Theming Berlin

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A planning model used by the city government in Berlin

Old and new on a Berlin street

With the unification of Germany, the national government's move to Berlin, and the opening up of Eastern Europe, the city began to look for its new self. Which of the many past Berlins should the city connect with? The goal chosen by the city government was to recreate an earlier age that eliminated references to the noxious eras of the recent past. This approach was labeled "critical reconstruction."

"Critical reconstruction" [seeks to] recapture the "mythos" of the city at an earlier time. These planners discourage the aggregation of multiple lots into extended developments and require architects to follow strict rules governing the height and shape of the buildings, favoring stone and ceramic exteriors over steel and glass. Where possible, they want to restore prewar street patterns and building lines. Wolf 1998, 150

Fortunately, it has turned out that "Critical reconstruction, with its restrictive regulations and its ideology of building in stone, has never become as Procrustean an architectural bed for the new Berlin as some had feared." (Huyssen 2000, 74)

Still, what should interest us in this is the attempt to make Berlin a themed place.