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Urban aesthetics and national identity: the refashioning of Eastern Mediterranean cities between 1900 and 1940

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Abstract:

The ideas of urban aesthetics and the demand for new city forms appeared in the Eastern Mediterranean between 1900 and 1940 as a result of the coalescence of various events: the consolidation of European-type nation-states in the Balkans, the emergence of the Republican Turkey, the establishment of the Anglo-French mandate in the Near East and the British influence in Egypt. The refashioning of traditional cities was undertaken by French, British, Italian and German experts, architects and planners, together with local professionals trained in Western Europe. The important number of projects produced at the time show evidence of the diffusion of urban aesthetics ideas emanating from West European centres and their implementation in the Eastern Mediterranean cities. Although this transfer of town planning concepts from the 'centre' to the 'periphery' was occasioned by different factors in each city, those projects are to be understood as reflecting wider strategies needed for regenerating socio-economic and cultural life, and were linked to the broader debate between tradition and modernity, and to the construction of a nationally meaningful urban identity.

Keywords: Eastern Mediterranean cities; modernity and tradition; national city image; rupture of urban continuity; urban aesthetics

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02665433.2011.550442

Affiliations: School of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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