The Centre Cannot Hold?

Download the full conference programme here.

We are pleased to launch the Power and Architecture season of events with a conference bringing together leading minds from the worlds of architecture, politics, economics and contemporary art.

Led by Michał Murawski (SSEES, UCL) and Jonathan Bach (New School, New York), and organised by UCL SSEES’ FRINGE Centre, this two-day conference will look at the aesthetics, politics, economics and effects of centrality and monumentality in 20th century cities. The line-up includes contributions from prominent researchers, architects and artists such as Vladimir Papeny, Vyjayanthi Rao, Owen Hatherley, Clementine Cecil, Hilary Wainwright, Łukasz Stanek and Wendy Pullan, among many others.

Taking place from 10 June – 9 October 2016, the Power and Architecture season will examine utopian public space and the quest for new national identities across the post-Soviet world. Click here for more information.

Booking terms & conditions

The conference is free to attend, but a deposit of £5 will be taken in lieu of a ticket, which will be fully refunded when you attend the event or send someone else in your place. Not attending the event and not sending anyone else in your place will mean you lose your deposit.

Please allow up to 7 business days for your refund to be processed and show up on your account. If it’s past that time, do get in touch with us so we can look into it.

We have a 12-hour cancellation policy, meaning you can cancel your ticket up to 12 hours before the event start time by emailing [email protected] and the deposit will be refunded to your account.  For any cancellations made outside this time frame the deposit becomes non-refundable.


New Monumentality, Neo-Modernism and Other Zombie Urban Utopias
FRINGE Centre, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL & Global Studies Program, The New School, New York
Supported by: UCL Grand Challenges Fund, UCL Mellon Programme, UCL Urban Lab


Registration & Coffee — 8:30 am

Welcome & Introduction — 9 am
•  Alena Ledeneva (Director, SSEES FRINGE Centre): On Fringers, Fringeists and Fringeism
•  Michał Murawski (UCL SSEES) and Jonathan Bach (New School): Re-Centring the Fringe

Keynote — 9:15 am – 10 am
•  Vladimir Paperny (UCLA): Discovering the Hidden Side of Architecture

Session 1 — 10:15 am – 11:30 am — Zombie Socialism I (Moscow)
Chair: Michał Murawski (UCL SSEES)
•  Andreas Schönle (Queen Mary Russian): The Post-Post-Socialist Condition in Moscow: Centripetal Nostalgia in the Re-Purposing of VDNKh
•  Dasha Paramonova (Strelka Institute, Moscow): From Unique to Public in 20 Years. Moscow Architecture After the Soviet Union
•  Clementine Cecil (Director, Pushkin House, founder of Moscow Architecture Preservation Society): Fortress City: The Hegemony of the Moscow Kremlin

Session 2 — 11:45 am – 1 pm — Zombie Socialism II (Palaces & Castles/Warsaw & Berlin)
Chair: Wendy Bracewell (UCL SSEES)
•  Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll (Oxford) & Jonas Tinius (Humboldt University, European Ethnology): Appropriating Universal Centrality: Containing the World in Berlin’s New Humboldt Forum
•  Jonathan Bach (New School): The Palace and its Doubles
•  Michał Murawski (UCL SSEES): Palatial Communism in Warsaw and Beyond

Lunch break* — 1 pm – 2 pm

Session 3 — 2 pm – 3 pm — Zombie Socialism III (Imagining Berlin & Warsaw)
Chair: Uilleam Blacker (UCL SSEES)
•  Aleksandra Polisiewicz (artist, Warsaw): Wartopia Warsaw: Simulations of the Imagination
•  Lorenzo Tripodi (artist/researcher, Ogino Knauss): Reimagining Berlin: The Center as Global Space of Exposure

Session 4 — 3:15 pm – 4:30 pm — Dreams & Ideologies
Chair: Elizaveta Butakova (UCL Art History)
•  Owen Hatherley (London): Constructivism For and Against the Metropolis: From Gosprom to the Green City
•  Heike Oevermann (TU Berlin): Negotiating Urban Space: Interventions, Conflicts and the Dream of Horizontal Planning
•  Douglas Murphy (London): The Infinite Interior: Dreams of Universal Space and its Uneven Realisation

Session 5 — 4:45 pm – 6 pm — Special Spaces? Enclaves and Zones
Chair: Jonathan Bach (New School)
•  Patrick Neveling (Utrecht University, Anthropology): What Holds the Centre? Panama, Shannon, and the Spectre of Normal Capitalism in Not-So-Special Economic Zones
•  Hilary Wainwright (Transnational Institute, London; Editor, Red Pepper magazine): Red Cities as Radical Enclaves
Łukasz Stanek (Manchester School of Architecture): Lagos Central (Sovereign Geometries)


Registration & Coffee — 9:30 am

Session 6 — 10 am – 11:30 am — The Edifice Complex: Verticality Revisited
Chair: Victor Buchli (UCL Anthropology)
•  Vyjayanthi Rao (Terreform New York): Verticality, Post-Socialism and Re-Structuring in Mumbai
•  Andrew Harriss (UCL Geography): Infrastructural Visibility: The Political Performance of Vertical Transport Projects in Contemporary Mumbai
•  Tom Wolseley (UCL Urban Lab artist-in-residence): Vertical Horizons: The Shard, Wealth and Identity (a film in progress)
•  Steve Graham (Newcastle): Vanity and Violence: The Politics of Contemporary Skyscrapers

Session 7 — 11:45 am – 1:15 am — Hintercentres
Chair: Clare Melhuish (UCL Urban Lab)
•  Pushpa Arabindoo (UCL Geography): Chennai: The New Geographies of Hinterland
•  Max Sternberg (Cambridge Architecture): Reinvented Centres on the Periphery? Constructing Shared Heritage in German-Polish Border Towns
•  Natalia Romik (UCL Bartlett): Post-Shtetl: Spectral Transformations and Architectural Challenges in the Periphery’s Bloodstream
•  Laura Colini (artist/researcher, Ogino Knauss): “Re:Centring Periphery”: Navigating the Space of the Fringe

Lunch break*— 1:15 pm – 2:15 pm

Session 8 — 2:15 pm – 3:30 pm — Morphologies of Monumentality
Chair: Peter Zusi (UCL SSEES)
•  Wendy Pullan (Cambridge, Architecture): The Fragmenting Centre: Partisan Monuments and the Question of Rights
•  Yevgenia Belorusets (Kyiv, artist): Let’s Put Lenin’s Head Back Together Again!
•  Adam Kaasa (Director, Theatrum Mundi, RCA): Domestic Monumentality: Scale and Affect in the Modern City

Session 9 — 3:45 pm – 5 pm — Axis Mundi: The New Sacred
Chair: Akosua Bonsu (UCL SSEES)
•  James Noyes (UCL PACE): Sacred Space in the Cityscape: Regulation, Reduction, Destruction
•  Jennifer Mack (Uppsala, Anthropology): Religious Austerity: Building the Sacred in the Secular City
•  Kuba Snopek (Wrocław): Architecture of the Seventh Day: The Late Socialist Sacred in Poland

Closing Session — 5:15 pm – 6:30 pm — Explosion: Control & Resistance in the Epicentre
Chair: Jan Kubik (Director, UCL SSEES)
•  Mona Abaza (American University in Cairo): The Tale of two Cities Retold: After the Event, Enduring Cairo
•  Joy Gerrard (London, artist): Image as Mirage: Protest Crowd and Precarious Freedom
•  Oleksiy Radynski (Visual Culture Research Centre, Kyiv): First We Talk About Sentsov and Kolchenko, Then We Talk About the Rest

Closing Remarks — 6:45 pm – 7 pm
•  Michał Murawski (UCL SSEES) and Jonathan Bach (New School)

*Light refreshments will be provided throughout the conference. Lunch breaks will not be catered, though there are a variety of dining options in the Shoreditch area.