the working class and lower middle class that constituted the majority of guests. Yes, there should have been a text reflecting these different images as well – and also how tourists (and hosts) where co-producing space, ‘doing with architecture’, flirting with the modern environment of the resorts while also visiting replicas of ‘autochthonous’ architecture and ‘authentic’ ancient villages. Then there should also have been deeper reflections on the role of modern architecture in the construction of the imaginary, the illusion of ‘suspended’ space, which Carmen indicates is also left out.

But Anke, Elke, and I first of all had agreed on the distinct decision to do a comparative study of planning modern seaside tourist resorts in two different communist systems; we considered such a study to be particularly needed. Just as importantly, we wanted to investigate the different forms of privatization and transformation after 1989, with both their economic and physical consequences. Therefore we of course had to face limits on our own research capacities: temporal, economic, and according to our scientific background. Even if we would have conducted all the additional research that our reviewers would have loved to see (and we would have loved to do see as well) this book as a vessel of organized content and an aesthetic item alike would still have its own limited capacities, in contrast to an exhibition which offers a wider range of displays, media and therefore cross-reading. For keeping the representations of and the argumentations about our two destinations widely balanced, some of the issues sadly had to ‘sacrificed’ – at least at this very first attempt.

I hereby want to recommend Kristen Ghodsee’s brilliant ethnography of women working in Bulgaria’s popular tourist resorts (2005).[1]

Thank you, Igor, for acknowledging our ambition to deconstruct the exoticizing and essentializing tendencies of post-socialist discourse. We also intended to de-essentialize the recent discourse about a rather abstract notion of turbo-capitalism, generally made responsible for transforming the built environment in the former communist East. Initially we even wanted to include a capitalist destination as well, for there had not been only one capitalist conception of tourism developments in the West. They differed widely from centralized France, with companies founded by the state to plan large-scale resorts – even larger that in communist nations, but to be used for private apartments and second homes – to decentralized Austria (although not a seaside destination), supporting primarily small and medium scale family enterprises. But of course we would have failed to write a chapter about post-socialist privatization (but not about increasing real estate speculation).

Here I want to come back to questions posed by Anne: If we had investigated ‘Social Tourism’ more prominently, would the distinction between the East and West have become more obvious? We did not focus upon ‘Social Tourism’, nor Camping, nor private B&B, which have been as important according to the tourist capacities and ‘authentic’ experience. Instead, we wanted to keep the attention on those prominent buildings that became the prime targets of desire during the non-transparent process of post-1990s privatisation. There is great work about ‘Social Tourism’ in former Yugoslavia by Igor Duda et.al. (2010).[2] But first of all Social Tourism facilities existed in the capitalist West as well – and they even did not look so different, as did the first commercial facilities in Yugoslavia as well. And Social Tourism facilities caused as many complaints as inappropriate service in the new commercial enterprises both in East and West. It is important to note that the working classes and the middle classes in the East and West that had been able to travel to the seaside in the post WWII period had been absolute beginners: they did not yet know the standard of top hotels in the West. And a large part of the service personnel had been absolute beginners as well – both in the East and the West. They had to start to learn from each other, and did so quite successfully – up to the mid-1980s (see also Duda and Godhsee). Most of them returned every year despite complaints. Indeed, it might be worth writing a comparative cultural history of complaints in tourism. Some cultural and financial elites wrote harsh critiques about communist seaside resorts and capitalist family enterprises in the Alps alike up to the mid-1970s.

Much as I need to hand over more precise questions about Bulgaria to Elke, I should do likewise with Igor’s question about the domestic architectural knowledge that fed both urban planning and the individual design of tourist resorts to Maroje, who already gave some general answers in the publication Modernism In-Between (2012), discussed earlier in this forum.[3]

Of course, in the case of the Croatian Adriatic, architects and planners were able to draw upon a long planning tradition already established in the late 19th century, when sanatoria and private villas were built close to ancient harbour towns, and built in the interwar period the first explicitly modernist villas and hotels (e.g. Grand Hotel Lupod by Nikola Dobrović, 1937). These high bourgeois projects were only briefly ideologically contested – at least in socialist rhetoric – but widely accepted (most notably by Tito himself) and therefore easily integrated into the new plans. But as Igor knows best himself from his contribution to this year’s Venice Biennale, we should not underestimate the influence of art and visionary design: e.g., Richter’s Pavilion for the Word Expo in Brussels 1958, unintentionally a forerunner for more many hotel lobbies; his utopian concept of Sinturbanism (1964), transformed into his interactive relief-meter sculptures (1967) and an inspiration for so many Structuralist hotel designs (from facades to the interior, e.g. the ceiling in Haludovo’s hotel lobby). But this transfer remains only speculation and interpretation, since not one of the architects I interviewed mentioned any direct influence, which was very much in contrast to the managers of communist hotels who were proud of having visited every hotel and interested in gaining new ideas from all over the world!

Michael Zinganel graduated from the faculty of Architecture at Graz University of Technology and obtained a PhD in history at the University of Vienna. He has taught at various universities and academies, most recently at the postgraduate academy of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation (2011-12/2014). He is co-founder and principal of the independent research institute Tracing Spaces (2012), which produced the book Holidays after the Fall (Berlin, 2013) and an exhibition focussing on the legacy of Modernist tourism developments on the Croatian Adriatic coast shown in Graz (2012), Berlin (2013), Rijeka and Vienna (2015). Since 2014 he is Associate Research Scientist at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and Principal Investigator of the project Stop and Go: Nodes of Transformation and Transition about the impact of mobility and migration for the production of space alongside Central and Eastern European Traffic Corridors.



[1] Kristen Ghodsee (2005) The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism, and Postsocialism on the Black Sea, Durham and London: Duke UP.

[2] in Hannes Grandits and Karin Taylor (eds) (2010), Yugoslavia’s Sunny Side. A History of Tourism in Socialism (1950s to 1980s), Budapest and New York: Central European UP; and most recently in his paper Tourists as Guardians of Socialism: Yugoslav Social Tourism across Tito’s Brijuni Islands, presented at the ASEEES conference in San Antonio, November 23, 2014.


[3] Vladimir Kulić, Maroje Mrduljas, and Wolfgang Thaler (2012): Modernism In-Between: The Mediatory Architectures of Socialist Yugoslavia, Berlin: Jovis.

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