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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - bologna.lab - Neue Lehre. Neues Lernen

Re/Inventing Berlin – Architecture after 1945

Taught by Alessa Paluch

Tuesday, 14:00 - 16:00, Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, Room 0323-26

Course taught in English (with parts in German, depending on language level)


Course description

At the end of World War II Berlin was largely destroyed. But the area-wide destructions also held a chance: the possibility to rebuild Berlin as a totally new city – in modernists words: as a better city. And indeed Berlin changed dramatically – but not in the way modern architects and urban planners had envisioned it in the post-war period.

Quite differing proposals were made in East and West Berlin. Especially for the so called Capital of the Cold War it proves to be true that architecture is a not just a mirror to the society which builds it – but that architecture also shapes the lives of the people living with and within it.

Using examples such as Karl-Marx-Allee, Hansaviertel, Gropiusstadt, Potsdamer Platz et al. this seminar retraces the stations and phases of reconstruction with a focus on political and cultural developments. The most influential concepts of 20th century urban planning will be presented. In addition the seminar aims to be an exercise in (architecture) criticism.


A constant participation and reading is obligatory. Short Presentations should be held. Every participant is obliged to write a scientific essay (5 pages). In addition every participant is also obliged to write an architecture critique (1-2 pages) which standards and form will be subject of at least one session. The essay and/or the architecture critique can be submitted in German and/or English.


This seminar suits students of urban planning, urban studies, metropolitan studies, culture studies, geography, sociology, art history and history. Invited to join are all interested students of the humanities and social sciences.


Introductory Literature:


Bodenschatz, Harald: Berlin Urban Design. A brief history of a european city. Berlin 2010.

Diefendorf, Jeffrey M.: In the wake of war. The Reconstruction of German cities after World War II. New York 1993.

Englert, Alfred: Berlin Modernism. Berlin 2008.