The invention of the historic city : building the past in East Berlin, 1970-1990
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
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The idea of a "historic city" is a rather recent phenomenon. As a conceptual framework, it evolved over the course of the 1970s and 1980s from the intellectual foundations of modernist urban design. This is especially well illustrated in East Berlin, where a heterogeneous group of politicians, architects, and scholars called for an urban environment that provides the individual experience of historicity. Their ideas were most prominently infused in a series of showcase projects built during the 1980s. For the celebration of Berlin's 750th anniversary in 1987, some of the long-despised late-19th-century tenement neighborhoods were remodeled and fitted out with the insignia of historic every-day life. In addition, a number of representative architectural ensembles were built that made use of different historic styles. The invention of the historic city collapsed the memories of different historic periods into a generic notion of "the past." This process relied on a specific elasticity of the language employed by designers and theorists. Over the course of the 1970s and 1980s, terms such as preservation or reconstruction retained a positive connotation while simultaneously time undergoing a radical change in meaning. In the same way, the quasi-biological conception of the city as a body with a life cycle, where "obsolete" neighborhoods had to be regularly demolished, was gradually suspended. Through both remodeling and new construction, the East German leaders and their collaborators initiated a renaissance of once neglected neighborhoods, which after the German reunification became prime locations for upscale housing and retail.(cont.) Construction policy before and after the German reunification therefore has to be seen as a continuous development rather than a break. Despite the different political and economic system in the German Democratic Republic, East Berlin design politics during the 1970s and 1980s paralleled the approaches in Western countries, where real and imagined urban history was increasingly commodified and marketed to local elites and tourists. The historic city also became the conceptual background for a widely practiced exegesis of historic residues, through which Berlin's middle classes claimed social and political legitimacy.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2006.Includes bibliographical references (p. -382).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology