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3.14 Berlin Architecture, Culture and City Marketing, 1750 – Present

Instructor: Dr. Christian Welzbacher
Language of instruction:
Course type:
Subject course, B-Track
Contact hours:
48 (6 per day)
Course days
: Tuesday & Friday
ECTS credits
: 5
Course fee:
€ 1,300
Can be combined with all A-Track courses

Course Description

This course seeks to examine the meaning and significance of “architecture” in one of the most historically marked cities of Europe. Berlin has been subject to many waves of renewal, some gradual, some democratic and some totalitarian. All of these have left their traces on the city’s buildings.

Although we may notice or like the appearance of particular buildings we see everyday or as tourists, their size often makes it seem as though “they have always been there.” Still, these buildings are the result of many individual, social and communal decisions. A building says a lot about the ideas held during the time it was built in. Therefore, the course will include formal and stylistic analysis of the architecture as well as focus on the historical, ideological and individual context of the works through the prism of the following question: what kind of message was this building meant to convey? In this perspective, the course gives a wide overview of the development of public and private architecture in Berlin during the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Following an introduction to the urban, political and cultural development and architectural history of Berlin since the middle ages, the Neo-Classical period will be surveyed with special reference to the works of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. This will be followed by classes on the developments of the German Reich after 1871, which was characterized by both modern and conservative tendencies and the manifold activities during the time of the Weimar Republic in the 1920s such as the Housing Revolution. The architecture of the Nazi period will be examined, followed by the developments in East and West Berlin after the Second World War and the traces of the Berlin wall, which are partly re-enacted. The course concludes with a detailed review of the city’s more recent and current architectural profiles, including an analysis of the conflicts concerning the re-design of Berlin after the Cold War and the German reunification.

Several walking tours to historically significant buildings and sites are included (Unter den Linden, Gendarmenmarkt, Potsdamer Platz, Holocaust Memorial, Humboldt-Forum etc.). The course aims to offer a deeper understanding of the interdependence of Berlin’s architecture and the city’s social and political structures in its historical development. It considers Berlin as a model for the highways and by-ways of a European capital in modern times.

Download Syllabus (printable PDF incl. day-to-day schedule)

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