Anything Goes?

Berlin Architecture in the 1980s

Berlin boasts a unique concentration of noteworthy buildings from the 1980s, and more than 30 years later they deserve a review. The colourful diversity of this architectural vocabulary challenged previous ideas of living in the modern world.

Widely labelled “postmodern”, it drew on structural typologies and stylistic devices from the past and tested alternative urban lifestyles. In the run-up to the celebrations marking 750 years since the original town charter, the entries submitted to the “Internationale Bauausstellung” in West Berlin in 1984/87 and the “Bauausstellung” of 1987 in East Berlin turned the city into a kind of architectural laboratory observed from well beyond its boundaries. Even at the design stage, some were already attracting criticism as artistically misguided, and significant examples of this era in architecture have since disappeared, been revamped or else threatened by demolition. This exhibition is the first attempt to show who and what set their stamp on the buildings and visions developed for East and West Berlin in the final decade before the Wall fell.

Participating architects (selected): Hinrich and Inken Baller; Christian Enzmann and Bernd Ettel; John Hejduk with Moritz Müller; Josef Paul Kleihues; Michael Kny and Thomas Weber; Hans Kollhoff; Dorothea Krause; Rob Krier; Peter Meyer; Frei Otto with Hermann Kendel, Martin Küenzlen, Günther Ludewig; Manfred Prasser; Günter Stahn; Helmut Stingl; James Stirling and Michael Wilford; Peter Stürzebecher, Kjell Nylund and Christof Puttfarken; Oswald Mathias Ungers; Solweig Steller-Wendland.

The exhibition has been funded by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation).

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