Montag, 01. Juni 2015, 17:15 - 19:00 iCal

182. Institutsseminar, Prof. Dr. Cathleen Giustino

Locating Czechoslovakia’s Missing Parliament Building: Technocracy and the Politics of Representative Space in Interwar Prague

Hörsaal des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung
Universitätsring 1, 1010 Wien

Seminar, Workshop, Kurs

National parliament buildings can be powerful symbols of civic unity – symbols that function to build a sense of common identity and shared commitment to democratic government among diverse communities. The First Czechoslovak Republic, created in 1918, had multiparty rule, universal adult suffrage, a multinational population, and Prague as its capital city. Yet, it had no building designed for the purpose of holding national parliamentary meetings in which the country’s elected representatives debated and passed the laws of the land. During the interwar period a number of competitions were held and many architectural drawings were created for the construction of a building designed with the dedicated role of housing the new independent state’s parliament. Prague’s Letná Plain, a large undeveloped space just north of the Castle and overlooking the historic downtown, was discussed as the best location for the construction of a Czechoslovak national parliament building. The State Regulation Commission, a technocratic administrative body conceived to have unrivalled control over the urban planning of Prague, led efforts to secure the parliament’s construction on the Letná. However, this po-tential symbol of shared Czechoslovak civic identity and commitment to democracy was never built there or anywhere else. This paper tells a story of unbuilt architecture and empty space. It presents the interwar history of Czechoslovakia’s missing national parliament building and rea-sons for the absence of this representative site, including the de-centralized nature of central-state power and the limits of technocracy in the young republic.


Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung


Stefanie Gruber
Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung