Radically Modern

29 May — 26 Oct 2015 at Berlinische Galerie in Berlin, Germany

8 JUNE 2015
Architektur der Sechziger, Dieter Urbach, Panorama Zentrum Ost Berlin, Detail
Architektur der Sechziger, Dieter Urbach, Panorama Zentrum Ost Berlin, Detail

Architecture and urban design from the sixties shape Berlin's cityscape to this day. Significant urban planning decisions where taken in that decade and there arose numerous, striking architectural works, which today are at risk. Inspired by the spirit of a new beginning and technological euphoria, urban planners and architects designed radical new cityscapes for a modern society. Often unjustly criticized as inhumane or unsightly, important examples from this period of architecture have often already been torn down, disfigured by later alterations, or are threatened with demolition today.

This exhibition is the first detailed overview of the context in which this architecture emerged, examining formal aspects and underlying international influences on the architecture developed in both East and West Berlin and stimulates a reevaluation of this contentious period of construction.

Due to low public opinion, both in and beyond Berlin, the architecture and highly developed transport infrastructure of the 1960s are a neglected and therefore vulnerable legacy. In contrast to iconic individual pieces of architecture, such as the Nationalgalerie by Mies van der Rohe or the Haus des Lehrers by Hermann Henselmann, many buildings are characterized as 'monotone', 'cheap' and 'obsolete', and are seldom well maintained. They therefore currently face the threat of considerable pressure to change or even demolition. The plans and buildings from this period are evidence of historical ideas that, in a clear departure from the architectural language of the Nazi dictatorship, aligned themselves with the 'International Modern' and the ideal vision of a city adapted to the automobile. Belief in progress, an economic boom and the display of power by two opposing systems during the Cold War manifest themselves in the construction of representative architecture, innovative shopping centres, dense high-rise settlements and a road network built for the future.

Well-known and recently discovered original material – including models, films, photographs, plans, collages and manuscripts – illustrate political, social and structural visions for the rebuilding of the ruined metropolis divided by the construction of the Wall. Using selected plans as an example, such as the developments along the former Stalinallee, at Alexanderplatz, at Breitscheidplatz or in the Märkischen Viertel, the objectives, similarities and differences between the construction projects completed by the two different political systems will be examined. Additionally, the extent to which the designs reveal international networking between creative individuals or demonstrate knowledge of international architectural events will be referenced with examples.

Divided into six thematic areas – Arising from the Ruins, City-Space/City-Dream, Techno Geometries, Serial Diversity, Housing Estates and Opposition, Construction:Art – as well as an epilogue and a media room, 250 works by over 80 architects, planning offices, photographers, artists and filmmakers will be presented. Included amongst the architects are: Paul Baumgarten, Candilis Josic Woods and Schiedhelm, Werner Düttmann, Walter Gropius, Hermann Henselmann, Helmut Hentrich and Hubert Petschnigg, Walter Herzog, Josef Kaiser, Roland Korn, Mies van der Rohe, Georg Heinrichs and Hans Christian Müller, Ulrich Müther, Hans Scharoun, Ralf Schüler and Ursulina Schüler-Witte, Manfred Zumpe.