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Revisiting Interbau exhibition 1957 in Berlin, from the city of stone to the city of tomorrow

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2019
Farshchi, Kamran
The city of Berlin inaugurated in 1957 the Interbau, the first architectural exhibition after World War II in the central district of Hansaviertel, which was almost entirely ruined during the War. The exhibition aimed to reconstruct the district with intentions to reflect the image of the “free western society” under the motto of "The City of Tomorrow" as a response to the urbanistic propaganda of the socialist east, which had already started its reconstruction programs in the East Berlin, with buildings on Stalinallee. At first a design competition was held for the reconstruction of the district; then a much more comprehensive project with diverse building typologies was developed by inviting numerous national and international architects recognized with their practice of modern architecture. This thesis searches through the roots and history of the Modern Movement, the place of Interbau within the course of modern architectural discourse and its relation with exhibitions held before and after Interbau 1957. Due to the lack of scholarly studies in the English language on Hansaviertel, a comprehensive exposition of the project is aimed, focusing on its site planning, landscape and architectural characteristics. Following a detailed account of the project and its ideological grounds, the research undertakes to produce a descriptive catalog of all housing blocks in the neighborhood. This revisiting of Hansaviertel development after 60 years of its realization not only was informative of a significant instance of modernism, but also provided opportunity to ponder the continual changes in the modernist discourse. In this respect, the IBA- Berlin project developed only 30 years after Interbau 1957, displays sufficient ground for observing the radical shift of paradigm in urban reconstruction and housing design.