Dr. Monika Motylinska
Junior Research Group Leader | Department for Historical Research

Monika Motylinska is an architectural and urban historian, with an interest cycles of architectural production in 19th and 20th century in the ‚Global South‘. Since January 2020 she is junior research group leader and principal investigator in the project „Conquering (with) Concrete. German Construction Companies as Global Players in Local Contexts“ (Freigeist Fellowship funded by the VolkswagenStiftung, January 2020-December 2024). At the same time, since October 2019 she has been investigating the work of the Institute for Tropical Architecture in Tanzania and Senegal together with Dr. Rachel Lee within the framework of the interdisciplinary research program "Centring Africa" (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Canadian Center for Architecture) 

Between 2016 and 2019 she was a postdoctoral research fellow and Gerda Henkel Fellow in the research project on the GDR architecture abroad at the IRS. In December 2016, she defended her PhD thesis at the Technical University Berlin on handling the post-war heritage in Germany. For her doctoral research she was granted a fellowship by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (February 2013 till January 2016).

She holds a Master’s degree in heritage protection from the Nicolaus Copernicus University Torun and a Master’s degree in art history from the Technical University Berlin. She is a member of EAHN, SAH, EAUH as well as the Bauhaus Institute for History and Theory of Architecture and Planning in Weimar.  

Research Interest and Expertise

Research Foci
Building and Planning History of the German Democratic Republic
Globalisation
Global Production Networs
Urban Research
Research on Infrastructure
Disciplines
Architectural History
Historical Urban Research
Foci in Methods and Concepts
Analyses of Iconography and Architectural History
Image Analysis
Case Study Design
Text Analysis
Comparative History

Projects

Ongoing Third-party Funded Projects

Global construction companies impact our futures. Beyond the edifices and infrastructures they construct, they also fundamentally influence governmental development aid policies, or dislocate people to build a new dam, for example. Yet the role of these major global players and their persistent presence in different world regions has barely been reflected upon. Our project investigates how major German construction companies conquered markets and spaces, thereby cementing their presence in different regions of the Global South, and it will trace the footprints left behind, long after the dust of the construction sites settled. It draws on the observation that it is impossible to fully understand the complexity of the built environment in these regions without acknowledging and analysing the role of construction companies such as HOCHTIEF AG or Bilfinger Berger as actors, stakeholders, transnational legal entities and major driving forces in the processes of globalised construction business. However, in previous bodies of research this perspective has been overlooked, except for rare exemptions. more info

Selected Publications by Year

2020
Fenk, A., Lee, R., & Motylinska, M. (2020). Unlikely Collaborations? Planning Experts from Both Sides of the Iron Curtain and the Making of Abuja . Comparativ, 30(1/2), 38–58. DOI: 10.26014/j.comp.2020.01-02.03
Høghøj, M., & Motylinska, M. (Eds.) (2020). Spaces of Fear / Angsträume. (Moderne Stadtgeschichte; Vol. 2020, No. 1).
Motylinska, M., & Phan, P. (2020). "Not the usual Way?": On the Involvement of an East German Couple with the Planning of the Ethiopian Capital. Architecture Beyond Europe, 2019(16). DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.6997
Motylinska, M. (2020). Simone Tulumello, Fear, Space and Urban Planning. A Critical Perspective from Southern Europe, New York 2016. Moderne Stadtgeschichte, 2020(1), 82-85.
Motylinska, M., & Høghøj, M. (2020). Spaces of Fear in European Cities of the 20th Century / Angsträume in den europäischen Städten des 20. Jahrhunderts. Moderne Stadtgeschichte, 2020(1), 6-12.
2019
Bernhardt, C., Butter, A., Motylinska, M., & Burckhardt, D. Architekturprojekte der DDR im Ausland: Bauten, Akteure und kulturelle Transferprozesse. Onlinedatenbank zum Architekturexport der DDR
2018
Motylinska, M. (2018). Communicating Unwanted Heritage? The Case of the Technisches Rathaus in Frankfurt am Main. In R. Lee, D. Barbé, & P. Misselwitz (Eds.), Things don't really exist until you give them a name : unpacking urban heritage (pp. 258-265). Dar-es-Salam: Mkuki Na Nyota.
2017
Motylinska, M. A Failure Upon Completion: Heidelberg's 'Concrete Ghetto' Still Stands 45 Years On
Motylinska, M. (2017). Radikal berlinisch? Die Diskussionen über den Umgang mit der Architektur der 1960er Jahre bis zur Jahrtausendwende . In K. Wittmann-Englert (Ed.), Verflechtungen: Berlin in der Architektur der 1960er Jahre (pp. 71-80). Ludwigsburg: Wüstenrot-Stiftung.
2016
Motylinska, M. (2016). ‚Ape Rock’ or an Icon of Brutalist Architecture in Germany? In A. Tostoes, & Z. Ferreira (Eds.), Adaptive Reuse: The Modern Movement towards the Future (pp. 444-450). Docomomo International.
Motylinska, M. (2016). A „Concrete Ghetto“ or a „Prime Example with Blemishes“? On Reputation of the Housing Estate Emmertsgrund in Germany. Paper presented at Reinterpreting Cities : International Conference on Urban History, Helsinki, Finland.

Selected Publications by Type

Journal Issue / Special Issue
Høghøj, M., & Motylinska, M. (Eds.) (2020). Spaces of Fear / Angsträume. (Moderne Stadtgeschichte; Vol. 2020, No. 1).
Journal Article
Fenk, A., Lee, R., & Motylinska, M. (2020). Unlikely Collaborations? Planning Experts from Both Sides of the Iron Curtain and the Making of Abuja . Comparativ, 30(1/2), 38–58. DOI: 10.26014/j.comp.2020.01-02.03
Motylinska, M., & Phan, P. (2020). "Not the usual Way?": On the Involvement of an East German Couple with the Planning of the Ethiopian Capital. Architecture Beyond Europe, 2019(16). DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.6997
Motylinska, M., & Høghøj, M. (2020). Spaces of Fear in European Cities of the 20th Century / Angsträume in den europäischen Städten des 20. Jahrhunderts. Moderne Stadtgeschichte, 2020(1), 6-12.
Contribution to Anthology
Motylinska, M. (2018). Communicating Unwanted Heritage? The Case of the Technisches Rathaus in Frankfurt am Main. In R. Lee, D. Barbé, & P. Misselwitz (Eds.), Things don't really exist until you give them a name : unpacking urban heritage (pp. 258-265). Dar-es-Salam: Mkuki Na Nyota.
Motylinska, M. (2017). Radikal berlinisch? Die Diskussionen über den Umgang mit der Architektur der 1960er Jahre bis zur Jahrtausendwende . In K. Wittmann-Englert (Ed.), Verflechtungen: Berlin in der Architektur der 1960er Jahre (pp. 71-80). Ludwigsburg: Wüstenrot-Stiftung.
Motylinska, M. (2016). ‚Ape Rock’ or an Icon of Brutalist Architecture in Germany? In A. Tostoes, & Z. Ferreira (Eds.), Adaptive Reuse: The Modern Movement towards the Future (pp. 444-450). Docomomo International.
Conference Paper
Motylinska, M. (2016). A „Concrete Ghetto“ or a „Prime Example with Blemishes“? On Reputation of the Housing Estate Emmertsgrund in Germany. Paper presented at Reinterpreting Cities : International Conference on Urban History, Helsinki, Finland.
Contribution to Forum or Blog
Bernhardt, C., Butter, A., Motylinska, M., & Burckhardt, D. Architekturprojekte der DDR im Ausland: Bauten, Akteure und kulturelle Transferprozesse. Onlinedatenbank zum Architekturexport der DDR
Motylinska, M. A Failure Upon Completion: Heidelberg's 'Concrete Ghetto' Still Stands 45 Years On
Review in Journal
Motylinska, M. (2020). Simone Tulumello, Fear, Space and Urban Planning. A Critical Perspective from Southern Europe, New York 2016. Moderne Stadtgeschichte, 2020(1), 82-85.

Talks

2019
Post Wall Heritage - Zum Umgang mit der DDR-Architektur in den 90 Jahren

Architekturdiskurse der 90er Jahre in Berlin

December/05/2019
Kunsthochschule Weißensee, Berlin

2018
Botschaften der DDR – eine architekturhistorische Perspektive

December/12/2018

A Success Story? On the GDR Export of Cement Plants

Exporting Socialism, Making Business? Intercultural Transfer, Circulation and Appropriations of Architecture in the Cold War Period

June/22/2018
Leibniz-Institut für Raumbezogene Sozialforschung, Erkner, Germany

Striving for Recognition - GDR Embassies from the 1950s and 1960s

71st Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians 2018

April/20/2018
St. Paul, United States

Architekturprojekte der DDR im Ausland: Bauten, Akteure, kulturelle Transferprozesse

15. Werkstattgespräch zur DDR-Planungsgeschichte

January/18/2018
IRS Erkner, Erkner , Germany

2017
The COMECON and Knowledge Production in the Fields of Architecture and Town Planning

Spaces of Interaction between the Socialist Camp and the Global South: Knowledge Production, Trade, and Scientific-Technical Cooperation in the Cold War Era

October/26/2017
Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany

Excluded from the Canon of the Postwar Modernism in Germany?: On Handling the Architectural Heritage from the 1950s and 1960s

Canonization of Modernism

August/14/2017
Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Germany

In Search of a Better World?: Migrations of Modernist Architects from the GDR to Latin America

19. International Conference of the Modernist Studies Association (MSA)

August/10/2017
Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Germany

Seeking Recognition, Making Business.: The Export of GDR Architecture

Export of Architecture in the Cold War Period: Projects, Actors and Cultural Transfers

July/07/2017
Erkner, Erkner, Germany

How Much Rebuilding?: On Handling the Postwar Modernist Architecture

Umbauten zwischen Funktionswandel und weltanschaulicher Anpassung

March/18/2017
Cottbus, Cottbus, Germany

Communicating Unwanted Heritage?

International Conference Urban Heritage Activism

March/17/2017
Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2016
Towards the 'World Niveau': Architectural Export of the GDR: Path, Results und Repercussions

Migration und Baukultur von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart

November/24/2016
Erkner, Erkner, Germany

‚Ape Rock’ or an Icon of Brutalist Architecture in Germany?

Adaptive Re-use. The Modern Movement Towards the Future

September/08/2016
Lissabon, Portugal, Lissabon, Portugal, Portugal

A „Concrete Ghetto“ or a „Prime Example with Blemishes“?: On Reputation of the Housing Estate Emmertsgrund in Germany

Reinterpreting Cities : International Conference on Urban History

August/26/2016
Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

News
February/28/2021
Interview with the IRS Junior Research Group Leaders Jana Kleibert and Monika Motylinska

The IRS currently hosts two junior research groups funded by prestigious programmes. Urban and economic geographer Jana Kleibert has been researching how higher education is marketed in international "branch campuses" with her Leibniz Junior Research Group "Constructing Transnational Spaces of Higher Education" (TRANSEDU) since 2018. Architectural historian Monika Motylinska and her junior research group "Conquering (with) Concrete", funded by the Volkswagen Foundation's Freigeist Programme, have been investigating what German construction companies contributed to the globalisation of architecture in the 20th century since the beginning of 2020. In the interview, the two researchers reflect on the current state of their research groups' work and explain how they are dealing with the challenges of the Corona pandemic. more info

Dr. Monika Motylinska in the Media

Neue Freigeist Fellowships
(Bio Spektrum, 11/01/2019)
Export-Hit Zementanlagen
(Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, 04/27/2019)