Research Group

Urbanisation Trajectories and Cultures of Planning in the 20th Century

The Research Group investigates processes of spatial development and planning history from a contemporary historical perspective. A particular focus is laid on the analysis of the history of society and planning in both German states in their European contexts. The research group analyses the socio-spatial dynamics and development paths of cities and neighbourhoods with a focus on planning interventions and practices of appropriation by social groups and political initiatives. The research group works interdisciplinarily at the interface of urban, planning and architectural history. Special attention is paid to the biographies and patterns of action of architects, planners and civil society actors, as well as to the practices of circulation of planning models and their implementation across borders and political levels. The legacy of historical processes for actual socio-spatial conflicts and the concepts of digital history in research and archiving strategies form important points of reference for the investigations.

Ongoing Projects

The interdisciplinary summer school is directed at 15 students (with bachelor's and master's degrees) from the fields of history, urban research, architecture, political science and other related fields. It's objective is to give students a detailed insight into the concept of the "socialist city" from a comparative and transnational perspective. On the one hand, various aspects such as urban planning, architecture, housing and social infrastructure, but also monument preservation and state violence will be contextualized and discussed by the experts. The final part of the summer school will deal with the heritage and memory of socialist cities. On the other hand, the knowledge gained should be deepened through the presentation of students’ own projects as well as thematic excursions. more

Cities affected by the Second World War had to redefine their urban self-image and undertake a revision of their building stock in the face of the impending or real bombing catastrophe. Maps and mapping played a special role in this. The research network "Mapping and Transforming. Interdisciplinary Access to City Maps as a Visual Medium of Urban Transformation in Central and Eastern Europe, 1939-1949" explores functions of city maps in transformation processes for selected cities in Central and Eastern Europe in interdisciplinary cooperation, from the perspective of the humanities and engineering sciences, social geography as well as computer science. The sub-project at the IRS combines heterogeneous and little-researched data sets, maps and archival material to investigate the transformation of selected cities in East Germany and communist Poland. more

“Authenticity” as the purportedly “original”, “pure”, or “true” character of persons, objects or practices has become a major public discourse, a powerful driver of heritage debates and cultural change and a key research issue in the humanities. From theatre and museums studies to heritage conservation and the historical sciences scholars dispute the ways in which authenticity indicates and triggers cultural change in modern societies. While there is a broad consensus among constructivist approaches that historical authenticity was and is always socially and culturally produced, and that there is no such thing as “the pure” or “the original” in terms of materiality, the case of built heritage seems to challenge this approach. Here strong academic and public controversies have emerged on the role and impact of materiality for authenticity. This project is the first to systematically analyse patterns of such discourses in a transnational historiographical perspective. more

Architektonische und städtebauliche Planung war in der DDR in Planungskollektiven organisiert, die dem Institutionssystem der DDR entsprechend in volkseigene Planungsbetriebe integriert waren freiberufliche Architekten gab es nur noch in verschwindend geringer Anzahl. Das Projekt untersucht diese Planungskollektive in ihrer administrativen Einbettung und Funktionsweise im politischen System einerseits und in Hinblick auf die künstlerischen Produktionsweisen und das Selbstverständnis der Architekten im Kollektiv andererseits. more

Welche Rolle spielten Städtebau und Wohnverhältnisse für die friedliche Revolution in der DDR 1989? War der rasante und großflächige Verfall großer Altstadtgebiete bei gleichzeitiger und einseitiger Dominanz des industriellen Plattenbaus ein motivierender Faktor für Bürgerbewegungen? Das vom BMBF geförderte Projekt „StadtWende“ der Historischen Forschungsstelle, das im Januar 2019 mit einer Laufzeit von vier Jahren startete, will diese Frage gründlicher als bisher möglich untersuchen. more