After discussing the topic with David, my lecturer, he convinced me that my idea of exploring the architectural contrast in Cold War Berlin. In this post I will explore the circumstances and events that lead up to a fractured Berlin and then delve into the architectural innovation and competition that resulted.
What happened to Berlin?
- After Germany was defeated in May 1945, the city of Berlin was divided in two. With the Eastern sector occupied by the Russian Army and the other by the Western Allies.
- Tensions between the two sectors escalated as a power struggle between the communist USSR and the capitalist West began competing for dominance with their own ideologies.
- By 1961 the Berlin Wall was built by the Russians to prevent the crossing of civilians between the sectors.
- From this point on the Cold War was in full effect. The Berlin Wall would remain as a symbol of an ideological battle until its fall in 1989.
Why Brutalist Architecture?
- Brutalist Architecture is a very contentious topic and in inextricable intertwined with a lot of political ideology and associations
- From what I’ve read thus far, architecture was employed as a means of one-upping the other side by both major powers of the cold war. They would use Berlin to showcase innovations in architectural design.
- Many people have a negative view of Brutalist structures as dominating, ugly, fortress-like hulks. They see them as oppressive.
- The dictatorial view of Brutalism is born out in popular culture. With many of its structures used in dystopian film and graphic novels.
Let Corbusier, the architect responsible for Brutalist Architecture was a staunch socialist, he saw the extravagance of the early 20th century and fought against it, building for function primarily with form being a secondary priority.
Corbusier worked in both East and West and his ideas and works mark the architextural landscape of both. I want to explore the Brutalist ideal.