Marzahn and Wolf Eisentraut

My days in an increasingly spring-like Berlin are coming to an end and I will soon be back in not so spring-like Uppsala. I’ve explored Marzahn in the north-east of what used to be East Berlin. I’d hardly been there before but my image of the suburb was not so flattering. I’d expected that it was now a “vulnerable suburb” of the kind we have so many of in Sweden, with the faults and deficiencies of modernism, poor integration with the surrounding landscape, and unembellished architecture in the spirit of Le Corbusier ill adapted to the human need for variation. But the part of Marzahn I saw wasn’t like this at all; there was an older village which the GDR architect(s) had preserved and green open spaces (see photographs on Facebook). Still attractive despite the demolition of important parts of the original project. And there was a museum with a lot of information about one of the main architects, Wolf Eisentraut. He became an architect in the GDR, but, unlike many professional people, survived to continue his career after its end. He had, however, the sad experience of seeing many of his buildings demolished or changed, among them the GDR parliament building, which was replaced by a semi-replica of the war-damaged Hohenzollern palace. However, he didn’t just mourn the passing of his buildings but worked to reshape and give new life to the many prefabricated apartments. I’m greatly looking forward to reading his book “Zweifach war des Bauens Lust” and finding out more about modernism in the GDR period and his later adjustment (and resistance) to reunified Germany.

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