Research department DEPARTMENT FOR HISTORICAL RESEARCH

The Department for Historical Research explores urbanisation paths and planning cultures of the 20th century with a particular focus on contemporary history after 1945. Besides urban and regional planning, it examines the actions of public administrations and the long-term plans underlying them, as well as interventions and appropriations of space by civil society actors.

Processes of urbanisation have produced spaces of increasing density that constitute new arenas for action and require novel governance strategies. In this context, the department studies questions of legitimacy that arise with regard to government policies and the conduct of spatial planners and urban residents. Special attention is paid to the role of architects and planners as “experts” and to the interaction between state, party and civil society actors. Biographical research is among the department’s main areas of focus. The department cooperates closely with the Scientific Collections for the History of Building and Planning in the GDR.

Ongoing lead project

After 1945, European cities were developed in ways to accommodate road traffic and related mobility patterns. This led to conflicting trends: while the planning principle of the “car-friendly city” was increasingly losing popularity from the 1970s onwards, mobility and car traffic continued to increase in many cities. The lead project investigates central, hitherto unexamined contradictions within these developments by means of several historical case studies. The projects analysis in detail the role of municipal actors, planners and the public, the reshaping of the building stock through street expansion projects, and the link between road traffic and the shaping of open urban space. more

News
24. November | 2017

After WW II, architecture was used and misused as an ideological signifier for competing systems and for new national identities. Diverse actors and networks took part in architectural exchange within the blocks and beyond the Iron Curtain. Different aid projects posed an attempt to overcome political and economic divides, but at the same time they were often considered as foreign imposition or neo-colonial practice. Tensions between commercial interests and solidarity arose. The conference investigates the multi-layered and multi-centred exchanges between the Global South and socialist as well as capitalist countries relation to architecture and constructing industry from an interdisciplinary perspective. The Call for Papers is open until December 20, 2017. more info

News
13. November | 2017
Acclaimed scholars and junior researchers at the IRS Spring Academy 2017

Between May 2nd and 5th 2017, the IRS and Technische Universität Berlin jointly hosted the first “IRS Spring Academy: Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches”. Over the course of four days, 26 German and international junior researchers with backgrounds in geography, political science, history and sociology came together to explore novel theoretical concepts and methods in spatial research. In particular, this year's Spring Academy focused on the interrelation between time and space. The junior researchers were joined by leading scholars to discuss theories and methods of spatial research that reflect on variegated aspects of temporality – whether conceptualised as models of spatial processes, or as social constructs of standardised time. The event also provided a platform for IRS scholars to present, modify and further advance their ongoing research on spatio-temporal dynamics. more info

Workshop Talk
18. January | 2018 - 19. January | 2018

Im Mittelpunkt der 15. Konferenz der Reihe stehen erneut internationale Perspektiven. Die Themenpalette umfasst Architekturexporte der DDR in das östliche wie westliche Ausland, so unter anderem nach Bulgarien und Nordkorea. Ein zweiter großer Themenblock beschäftigt sich mit Fragen der medialen Rezeption von Architektur und Städtebau der DDR. more infos