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From Social Spaces to Training Fields: Changes in Design Theory of the Children’s Public Sphere in Hungary in the First Half of the 20th Century

Csepely-Knorr, Luca and Klagyivik, Maria (2020) From Social Spaces to Training Fields: Changes in Design Theory of the Children’s Public Sphere in Hungary in the First Half of the 20th Century. Childhood in the Past, 13 (2). pp. 93-108. ISSN 1758-5716

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Abstract

The first half of the 20th century brought turbulent changes into the political and social scene of Hungary. Within a few decades the country shifted from being a partner in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, to the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, thereafter, the creation of the independent Kingdom of Hungary, which, after the WW2 ultimately became the People’s Republic of Hungary. These changes strongly affected the main ideologies of all fields of life in the country, including architectural, landscape architectural and educational theory and practice. This paper discusses evolving Hungarian ideas about designing places for children in the international context of education. It follows the changing concepts of play space, from designing for physical education and health, to the idea of training soldiers for an approaching war. By tracing the intricate links between these ideas and the history of Hungary during the period between the turn of the 20th century and the beginning of WW2, the paper argues that the interwoven nature of design theory and the socio-political context of children’s spaces is key in understanding their development.

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