Anything goes?

Berlin Architecture in the 1980s
29.1.21 – 26.4.21

Steven Holl, Bauwettbewerb Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek/Berliner Zentralbibliothek, nicht realisiert, 1. Preisgruppe – Perspektivischer Schnitt, 1988 © Berlinische Galerie, Foto: Anja E. Witte
Steven Holl, Bauwettbewerb Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek/Berliner Zentralbibliothek, nicht realisiert, 1. Preisgruppe – Perspektivischer Schnitt, 1988 © Berlinische Galerie, Foto: Anja E. Witte

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.

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