Interbau Berlin

Competing Systems

In 1948, Berlin was a divided city – the political split after the Second World War was finalised with currency reform and the blockade. The eastern and western sectors also chose different approaches when it came to urban development. Stalinallee in East Berlin and the West Berlin Building Exhibition Interbau in the Hansaviertel district are an expression of this division.

Berlin was destroyed in the war. To prepare for reconstruction, a delegation of leading architects and urban developers from the GDR travelled to Moscow. Based on instructions from their Soviet colleagues, they formulated the 16 principles of urban development. The centre of Berlin and Stalinallee were planned as the central backbone of the capital in just a few weeks. Monumental residential complexes for workers were created with historic stylistic elements derived from the formal language of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, with Hermann Henselmann as head architect. The fundamental principles of traditional urban architecture were observed for the urban development processes. Today, Karl-Marx-Allee, as this avenue has been known since 1961, stands as a cultural monument of European importance.

In response to Stalinallee, Interbau 1957 presented a model for the city of tomorrow. Under the leadership of Otto Bartning, the new, upper-class Hansaviertel district became a prestige project to demonstrate the superiority of the West over the East. Based on an urban development competition, 53 internationally renowned architects were selected, including Alvar Aalto, Johannes Hendrik van der Brook, Jacob Berend Bakema and Pierre Vago. The old block structure was replaced by a mixture of high-rise and low-rise buildings in the heart of a park landscape. The Hansaviertel district is now considered an example of large-scale modernist refurbishment for urban developers.

Project area:
Interbau Berlin

Architects, Interbau (among others): Alvar Aalto, Jacob Berend Bakema, Luciano Baldessari, Paul Baumgarten, Johannes Hendrik van der Brook, Eugène Beaudouin, Le Corbusier, Werner Düttmann, Egon Eiermann, Kay Fisker, Alois Giefer, Reinhold Gotthilf, Günther Gottwald, Walter Gropius, Gustav Hassenpflug, Hubert Hoffmann, Willy Kreuer, Günter Hönow, Arne Jacobsen, Fritz Jaenecke, Johannes Krahn, Ludwig Lemmer, Raymond Lopez, Wassili Luckhardt, Eduard Ludwig, Hermann Mäckler, Wolf von Möllendorff, Hans Müller, Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer, Hansrudolf Plarre, Sep Ruf, Sten Samuelson, Paul Schneider-Esleben, Franz Schuster, Hans Schwippert, Otto Senn, Hugh Stubbins, Max Taut, Sergius Ruegenberg, Pierre Vago, Gerhard Weber, Ernst Zinsser

Source and further information:
Werner Durth, Paul Sigel: Baukultur. Spiegel gesellschaftlichen Wandels, Berlin 2010.
M:AI Museum für Architektur und Ingenieurkunst NRW, IBA Hamburg (Hrsg.): IBA meets IBA. Eine Ausstellung zur 100jährigen Geschichte der Internationalen Bauausstellungen, (o.J.).

Entrance to Interbau in the Hansaviertel District, 1957 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0054972 / Image: Willy Kiel
Aerial photo of the Hansaviertel District, 1962 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0083467 / Image: Karl-Heinz Schubert
A cable car runs across the Interbau site. The new building by Fritz Jaenecke und Sten Samuelson can be seen in the background, 1957 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0055978 / Image: Horst Siegmann
The Hansaviertel District with visitors during Interbau. The new building by Pierre Vago can be seen in the background, 1957 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0055952 / Image: Horst Siegmann
Hall of special exhibition “die stadt von morgen” shown as part of Interbau, 1957 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0054926 / Image: Willy Kiel
Orientation sign for the new buildings in the Hansaviertel District curing Interbau, 1957 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0016908 / Image: Willy Kiel
Nine-storey residential building by Walter Gropius, 1957 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0056086 / Image: Horst Siegmann
Eight-storey residential building by Pierre Vago, 1957 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0055666 / Image: Horst Siegmann
View of the Hansaviertel district from the exhibition crate. The residential building by Alvar Aalto can be seen in the foreground, 1957 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0054662 / Image: Horst Siegmann
View from Haus des Kindes to Strausberger Platz and Stalinallee, 1956. Image: Horst E. Schulze
View of Stalinallee, 1954 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0030810 / Image: Gert Schütz
Eight-storey residential building by Egon Eiermann in the Hansaviertel District, 1992 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0030810 / Image: Edmund Kasperski
16-storey residential building by Raymond Lopez and Eugène Beaudouin in the Hansaviertel district, 1992 © Landesarchiv Berlin, F Rep. 290 Nr. 0030810 / Image: Edmund Kasperski