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Building Solidarity. Architecture after Disaster and the Skopje 1963 post-earthquake reconstruction


This dissertation starts with the consideration that the climate disaster is going to change every aspect of the built/living environment as we know it, and asks: what can architecture do after disaster? For this examination, the dissertation looks at one of the most optimistic and understudied post-disaster rebuilding efforts, that of the Skopje earthquake in 1963. Through the examination of archival planning material, the Skopje example shows how architectural labor can be organized for a common cause of the community and that architecture can thrive without capitalism. Skopje was a successful rebuilding effort because it was entrusted to the local architects, engineers, and planners, and not government or military contractors, with international help, which was there to lend expertise, technology, and media attention to help support funds for the project. The reconstruction effort, because it was mostly done by the local architectural workforce with some international help was able to produce a city suitable for the climactic necessities and conditions on the ground and provide humane urban living conditions for thousands of people. What this study of the Skopje reconstruction further shows is that architecture thrives outside of the constraints of speculation and zero-sum games of exploitative profits. This was because the Skopje project and others like it during the 1960s showed a different way of building and constructing the built environment for the benefit of the people and their needs. This dissertation explains the reconstruction process to show that it was suitable example for an environmentally sustainable future.

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