Compact Seminar in Berlin, 2022

  Schwedenhaus, Hansaviertel Copyright: © A. Hensel  

Housing Developments in Berlin

In addition to the field of research from the winter semester 2021/2022 on the Berlin housing developments of the 20th century, we took a group of students on an excursion. On site, we compared different housing developments of Berlin and tested the knowledge gained in the seminar at the object itself.

One focus of the excursion was the rapid development of ,Neues Bauen’ in the 1920s and 1930s. Starting with Bruno Taut's Schillerparksiedlung we explored the residential complex of Carl Legien, Weiße Stadt and Waldsiedlung Zehlendorf. The large housing developments of this period were important places in our program. Here, we were able to reflect on the role of color and materiality in the movement of ,Neues Bauen’. A special highlight was a visit to the former studio of Hans Scharoun and his wife Margit von Plato in the later building section of the Siemensstadt. Following the chronology of time, we surveyed the Grazer Damm, where we were able to see the special features of National Socialist housing construction. Another focus of the excursion was the new building development of the post-war period. On the roof terrace of the tower building , Giraffe’ we enjoyed a breathtaking view of the Hansaviertel planned by Otto Bartning. We also looked at examples such as Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation, Gropiusstadt in Neukölln, as well as contrasting buildings in East Berlin such as Karl-Marx-Allee. After a tour of the residential complex of the Schlangenbaderstraße freeway superstructure, we explored projects of the 1970s and 1980s in West and East Berlin. The redevelopment of the Mehringplatz, the prefarication buildings in Marzahn, and the Highdeck housing development in Neukölln received special attention.

The most important insights we were able to gather in Berlin were that photographs only show a very limited view, that every large-scale building project is always shaped by political motives, and that a walk-through with one's own observations on site is the best source.

Text: Anna Hensel