Diverse Modernism | Modern Diversity

Towards an European Triennial of Modernism (ETOM)

The story of Modernism is a story about building bridges, not one about claiming borders: The outbreak and development of reform-oriented movements at the beginning of the 20th century was a supra-regional phenomenon that spread on international scale and became particularly visible in Europe and stylistic differentiation after World War II. A fact the upcoming programme of the Triennale der Moderne / European Triennial of Modernism 2022 and 2025 wants to focus with the help of obtaining funding on EU level.

Modernism as an European Phenomenon

At the turn of the 20th century many European cities and regions were facing the same situation: Due to industrialisation people from the countryside moved into the more urbanised areas were a growing number of factories settled. As a result living conditions, society and politics were changing rapidly. Artist and designers created networks and developed new forms of expressions. New paradigms of design and urban planning were needed, especially in the big cities. Just like the German Werkbund and the Bauhaus became driving forces in Germany, other movements like De Stijl, Russian Constructivism or Czech Functionalism – just to name a few – evolved in other parts of the World. Many of the protagonists were global citizens sharing ideas beyond borders. Doing so they created the so-called International Style which laid the foundation for mid and late century modernism worldwide.

The Triennale der Moderne / Triennial of Modernism is aiming to become a supra-regional and multi-national festival and network on building culture (Baukultur) and the ideas of emerging, classic, mid century and late modernism. The goal is to trace back these developments and create a link between different parts of Europe that share a similar history. In order to do so and to draw a more complex and complete picture, the Triennial of Modernism is heading for networking across the borders and different institutional levels and plan to apply for EU funding. Doing so, the organisers looked out for partners on European level which led to the creation of a heterogenous network of highly engaged players in the field of architectural culture, communication, research and heritage preservation.

Back History, Key Facts and Issues

The focus and starting point for the Triennale der Moderne (Triennial of Modernism) in the founding year 2013 were the UNESCO World Heritage sites from the 1920s in the three German cities of Berlin, Weimar and Dessau. The Triennial of Modernism is an initiative of these three core cities and some major institutions there. But at the same time it also incorporates a grassroot movement of various local institutions and initiatives that somehow relate to the spirit of emerging Modernism from the Bauhaus era and far beyond that.

The aim of the organisers is above all to raise public awareness of the built and cultural heritage of the 20th century, to arouse a broader tourist interest and to embed building culture in general contemporary history and transcultural discourses. Since 2013, an extensive programme with around 100-200 individual events has taken place every three years on three consecutive autumn weekends which allows visitors traveling from place to place. The schedules include architectural tours, exhibitions, public events, network meetings, performances, interactive and educational formats, lectures and media presentations, public and scientific symposia and much more. 

In order to draw the full picture and to reflect the broad heritage of modernist thinking that revealed again after World War II, the programme of the Triennial of Modernism 2019 started to focus objects and developments that relate to International Style, postwar, mid- and late century modernism too. This extended range also includes shifts in design, architecture and society of similar movements that were inherent throughout Europe and contributed to decades of peaceful coexistence and supra-national cultural and political exchanges and potential co-creation of cultural formats.

At the beginning of 2021, the initiative partners of the Triennial decided a renewed cooperation, with the aim of establishing and sustainably expanding the Triennial in the long term. 

Creating Networks on EU Level

As a rule, the German programme and its organisation is financed by state funds, subsidies, third-party funds and/or the project partners‘ own funds.

In addition to this national perspective and back history of the event, a Europe-wide festival and network of Modernism is to be established in the near future. In this network-project cities, local institutions, civil and official and actors from across Europe with similar focus will interact, share interests, join activities and mutually promote each other.

The organisers believe that a format like this seems all the more necessary in view of the current war in Ukraine or the unexpected resurgence of nation-state egoism. The Triennial of Modernism wants to bring the states and people of Europe closer together through mutual exchange, understanding and the stimulation of active cooperation.

The application for funding at EU level is targeting the event years 2022 and 2025. Communal authorities, cultural institutions and civil initiatives from other European countries who would like to participate should contact info@triennial-of-modernism.eu for more information.

Stay tuned via Social Media

The website www.triennale-der-moderne.de will be continuously updated during the next months, so that the variety of formats, institutional, municipal, private and civil partners will become more and more visible. This broad range of different actors and topics provides a basis for future explorations. In the meanwhile, we aim to publish and promote special events and/or news in the field of architecture, design, social and urban planning issues related to the modernist era on our recently launched bilingual Social Media channels. Keep posted and follow the Triennial of Modernism at:

2022 with partners from

(in charge of the CREA-Entry)

  • zukunftsgeraeusche GbR (zkg), Berlin
  • buschfeld.com; Ben Buschfeld (BB), Berlin
  • Goethe-Institut (GI), Munich

By nation in alphabetical order

Czech Republic
• National Gallery in Prague (NGP), Prague
• Forum for Architecture and Media (4 AM), Brno

• Estonian Academy of Arts – Institute of Art History and Visual Culture (EAA–EKA), Talinn
• Estonian Museum of Architecture (EMA)

• ICOMOS International Secretariat, Paris

• Hungarian Museum of
Architecture (MEM-MDK), Budapest
• The Hungarian Contemporary
Architecture Centre (KÉK), Budapest

• Museum of Decorative
Arts and Design (LNMM), Riga
• Latvian Design Centre (FOLD), Riga

• Kaunas 2022 (K2022),
Kaunas European Capital of Culture

DOCOMOMO international

North Macedonia
• Contineo 2020 (CONTINEO), Skopje
• University American College Skopje – Privatna Ustanova – Department of Architecture (UACS)

• National Institute of Architecture and
Urban Planning (NIAiU), Warsaw
• Institut of Architecture Foundation (FIA), Cracow

• Asociația Română pentru Cultură,
Educație și Normalitate (ARCEN), Bucharest

• Belgrade International
Architecture Week (ABA-BINA), Belgrade
• ZAVOD – Zavod za zastitu
spomenika kulture grada Beograda
(Cultural Heritage Preservation Institute of Belgrade)

• Slovak Design Center (SDC), Bratislava