Neo-historical East Berlin: Architecture and Urban Design in the German Democratic Republic 1970-1990, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Neo-historical East Berlin

Architecture and Urban Design in the German Democratic Republic 1970-1990, 1st Edition

By Florian Urban


296 pages

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In the years prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the leaders of the German Democratic Republic planned to construct a city center that was simultaneously modern and historical, consisting of both redesign of old buildings and new architectural developments. Drawing from recently released archival sources and interviews with former key government officials, decision-makers and architects, this book sheds light not only on this unique programme in postmodern design, but also on the debates which were taking place with the Socialist government.


'Florian Urban's Neo-historical East Berlin adds a fascinating new dimension to the central debates about post-war German identity. By examining the legacy of tenement housing and the struggles over modernity and contested ideologies, it uses architecture and urbanism as a window to understand the larger cultural, social, and political movements of the era.' Lawrence J. Vale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA 'Central to Florian Urban's thesis are the great projects of town planning in the last phase of the GDR. Urban gives us a sober and penetrating insight into the political and philosophical background behind these projects, opening up a new understanding of modernity's complex relationship with the times.' Mark Jarzombek, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA 'Florian Urban's book Neo-historical East Berlin is an outstanding work. It is the first thorough treatment of city design in the late phase of the German Democratic Republic. Urban shows that despite the antagonistic political systems in East and West Berlin the principles of urban design were in many respects surprisingly similar. The book is a major contribution to urban design history.' Heinz Reif, Center for Metropolitan Studies (Berlin), Germany '…Urban brings a fresh perspective to East German Studies at a time when there is enough historical perspective to begin to examine the GDR more objectively.' German Studies Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Neo-historical East Berlin; Obsolescence becomes obsolete: Arnimplatz, Arkonaplatz and beyond; 'Rekonstuktion': the Spandauer Vorstadt neighborhood; Prefab old town: Nikolaiviertel; 'Restauration 1900': the Prenzlauer Berg district; Experiencing the center: Freidrichstraße; Re-feeling history: the Platz der Akademie (Gendarmenmarkt); Conclusion: faux past; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author


Florian Urban is a Lecturer at the Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany

About the Series

Ashgate Studies in Architecture

Ashgate Studies in Architecture
The discipline of Architecture is undergoing subtle transformation as design awareness permeates our visually dominated culture. Technological change, the search for sustainability and debates around the value of place and meaning of the architectural gesture are aspects which will affect the cities we inhabit. This series seeks to address such topics, both theoretically and in practice, through the publication of high quality original research, written and visual. Topics to be covered include the following: Architectural history and theory and their relationship to the development of the discipline, building conservation, heritage and creative adaptation. The formal and aesthetic values of architectural design, the diversity of its expression of identity, and its representation in other media. The impact of technological innovation on the materialisation of architecture and the questions surrounding environmental sustainability, experimentation and visionary design The social and psychological context of architectural production, its relationship to occupants, clients and to other creative and professional disciplines, and the political situation in which it is commissioned. Proposals will be welcomed which explore or connect aspects of these themes. Subjects which deal with individual architects, with specific buildings or building types, and the critical interpretation of historical and contemporary architecture from a theoretical or philosophical perspective are particularly encouraged. Architecture's embodiment of technical, social, and aesthetic aspects will also be emphasised.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Regional Planning