berlin | interbau’57 revisited

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The international architecture exhibition Interbau (IBA’57) opened on 6 July 1957 in Hansa area of West Berlin which was almost completely destroyed during World War II. In preparation for the event, an architecture contest was announced. The overall plan was managed by Otto Banning, and the urban design competition was won by Gerhard Jobst and Willy Kreuer who proposed relaxed space with freely positioned buildings surrounded by greenery. Public parks were a top priority in what was supposed to be the ‘city of tomorrow’. A nearby zoological garden was integrated into the Hansa neighborhood, which was encircled by high-rises, apartment blocks, single-family homes and churches. Shops, restaurants, a movie theater, a library and the subway at Hansa Square were to make up the heart of the district.

Fifty-three architects from around the world were invited to paritcipate in the exhibition with Oscar Niemeyer, Arne Jacobsen, Alvar Aalto and the Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius among them. The House of World Cultures [Haus der Kulturen der Welt], then a convention center, and an apartment block by Le Corbusier [known as Unite d’Habitation de Berlin] in the Charlottenburg district were later integrated into the Interbau project. Full list of buildings here.

The Interbau undertaking apart from being an example of Germany’s postwar modernization is sometimes considered as a side effect of the Cold War. In the early 1950s, West Berliners had been appalled by the view of the new socialist-style apartment and retail buildings in East Berlin. As a counterweight to these large-scale building projects, the West decided to revive the tradition of architectural exhibitions. Interbau as a response to GDR’s reconstruction plan was intended to ‘demonstrate the new, democratic western Germany to the outside world’.

Left: President Heuss with the Interbau model, ph. Willy Pragher, 1957, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Abt. Staatsarchiv Freiburg, W 134 Nr. 048849d. Right: Exhibtion Guide and catalogue, 1957.

The exhibition beetween July and September 1957 was visited by ca. 1.4 milion poeple. The entire Interbau complex received landmark status in 1995. I’ve shot pictures twice in October 2015 and May 2016. All photos, unless otherwise stated are taken by iPhone.

High-rise apartment block, arch. Johannes Hendrik van der Broeck & Jakob Bakema [Netherlands], 1957, Hensaviertel, Berlin.

 

High-rise apartment block, arch. Johannes Hendrik van der Broeck & Jakob Bakema [Netherlands], 1957, Hensaviertel, Berlin.


Akademie der Kunste, arch. Werner Düttmann [Germany], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

High-rise apartment block by arch. Hans Schwippert [Germany], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

High-rise apartment block by arch. Hans Schwippert [Germany], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

High-rise apartment block, arch. Raymond Lopez & Eugène Beaudouin [France], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

High-rise apartment block, arch. Gustav Hassenpflug [Germany], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

Apartment block, arch. Egon Eiermann [Germany], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

 

Apartment block [facade detail], arch. Oscar Niemeyer [Brasil], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

Apartment block [facade detail], arch. Oscar Niemeyer [Brasil], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

Apartment block [detail], arch. Oscar Niemeyer [Brasil], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

Apartment block [staircase detail], arch. Oscar Niemeyer [Brasil], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

Apartment block, arch. Egon Eiermann [Germany], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

Outside Oscar Niemeyer’s apartment block, 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

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Sculpture outside Oscar Niemeyer’s apartment block, ph. Willy Pragher, 1960, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Abt. Staatsarchiv Freiburg, W 134 Nr. 061106a.

Hansaplatz U-Bahn station [mosaic detail], erected 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

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U-Bahnhoff Hansaplatz, Berlin, ph. Willy Pragher, 1957, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Abt. Staatsarchiv Freiburg, W 134 Nr. 048911b.

St. Ansgar Catholic Church, arch. Willy Kreuer [Germany], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

St. Ansgar Catholic Church, arch. Willy Kreuer [Germany], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

Apartment block, arch. Jaenecke & Samuelson [Sweden], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

Apartment block [transparent staircase], arch. Jaenecke & Samuelson [Sweden], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

Apartment block [detail], arch. Jaenecke & Samuelson [Sweden], 1957, Hansaviertel, Berlin.

Unité d’Habitation of Berlin, arch. Le Corbusier, 1957, Berlin-Charlottenburg.




Unité d’Habitation of Berlin, arch. Le Corbusier, 1957, Berlin-Charlottenburg.

 

Haus der Kulturen der Welt [congress hall], arch. Hugh Stubbins [USA], 1957, Tiergarten, Berlin. In the foreground Henry Moore’s bronze sculpture Large Divided Oval: Butterfly (1985-86).

Haus der Kulturen der Welt [detail], arch. Hugh Stubbins [USA], 1957, Tiergarten, Berlin.


Haus der Kulturen der Welt [congress hall], arch. Hugh Stubbins [USA], 1957, Tiergarten, Berlin.

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Newly-built Congress Hall, ph. Willy Pragher, Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Abt. Staatsarchiv Freiburg, W 134 Nr. 048933b

 

Amerika Haus [now C/O Berlin gallery], arch. Bruno Grimmek, 1956-1957, Berlin.

 


Amerika Haus [interior], arch. Bruno Grimmek, 1956-1957, Berlin.


 

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