Ongoing Lead Project

For a long time, it has been commonly assumed that social disparities within and between towns and cities were less pronounced in the socialist system of the GDR compared to the market economy in the West-German Republic. However, newer findings show that there were analogies and parallel developments in both systems which, starting in the 1960s, led to growing socio-spatial disparities in West Germany as well as the GDR. In terms of planning policy responses, too, there are indications of analogous developments. This lead project seeks to develop an integrated analysis framework for the historical study of socio-spatial disparities across system boundaries for the first time, and to apply it empirically. more

Ongoing Third-party Funded Projects

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

Global construction companies impact our futures. Beyond the edifices and infrastructures they construct, they also fundamentally influence governmental development aid policies, or dislocate people to build a new dam, for example. Yet the role of these major global players and their persistent presence in different world regions has barely been reflected upon. Our project investigates how major German construction companies conquered markets and spaces, thereby cementing their presence in different regions of the Global South, and it will trace the footprints left behind, long after the dust of the construction sites settled. It draws on the observation that it is impossible to fully understand the complexity of the built environment in these regions without acknowledging and analysing the role of construction companies such as HOCHTIEF AG or Bilfinger Berger as actors, stakeholders, transnational legal entities and major driving forces in the processes of globalised construction business. However, in previous bodies of research this perspective has been overlooked, except for rare exemptions. 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

Das Projekt verfolgt das Ziel, mehrere bislang nur punktuell verbundene Forschungsstränge der historischen Forschung zur NS-Zeit zu verbinden. Dazu zählen die Architektur- und Städtebaugeschichte, hier besonders Forschungen zu Repräsentationsbauten und Großplanungen, die allgemeine Institutionengeschichte des NS-Regimes und die kommunalgeschichtliche Forschung, welche in jüngerer Zeit die häufig treibende Rolle lokaler Verwaltungen und Bevölkerungsgruppen bei Unrechtstaten und Verbrechen thematisiert. more

Ongoing Qualification Projects

The thesis addresses the changes of East- and West-German planning cultures between 1959 and 1989 along analysing public communication of cases in urban planning. By focussing on historic cases of planning projects on a micro/local level in East and West Berlin, the arenas of public planning communication will be reconstructed. more