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Atrium - architecture of totalitarian regimes of the 20th century in Europe's "Urban Memory" association

by Ognjen Tomic

To promote and manage the ATRIUM Cultural Route the ATRIUM Association was founded in June 2013 by the partners of ATRIUM project, financed under the South East Europe. The project highlighted a key element of twentieth-century European history: the cultural heritage and memory associated with totalitarian regimes and their particular architectural legacy. All partner countries, in fact, have traces of architectural heritage dating from a period characterized by the presence of political regimes which in different ways may be characterized as “totalitarian”. The period and the historical context varies from Fascist Italy of the 1920s and 1930s, to the communist societies of Eastern Europe from the 1950s to the 1980s.

The partnership is thus an example of the common recognition of the importance of the architectural heritage of the twentieth century, and its relation to complex, contradictory and uncomfortable periods of European history.

Main objects of the ATRIUM Association:

  • disseminating knowledge, protecting and promoting the European heritage - both tangible and intangible - associated with the architecture and history of the 20th century, with special focus on periods marked by dictatorial and totalitarian regimes in Europe;
  • coordinating the local European itineraries of the architecture of totalitarian regimes of the 20th century within the framework of a single ATRIUM transnational route;
  • carrying out activities aimed at fostering the study, knowledge and enhancement of the cultural and architectural sites and itineraries in cooperation with universities and research centres.

ATRIUM: the European Cultural Route

The main result of the cooperation between the partners was to bring together different experiences in order to discover shared historial elements. The definition of a European Cultural Route can provide a way for European citizens to explore certain aspects of their twentieth-century history, looking at traumatic events through the prism of urban landscapes in the different countries and cities.

The transnational cultural route suggests a tourist itinerary that connects several countries of Europe which share a desire to focus on the architectural heritage of the different totalitarian regimes they have experienced from a cultural and historical point of view. The urban landscape still visible on the streets of the cities of these countries is a testimony to the traumatic nature of the first half of the twentieth century as well as the subsequent birth of a democratic Europe and a European Union project firmly based on a rejection of these totalitarian experiences.


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