Tactile Model

Diversity in Unity

Architects in East Berlin were limited to systems of prefabricated concrete slabs to realize their ideas. Because the common WBS 70 building type was undecorated, planners developed options for the serial production of intricate parts for façade decorations. In the Nikolai District and on the Platz der Akademie (now Gendarmenmarkt), for example, entire blocks were built according to historical models using prefabricated parts. The façade of the Friedrichstadt Palace was also designed with applied ornaments and panes of glass. The letters on the roof were added in the 1990s. The individual façades of the tactile model can be assembled, even in entirely new combinations.

Modell+Design, Technische Universität Berlin
Design: Linus Werner

Captions from top to bottom

  • Wohnungsbauserie (WBS [Apartment Building Series]) 70
  • Residential and commercial building in the Nikolai District
  • Residential and commercial building on Gendarmenmarkt
  • Friedrichstadt Palace

Introduction to the Exhibition Section

Beautiful Old City

As in many other countries, the “historical city” was increasingly a theme in the GDR from the 1970s. One essential reason for the new focus on architectural traditions was a desire for a more visible presence of the past. Likewise, an enduring housing shortage played an important role, because, for the first time, concepts for redevelopment also addressed old buildings, which had been neglected until then.

The implementation of that project was most clearly evident in the capital of the GDR. Since the city’s division, Berlin’s historical core had been located there. On the occasion of the celebration of the city’s 750th anniversary planned for 1987, the GDR wanted to call attention to this advantage over West Berlin. Valuable remnants of the old town were restored, reconstructed, and supplemented by new buildings. The desired reference to history was usually made by means of façade constructions, whose play with gables, bay windows, and reliefs followed a traditional picture of the European city. The goal of this partially free form of urban repair was to produce a recognizable connection to the past. It was intended to give people a sense of identify and belonging—efforts that also influenced the continued redesign of Berlin after German reunification.