Integrate, Adapt, Collaborate: Comecon Architecture in Socialist Mongolia

This paper conceptualizes the uneven dynamics of architectural mobilities between member states of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) and socialist Mongolia, a member of the Comecon since 1962. These long, intense, multilateral, and coordinated exchanges decisively contributed to the development of the “material-technical base” for construction in Cold War Mongolia, including planning institutions as well as construction and construction-materials industries. Based on archival research and interviews in Mongolia, Russia, Germany, and Poland, we introduce the concept of “concern” and argue that the priorities, motivations, and aspirations of the professionals involved were informed by three concerns. They included, first, the concern for integrating Mongolian design and construction industries into a comprehensive network of organizations in charge of the urbanization processes; second, the concern for adapting foreign resources to the conditions on the ground; and, third, the concern for an increasing collaboration between Mongolian, Soviet, and Eastern European actors. We study how these actors followed, exploited, and sometimes challenged the political economy of the Comecon, and how they negotiated it with feedback from specific investments. We argue that the concept of the three concerns is useful for studying architectural mobilities in global socialism and across competing 20th-century developmental regimes.

Source: Open edition journals