During the postwar era, education was profoundly transformed. In the 1950s, as the significance and duration of education expanded in the East and West, school buildings were scaled down from large, self-contained, multi-story structures to low-rise, pavilion-like facilities surrounded by green space. Decentralised, small-scale, and low-cost school buildings fulfilled the requirements of the Global South and of Western, socialist, and Non-Aligned countries. In the mid-1960s, architects in industrialised countries began to design larger schools. By 1970, expansive educational facilities, equipped to serve as neighbourhood centres, became the dominant building type in the West. Large school centres were feasible in the industrialised Global North but no longer transferable to developing countries, which had yet to establish their school systems.

Founded in 1948 in Lausanne, the Union Internationale des Architectes (UIA) gradually established a global network of architects. The UIA utilised expert knowledge as a vehicle for overcoming political, economic, and aesthetic frontiers.







In the course of our research, we expanded the scope of the project to examine the influence of UNESCO and the OECD on school construction and educational planning in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as the exchanges between the UIA, UNESCO, and the OECD. One of the project’s sub-studies examines how the idea of prefabrication and modular coordination was implemented in developing, non-aligned, and Western countries.

In 1951, it set up the Commission on School Constructions (CSC), renamed the Working Group on Education in 1970. Architects such as Alfred Roth, Jean-Pierre Vouga, Jean-Pierre Cahen, Ernst J. Kump, Mario C. Celli, Jan Piet Kloos, Ciro Cicconcelli, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, Wilhelm Schütte, Lukas Lang, Světla Karfíková, Anton Schweighofer, Oton Gaspari, Helmut Trauzettel, Günter Wilhelm, Danuta Mieszkowska and Yannis Michail etc. served on this working group as delegates. Their role was threefold: they carried out comparative research by surveying case studies and emergent technologies, codified international standards, and acted as local arbitrators.

The main aim of this study is to examine the mechanisms of knowledge exchange between the transnational agency of the UIA and three of its member states: Austria, the German Democratic Republic, and Slovenia (which was part of Yugoslavia during the postwar era). The goal is to study how construction modes, design briefs, standardisation, and building types that the UIA working group prescribed from a global perspective were transformed within the respective national settings. Simultaneously exploring the transnational level and demarcated territorial units, we will uncover the entangled histories of actors, networks, and events that shaped school-building policies against the backdrop of the Cold War.


Principal investigator
Dr Maja Lorbek, University of Applied Arts Vienna


National project partners
Dr Oliver Sukrow, TU Wien (10/2020 – 09/2023)
Dr Monika Platzer, Susanne Rick (2021-2022), Architekturzentrum Wien


International partners
Professor Matej Blenkuš, lecturer Mitja Zorc, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Architecture


Project type: FWF Stand-alone project
Duration: 1 October 2020 – 31 March 2025

Funded by the FWF Austrian Science Fund under grant number P 33248
Grant DOI: