The former Stalinallee (now Karl-Marx-Allee) is asignificant architectural landmark and important example of the art of urban planning in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It extends 2.3 kilometers from Alexanderplatz via Strausberger Platz to the Frankfurt Gate. A magnificent street in the GDR’s capital, Stalinallee was built in two construction phases from the early 1950s.
The buildings of Construction Phase I (1951–58) between Strausberger Platz and the Frankfurt Gate are based on the socialist classicism of the Soviet Union, also known as the Confectionery Style, following the Sixteen Principles of Urban Planning, which were passed in 1950 as the consequence of a state excursion of top functionaries to the Soviet Union. Hans Scharoun, had already provided a plan for this area, the Friedrichshain Residential Cell, in 1949 as part of his General Plan for the Reconstruction of Berlin, but it had been rejected as “Western and decadent”, so that only two loggia buildings were built according to Scharoun’s original plans. The additional buildings on Stalinallee were built from 1951 based on a development plan by Egon Hartmann, Richard Paulick, Hanns Hopp, Karl Souradny, and Kurt W. Leucht—the prizewinners in a design competition.
Seventy percent of the construction materials for Stalinallee—then the largest construction site in the GDR—consisted of wartime rubble.
Five seven-to-ten-story palaces for workers, two tower high-rises at the Frankfurt Gate, as well as stores and cultural and gastronomical offerings, were built very rapidly on this prestigious boulevard with its striking public squares, city gates, and projecting pavilion buildings. All of the buildings relate to Henselmann’s high-rise. Two-thirds of the apartments, all equipped with modern conveniences, were rented to Trümmerfrauen (women who cleared postwar rubble), construction workers, and those working to rebuild the city; the rest went to white-collar workers and academics.
The buildings of Construction Phase I (1959–71), between Strausberger Platz and Alexanderplatz, represented a clear demarcation in terms of urban planning and a turn to simple, low-cost industrial construction methods. Following Stalin’s death, the reduced architectural language was another clear sign of distancing from the past and a new direction in urban planning; Stalinallee was renamed Karl-Marx-Allee in 1961. The collective of Werner Dutschke and Edmund Collein was responsible for the development plan. In addition to residential buildings with more than 5,200 apartments, striking buildings of postwar modernism were built. They include the Kino Kosmos (1960–62) and Kino International (1961–63), both by Josef Kaiser and Heinz Aust, and the Café Moskau (1961–64) by Josef Kaiser and Horst Bauer. The ensemble terminates to the west in another building by Hermann Henselmann: the House of the Teachers (Haus des Lehrers) was built as a steel-skeleton construction with a curtain façade (1961–64) and at twelve stories was the first high-rise on Alexanderplatz. [KL/HY]
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