051-1114-16L  Architectural Design V-IX: Eastopia - Praha - Eastopia in Central Europe (Angélil)

SemesterSpring Semester 2016
LecturersM. Angélil
Periodicitysemester course
Language of instructionGerman
CommentPlease register (www.mystudies.ethz.ch) only after the internal enrolment for the design classes (see http://www.einschreibung.arch.ethz.ch/design.php)


AbstractIn the studio we will move between a landscape of ideas and the actual built landscape in East Germany, between visions and shrinking cities, between different social systems and layers of time with the goal of recovering interesting concepts from failed plans.
ObjectiveDevelop various analytical and notation techniques for understanding culturally/ideologically molded architectural landscape: theoretical discussion of the social and architectural types of socialism with visionary potential; critical evaluation of compiled instruments; designing relevant architecture through examination of East Germany.
Content"Draw from the heavens to the drawing board", this quote - the title of an essay collection by East German architect Herman Henselmann - speaks of the euphoria, the optimism of progress, and the belief in the messianic potential of architecture and city planning characteristic of the early years of the GDR (1). Particularly when it was a young socialist state, the hope reigned that a better and more equal society could be developed through urban planning and architecture. The many socialist utopias are products of this revolutionary thinking. As the state actually developed, however, an ever-greater disillusionment grew instead. The initial hope dimmed in the face of authoritarian government and economic mismanagement. Since reunification, consensus has been that the GDR's system and its social visions have failed - a condemnation that is now being questioned.

In the studio we will pursue the assumption that many of the hopeful utopian approaches and social attitudes upon which the socialist types were based could still be of interest today. In this sense, we will move between a landscape of ideas and the actual built landscape, between visions and shrinking cities, between different social systems and layers of time with the goal of recovering interesting concepts from failed plans.

The first step will be an archaeological investigation of the utopian fragments within the ruins of former visions, assembling an inventory of projects and socialist types with visionary potential. In a critical reflection from a contemporary perspective, the content of the architectural imprint of socialism is to be explored in order to find tools for dealing with today's territories of emigration and economic collapse.

In this way, could it be possible to develop a future for East Germany and elsewhere that doesn't put a false 'heaven' of growth and repopulation back on the drawing board, but rather, considerately and critically continues the past trajectory in a new light? Could we develop both visionary and pragmatic architectural interventions that enliven the landscape without actually imagining that it flourishes? (2)

(1) Hermann Henselmann: Vom Himmel an das Reißbrett ziehen. Ausgewählte Aufsätze 1936 bis 1981. Baukünstler im Sozialismus. Berlin 1982.
(2) "Und ich bin mehr denn je davon überzeugt, dass wir in den nächsten drei bis vier Jahren in den neuen Bundesländern blühende Landschaften gestalten werden." Helmut Kohl in a television interview, 1991.
Lecture notesA semester reader with all important text sources and additional material will be provided.
Prerequisites / NoticeIntegrated Discipline Planning (P) included LV No. 063-1402-15

- Course numbers for inscription:
LV No. 051-1113-15 U (Design)
LV No. 063-1402-15 (Integrated Discipline Planning)

- Work format: individual and group work

- Review dates: 10/11 February 2015, 21/22 April 2015, 26/27 May 2015

- Assistants for the design course:
Marcin Ganczarski, 044 633 76 15, ganczarski@arch.ethz.ch
Ciro Miguel
Celestin Rohner

- Course introduction/Special event: 17 February 2015, 10.30 am, ONA Studio;