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

Re/Inventing Berlin – Architecture after 1945

Taught by Alessa K. Paluch

Tuesday, 14:00 - 16:00 (please note irregular seminar dates below), Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, Room 0323-26 

Seminar dates: 17.11.15, 24.11.15, 1.12.15, 08.12.15, 15.12.15, 22.12.15, 05.01.16, 12.01.16, 19.01.16, 26.01.16, 02.02.16, 09.02.16

Language requirements: min. English B2



Course Description

At the end of World War II Berlin , the former capital of Hitler's Third Reich, 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, cultural and social 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.

Course Requirements for 5 ECTS

  • Regular Attendance
    Attendance Policy: You may not miss more than 2 sessions. The missing of a session should be communicated in advance via email. If a third session is missed a make-up-work can be arranged. Missing four times means failing the class.
  • Obligatory Reading
    Texts and Learning Material are provided via moodle.
  • Presentation (about 15 minutes)
    Presentation's topic will be chosen out of the seminar's schedule at the end of the second session.
  • Architecture Critique (1-2 pages)
    Requirements and Formalities of how to write an Architecture Critique will be discussed at the workshop „How to write a good critique?“ At the end of the seminar the critiques will also be published on the seminar's blog www.berlinperspectivesonarchitecture.com.
  • Essay (5 pages)
    The Essay is meant to be a practice in academic research and writing. Students will be encouraged to find a topic fitting their interests and studies at their home university. Attention: There will be no excuse for Plagiarism – intended or unintended – and anyone who is find out trying to cheat (that's what it is!) won't be accounted for his or her work.


Special Focus

This Seminar consists of three method elements: 1. the „classical“ sessions in the classroom with students' presentations, lectures, group discussions and group work, 2. the on site-meetings, designed as attentive walks with a special observation focus and 3. workshops with a focus on group work, self organisational learning and presentation.
On Site-Meetings: sites are located within the city, no additional costs for students!


  • Barnstone, Deborah Ascher: A transparent state. Architecture and Politics in Postwar Germany. London 2005.
  • Bell, Daniel A./de-Shalit, Avner: Berlin. The City of (In)Tolerance. In: Dies.: The Spirit of Cities. Why the Identity of a City matters in a Global Age. S. 191 – 221.
  • Bernt, Matthias; Grell, Britta; Holm, Andrej (Hrsg.): The Berlin Reader. A Compendium on Urban Change and Activism. Bielefeld 2013. 
  • 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.
  • Düwel, Jörn: 'Wir sind das Bauvolk'. S. 53-58. In: Wagenaar, Cor; Dings, Mieke; Linders, Jannes; De Jong-Daziel, Robin (Hrsg.): Ideals in Concrete. Exploring Central and Eastern Europe. Rotterdam 2004.
  • Goldberger, Paul: Why architecture matters. New Haven 2011.
  • Ladd, Brian: The Ghosts of Berlin. Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape. Chigaco 1997.
  • Lampugnani, Vittorio Magnago: Berlin Tomorrow. International Architectural Visions. London 1991.
  • Sorkin, Michael: Advice to critics. In: Ders.: All over the Map. Writing on Buildings and Cities. London/New York 2011. S. 147-150.
  • Urban, Florian: Neo-historical East Berlin. Architecture and Urban Design in the German Democratic Republic 1970 – 1990. Ashgate, Farnham, Surrey 2009. S.99 – 141.
  • Urban, Florian: Slab versus Tenements in East and West Berlin. In: Ders.: Tower and Slab. Histories of global mass housing. Routledge, Oxon/New York 2012. S. 59-78.
  • van Gelderen, Mikel: Unabashed, shamelessness Plattenbau, relic of the past? In: Wagenaar, Cor; Dings, Mieke; Linders, Jannes; De Jong-Daziel, Robin (Hrsg.): Ideals in Concrete. Exploring Central and Eastern Europe. Rotterdam 2004. S. 125-131.
  • Wise, Michael Z.: Capital Dilemma. Germany's Search for a New Architecture of Democracy. New York 1998.