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Satellite settlements, vertical structures, and social critique: 1968 in West Berlin

Bowie, Laura 2019. Satellite settlements, vertical structures, and social critique: 1968 in West Berlin. Urban Studies

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This paper will explore the urban dynamism of 1960’s West-Berlin; specifically, the tensions between urban planning decisions, protesting students, and the reality of life for the inhabitants of the walled city. At the city’s Technische-Universität, architecture students formed the protest group Aktion 507 and curated an exhibition, “Diagnosis of Building in West-Berlin” with an accompanying catalogue. The students defined their intent as follows: ‘we were elucidators, who believed in the power of technical and scientific progress […] We were for direct democracy’ (Krau, 1983). Architecture, as the nexus of social, economic, political, and cultural concerns, became a focal point through which the concerns of the wider student movement were given physical form. The desire to make the personal political was activated in the critique of the modernist high-rises; by focusing on the experience of the resident within the Märkisches Viertel satellite settlement, Aktion 507 sought to negate a repressive and hierarchical society, dominated by the self-interests of those in positions of power. The “direct action” initiated in the satellite settlement shapes the focus, with the intention of responding to the question of how subversive practices were used to negate the negative experiences and associations of these high-rise developments. Aktion 507’s desire to return a sense of agency to the city dweller, through a critique of changes in the post-war urban spaces, will form the centre of the analysis. The question then becomes how the lessons of the sixties can instruct a reconsideration of the potential futures of the vertical.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Submission
Status: Submitted
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DD Germany
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0042-0980
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2019 12:45

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