The Myth of the Central European Architectural Identity

written by Aleš Vodopivec


When I received the invitation to present my views on the Central European architectural identity¹, I re-read Milan Kundera’s text “The Tragedy of Central Europe”.² Kundera speaks of the upsetting dimensions of the tragedy which struck the nations of Eastern Europe, which were forcefully detached from the rest of Europe after World War II. Historical roots were undercut for tens of millions of people in this way, meaning that they lost their identity, their civilizational being. According to Kundera, a life without identity is tragic.


More than twenty years has passed since Kundera’s text was first published. The Berlin Wall fell, but we still do not know whether Central Europe is just a myth, or as Peter Handke says, just a “meteorological term”. I shall summarize my experiences with Central Europe in three stories, which have some things in common, although they belong to different periods.