Flaws of the past

An article I found here (German only) discusses the situation and future of (Plattenbauten) dense dwellings out of prefabricated concrete slabs built in the 60s and 70s in Western Germany.
Even though in the former GDR, the amount of those buildings, the decreasing material quality etc. produced an image for the whole country, but also in the Western part, those ‘worker’s lockers’ have been built, with from an contemporary point of view, the same mistakes, and the same result.
there are some really interesting videos up showing both Western and Eastern projects.
This one is from the Eastern city of Schwedt, which lost nearly half of its inhabitants after the wall came down:

While this one is a documentary about the new concept of constructing a complete New City in the Coal mining Ruhr area, called New City Wulfen. Unfortunately, it is only in German, but if you do understand it, you sure will have to laugh at some of the ad-style, enthusiastic comments they have on that super-modern way of living and building:

On the other hand, it indeed has some interesting experimental thoughts on how to generate a city:
1. There is only one TV-Antenna that was supposed to serve for all the 10.000 households, not to disturb the image of the city by a forest of antennas on the roof ad provide constant good reception for everybody.

2. The only energy source the new city has is electricity. Therefore, there are no chimneys, no pollution.
3. the city works completely without traffic lights, the streets are organized in a honeycomb-way with regular street rules. Footpathes cross the streets by tunnels or bridges, so even for that, no traffic light is needed.

4. Even in the late 60’s, the architects were trying to learn from mistakes from early Plattenbau projects by designing a diverse appearance of the large otherwise rather monotonous blocks and creating a mixture of different types and sizes of apartments to create a mixture of inhabitants.

Also interesting is the reason for its continuous failure:
The coal mine didn’t succeed and only created 450 jobs. The city which was supposed to have 50.000 or more inhabitants by 1990, today, there are 11.000 people living there.
Thus, the whole prediction and success of project was so dependent on the development of one economical foundation, that as this parameter vanished, the whole project failed. Still, I think it would be interesting to know, “What if….”

Find out more about Wulfen and other Western and Eastern German Plattenbau-Siedlungen on youtube:

Neue Stadt Wulfen, Plattenbau, Schwedt, Hellersdorf, Marzahn, Märkisches Viertel


~ by aboutarchitecture on August 20, 2007.

One Response to “Flaws of the past”

  1. […] 22nd, 2007 by aboutarchitecture This one is more or less the sequel to the post I wrote about huge experimental or just practical dwelling projects: a tribute to the Utopian urban […]

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