My final paper was centered around the city of Berlin and how its city planning was affected by the division of Germany in 1949 and its eventual division by the Berlin Wall in 1961. In the post-war era Berlin became the focal point of the Cold War and the tensions between capitalism and socialism could be seen clearly in the economy, social life and urban design policies. In East Berlin, they planned according to the three features of Socialist Realism:
- Socialist Realism is the consistent, necessary, and sole expression of the socialist ideology
- Socialist Realism is the expression of a totalitarian social structure and an anachronism
- Socialist Realism is the heir of the Classical tradition in architecture and implies a critique of Modernism.
In addition to this, East Berlin used the 16 Principles of Planning as a guide to planning socialist cities in the GDR. These principles highlighted three important urban elements, plazas and major streets (Stalinallee and Alexanderplatz), significant buildings ( 365m high TV tower building) and hierarchically structured residential areas.
In West Berlin, the ‘International Style’ was utilized to rebuild the city. The United States even brought German planners back to the US to study American urbanism. West Berlin also held planning competitions in order to rebuild the city. In 1957 the Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) rebuilt the Hansaviertel residential zone – contrary to the Stalinallee project. The planning of this neighbourhood was based on a “city in the park” viewpoint which was counter to East Berlins. The buildings in the neighbourhood were seen as a success but the IBA project as a whole was viewed as a failure as it involved to many self-referential buildings of various famous architects. In 1987 the IBA was organized again, this time with two principle concerns ‘careful urban renewal’ and ‘critical reconstruction’. These projects were successful as they focused on a larger area of the city rather than a specific neighbourhood.
By analyzing the urban planning and the major projects of both sides of Berlin, it could be inferred that the capitalist and socialist governments both used the same device, transformation of the urban space, to prove their success and impact in their territories.