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MUDD 21 - City Visions II

Kreuzberg and the International Building Exhibition 1987 Jim Hudson

West Berlin 1979: for almost two decades stranded in East Germany as an ‘island’ of the West, with little hope it seemed of the city, or the nation, ever being reunited. As part of the ‘capital of the Cold War’, both divided halves of the city had already seen exemplar urban renewal projects – the Hansaviertel in the West, and Stalinallee (now Karl-MarxAllee) in the East. But if parts of West Berlin had played host to some of the most utopian design of the time, elsewhere – the southeastern district of Kreuzberg – was a living example of some of the worst and most cynical urban development. The area had long been in decline, with its largely 19th century housing blocks falling apart, and a large and poor immigrant population. At the same time, however, cheap rents and other factors (such as residents of West Berlin being able to avoid the military draft) fuelled Kreuzberg as a centre of political and social counter-culture, an area for artists, musicians and radical thinking, that importantly also included experimentation with squats and new ways of communal living. The 1970s had seen redevelopment the centre of the district with the Neues Kreuzberger Zentrum– a series of largescale modernist housing blocks designed in anticipation of a major freeway which would have destroyed great swathes of the 19th century city grain, a destructive ‘urban renewal’ scheme typical of western cities at the time. But in the end the freeway never happened, and Kreuzberg was left with the vast development that had no integration with the urban grain around it, and became a ‘sink estate’ for the area’s poorer immigrant (predominantly Turkish) population. In the 1980s, however, Kreuzberg became a major scene of Berlin’s remarkable post-modern International Building Exhibition known as the IBA, the ‘1987 Internationale BauAustellung’ (see synopsis of IBA, p. 103). A huge number of varied projects were carried out as part of the IBA program, some of which added new structures, and some of which simply improved what was already there, but often with the involvement of the existing residents. Projects studied on the MUDD21 walking tour through this part of Berlin included a re-adoption of the old Berlin system of blocks around courtyards, such as the work by Hinrich and Inken Baller on Fraenkelufer. This brought innovative apartment design and landscaping into the core of the block, which in the past had been engulfed by small-scale factories and industrial sheds. Next door, a renovation scheme saw the refurbishment of a nineteenth century housing block that had been partly demolished. Saved through direct action, the remnant fabric

Jim Hudson


Mudd folio final 02 mar 2016  
Mudd folio final 02 mar 2016  

City Visions: Method & Design Chicago | Berlin | Sydney International Studio workshops from the Masters of Urban Development & Design degree...