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
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: FreidrichstraÃŸe; Re-feeling history: the Platz der Akademie (Gendarmenmarkt); Conclusion: faux past; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.