Rethink open-form: 60s / 70s residential areas as settlements for micro-democracies

(c) QZ Photo, Marcin Pietrusza

A cooperation between the ZK/U - Center for Art and Urbanism (Berlin, DE) and the Open Territory Foundation (Lublin, PL)

Mar 2018 - Oct 2019

The project examines residential areas designed in the 1960s and 1970s, with a focus on the LSM settlement in the Polish city of Lublin and Karl-Marx-Allee (section II) in Berlin.

As part of the collaboration, we want to reflect on the utopian metropolis, which was reborn from the housing crisis of the post-war period.

In East Berlin this was the Karl-Marx-Allee (the former Stalinallee), which was regarded as a social and urban experiment, but primarily - as a prime example of monumental socialist architecture of the post-war years.

The Karl-Marx-Allee kept away the gentrification of the last decades, but the place functions as a living museum. Although their buildings were partly privately owned, their inhabitants are still the same as those who, in the 1960s and 1970s, at that time still young socialists, moved into the most modern houses.

In the Lublin housing estate, the areas developed together with a strong housing cooperative movement, which represented a democratic and sustainable oasis in the repressive system. Most of the residents who got a key to the new housing in the early 1960s were ready to become active members of the cooperative.

After a while, the cooperative idea behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe in the command economy as well as in Western Europe has compromised itself under the premises of the free market economy.

The project is aimed at the residents of these residential areas (Berlin and Lublin), who have differ-ent educational backgrounds and heterogeneous economic and social status. We want to explore possibilities for prototyping new horizontal and inclusive models using the example of the revival of the empty pavilions in the LSM Housing Estate and the Haus der Statistik at Alexanderplatz.

We want to understand how communal living differs from living in owner-occupied apartments. More generally, we wonder how housing development as a socio-political project affects both indi-viduals and societies, and we want to find out if these are good places for developing democratic solutions to current challenges. 

Funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education.

Project team:

Michał Fronk, Paulina Paga (Open Territory Foundation, Lublin, PL)

Matthias Einhoff, Miodrag Kuč, Olesia Vitiuk (ZK / U Berlin, DE)

Erik Schiller (Volunteer Research Assistant)

(c) QZ Photo, Marcin Pietrusza