Cain and Abel: German urban modernisation movement 1968-1998

Kolakowski, Marcin (1998) Cain and Abel: German urban modernisation movement 1968-1998. In: Habitat w regionie Euroregion Jelenia Góra –Golitz –Liberec Habitat 96. Oficyna Wydawnicza Politechniki Wrocławskiej, pp. 147-162. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

German Urban Modernisation Movement 1968-1998
KAIN i Abel-1997-MMK1.pdf - Whole Document

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1 Introduction

Adam and Eve had two children: Cain and Abel. Cain ploughed the ground, Abel was a shepherd. Cain understood the forces of nature, Abel understood the living creatures and their world. When we take a look at today’s world we can see the sons of both Cain and Abel. The first ones are carpenters, technicians, engineers and mechanics. The latter are teachers, doctors, artists and sociologists. When two mothers came to Salomon arguing about which of them a child belongs to, he turned out to be a psychologist worthy of Abel’s house. He ordered to cut the child in half knowing that the real mother would never let this happen.
But when King Salomon wanted to build a temple on the slopes of Jerusalem, he needed a constructor. He then asked Hiram, who came from Cain’s house. He knew how to put stones together to make the construction stand for ages. Cain did not think about the social results when he constructed a machine. Even if Abel knew about sociology, he couldn’t much without the techniques. This is why they needed each other so much. Cain had to learn to be Abel’s child and Abel Cain’s. Generation 68 created two trends which were seemingly hostile despite living side by side. Seemingly – because in reality they needed each other.

In German consciousness and language, there is a definition of ‘Generation 68’.The idea is connected with a turning point in the Germany’s post-war history. The generation not only rejected the old values but also faced the need of defining new aims. The changing picture of German mentality affected architecture and town planning too and it was reflected in the design culture. The changes were so important that many contemporary trends have their roots in this time. In the ideological pot of the dreamers’ generation, two trends may be distinguished:
• The first one, which may be called techno-authoritative, was an effect of fascination with opportunities that were offered by the new civilisation. Creators of this trend made experiments with new technologies, emphasising their possibilities and tried to enchant with their beauty.
• The second may be called eco-social. It emphasised the connections of architecture with social aspects and believed in the spontaneous power of non-architects. Architects of this trend propagated the method of participation and broadened the role of an architect who now became a consultant, an initiator-mediator between the world of technology, bureaucracy and the end-user.

Only in the 1960s did the two trends get close, yet coming from the same source they split up into two antagonistic approaches. Between those two polarities, an ideological war would take place in the next decades. The dynamics and the change of the idea of design methods may be illustrated by the changing concepts concerning town planning designs: ‘Sanierung’, ‘Erneuerung’, ‘Behutsame Erneuerung’, ‘Entwicklung’, ‘Entwicklung durch Innenentwicklung’ and finally ‘Wandel ohne Wachstum’.

2 Revitalisation

The first confrontation of these trends was provoked by the events connected with ‘Baufforderunggesetz’ that was started in 1971. On the one hand, it was an ideal setting in which the architects and town planners could demonstrate their skills when they replaced the buildings that had been knocked down with huge blocks of flats, mega-structures and huge town investments like ‘Ihmmezentrum’ in Hannover. On the other hand, it caused protests which were an unprecedented phenomenon. Fortunately, in Hannover the citizen initiative (‘Burger Initiative’) supported by architects managed to stop the knocking-down and create an alternative for the revitalisation of the district. A similar situation was to be observed in many other German towns. Huge new buildings were replacing old districts that had been knocked down before and were the sign of new technological and economic possibilities. However, they hardly took into account the social aspects. This led to a conflict with the architects from the eco-social trend.

3 Revival

As the dispute between the town planners, municipal authorities and investors became more and more ideological, there emerged a need for an objective assessment of the tearing-downs and new constructions. The aim was to prepare an optimal strategy (Optimale Strategie). In this context, the research made by the Hannover Institute fur socialbezogene Landschaftsplannung and similar institutions from Hamburg, Essen and Berlin was very important. The paper presents the results in the context of the Polish situation. The most interesting was the research started by Deutchen Forschungsgemeinschaft under the leadership of Rudiger Bucholtz and Marie Spitthofer. One of their ‘Untersuchungsbereich’ was to compare the poorest, low-standard suburbs for the working class inhabitants, such as Berlin-Kreuzberg, Berlin-Moabit, Hannover-Linden and Hamburg-Altona. The researchers stated that the most reasonable solution in districts like those is ‘Entkernung’. This might intensify the social contacts, expand the green areas and thus increase the intensity of their usage. The action of ‘Entkernung’ in Berlin and Hannover lodged social protests and did not bring the expected results. After 10 years, M.Spitthofer subjected herself to criticism and admitted that she had made a mistake. In the magazine ‘Das Gartenamt’ she admitted that the then conclusions turned out to be a failure.

4 Careful town revival (Behutsame Stadterneuerung)

In 1979, the voice of protesting inhabitants and the eco-social trends was heard for the first time. That year, the next IBA started as a continuation of Berlin Architectural Exhibitions. It was entitled ‘Innenstadt als Wohnort’ and the end with its summary was planned for 1987. One of its main aims was to listen to the arguments of the protesting inhabitants and to find alternative renovation solutions. Many organisations fighting for the inhabitants’ rights came into being as a result of the exhibition. One of the most important ones was STRN ‘Gesellschaft der Behutsame Stadterneuerung’ GmbH, which was formed from IBA-Alt on 1 January 1984. Their programme encompassed 80 high-rise blocks in the East Berlin cut off from Kreuzburg town by a motorway. Their methods developed throughout years became a symbol of the new thinking. The organisation and its programme was to become a turning point in German architectural thought. Their 12-point programme was to be heard far outside Kreuzburg.

5 Inward development (Innenentwicklung)

We are now at the time of the next IBA which is devoted to the Ruhr district issues and is to be officially summed up in 1999. It is the proof of how the ‘Behutsame Stadt Erneuerung’ ideas have been polished up and became one of the main trends in the design culture in Germany, not to say its showcase. The fact that IBA, with the motto ‘Wandel ohne Wachstum’ (change without growth), represented Germany at the VI Architektur Biennale in Venice in 1996 may be the proof of it. The director of the new IBA, professor Karl Ganser, stresses the fact that town development does not need to accompany town expansion. The development of towns should rather be formed as inward development (‘Innenenticklung’) which is an improvement of the already existing ‘tissue’. The thesis that revalorization became the architects’ target to a much greater degree that building of ‘the new’ contradicts the idea of techno-authoritative trend of the 1970s and is a proof of the change in mentality. Although the latter of the trends mentioned is still alive, it is more and more rarely observed in the residential construction. At the same time, one can observe the two trends becoming ever closer. The word sustainability becomes the most commonly used both in relation to the tasks set in the western parts of Germany and to those concerning blocks of flats in the east parts. It defines architecture as a process.

Additional Information:Habitat '96 : seminarium, warsztaty architektoniczne, Czarne, 14-19 października 1996
Keywords:Urban Design, Urban Regeneration, Urban planning, bmjtype
Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K421 Urban Planning
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:18005
Deposited On:27 Jul 2015 09:51

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