Dam Nation: Imaging and Imagining the 'Middle East' in Herman Sörgel’s Atlantropapurchase PDF
Authors: Peter Christensen
Few utopian visions surpass that of Herman Srgel's Atlantropa, in terms of infrastructural, architectural and geopolitical ambition. Conceived in the interwar years and developed until Sörgel’s death in 1952, Atlantropa was an ambitious infrastructural proposal for a tightly linked Europe-Africa that was to be formed by damming the Strait of Gibraltar and the Dardanelles, and the creation of several transcontinental arteries supporting the flow of people and natural resources between the two 'civilizations'. Sörgel, who emerged from a German school of geopolitical thinking that placed primacy on Lebensraum and the well-being of European races in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was one of the first architects to wholeheartedly bridge the gap between design and this form of discursive geopolitics. While touching on architectural elements of the proposal, this article focuses on the major regional planning and macro-architectural gestures articulated. Atlantropa not only shifted conceptions of Europe's geopolitical relations with its immediate neighbours, but also countered contemporaneous predispositions to eastward as opposed to southward expansion prevalent in German geopolitical thinking in the pre-World War II years.