Holdings and Cataloguing

The Scientific Collections are the most important specialised archive for recent East German building and planning history with a focus on the GDR era. They are a repository for the estates of architects and planners in particular and include drawings, plans, written documents and photos. Since the Scientific Collections were founded, the archive material has been continuously catalogued. Since 2021, the documents have been indexed using the newly acquired archive software "ActaPro" and "EasyDB" (for image indexing and digitalisation). The new online portal "Stadt-Raum-Geschichte" makes it easier to search and view all catalogued archive documents.

Categories of Holdings in the Scientific Collections

Institut für Städtebau und Architektur (ISA) / Institute for Urban Design and Architecture (ISA)

The Institute for Urban Design and Architecture (ISA) of the GDR Building Academy fulfilled central functions in the areas of basic research and assessment and was an important player in the GDR construction industry. In 1992, today's IRS was founded as the successor organisation to the ISA with a different profile. Working and research documents of the ISA form the basis of the holdings of the Scientific Collections.

The ISA's holdings can only be viewed on site in Erkner. More information here.

Bund der Architekten der DDR (BdA) / Association of Architects of the GDR (BdA)

Founded in 1952 and dissolved at the end of 1990, the Bund der Architekten (BdA) was the GDR-wide professional association of architects, landscape architects, urban planners, etc. Its members were organised in district, district and company groups. Its members were organised into district, district and company groups. The BdA documents in the Scientific Collections mainly date from the 1970s and 1980s. A further, larger part of the BdA's records can be found in the Federal Archives in Berlin (owned by the Foundation Archive of the Parties and Mass Organisations of the GDR).

The BdA holdings in the IRS are subdivided into written documents from the presidium and office (holding B_1) and the membership register with approx. 7,000 membership applications (holding B_2). The latter is only accessible to a limited extent for reasons of personal rights; portrait photos of and biographical information on over 1,700 BdA members can at least be accessed and researched on the online portal "" as well as on the DigiPortA portal:

Bequests and personal collections

Thanks to their dedicated acquisition activities, the Scientific Collections now hold over 150 bequests and estates of GDR architects and planners from all disciplines. These offer a wealth of valuable information on the most diverse aspects of architecture, urban development, landscape, transport and regional planning in the GDR. These holdings of private origin contain mainly working documents, less often personal documents, and are organised according to the rules for the indexing of estates and autographs (RNA) into the categories of works, correspondence, life documents and collections.

Image archive

The Scientific Collections hold a large number of photos and slides on various aspects of GDR construction. At the heart of the collection are the image templates for the still important work Architekturführer DDR and other photo collections from the work of the Institute for Urban Planning and Architecture, including on new housing estates. There are also numerous photos and slides from the estates of individual architects.


Collection items

The collections acquired since 1992 include materials from the former DFG project "Settlements in Brandenburg", book and journal collections, architectural models and audiovisual media.


Corporate records

The collection contains selected planning documents from individual GDR companies, including the former housing construction combine (WBK) Cottbus, which were not taken over by state archives.


Closing documentation to the Palast der Republik in Berlin

This is the so-called final documentation of the former Palace of the Republic in the form of mostly detailed plans, drawings and information. The palace, as a particularly important GDR building, was extensively documented in this way after its construction. The documents were then taken over by the Bundesimmobilienanstalt and transferred to the IRS in 2023.

The collection can currently only be researched on site in Erkner.

IRS projects

This collection contains documents on selected IRS projects which, for thematic reasons, fit in with the archive's collection specialisations. These include, for example, studies from the 1990s on the regional development of Berlin and Brandenburg. The most recent sub-collection is the documentation of the BMBF joint project "Stadtwende" on urban protest movements in the late GDR, which was completed in 2023.


Städtebaulicher Denkmalschutz / Urban Monument Protection

The collection contains extensive material on the federal funding programme for urban monument protection (in East Germany), which was significantly accompanied and supported by the IRS in the 1990s and 2000s, at times also through the establishment of the federal transfer office of the same name at the institute. In addition, there are documents from various predecessor, pilot and accompanying projects, starting with materials from the GDR era, from the predecessor institute of the IRS, on research into city centres.

The collection can currently only be researched on site at the IRS in Erkner.

Researching in the Holdings of the Scientific Collections

Non-digitalised holdings can be researched on site in the Scientific Collections in Erkner. You can find more information on how to use them here.

Digitised holdings of the Scientific Collections can be found here in the online portal