Urlaubs(t)räume des Sozialismus, new from Wasmuth & Zohlen, explores the unique architectural history of East Germany’s vacation centers. The book starts by framing the concept of “vacation” in the DDR as being something fundamentally different from what it was in the West: in the latter, vacations were seen as an escape, a chance to “get away” from everyday routines and problems; in the former, they were an integral part of life, built into the yearly rhythm alongside work, school, and sick leave. The idea that regular vacation time was a right of every family was declared with the founding of the DDR in 1949, and throughout its four-decade history, the government created a vast infrastructure designed to bring industrial efficiency and simplicity to the process of planning one’s holidays.
BY THE TIME Tegel Airport officially opened in 1974, Berlin had already seen more than its share of aviation history. Half a century earlier, Otto Lilienthal launched his innovative gliders from a hilltop in Lichterfelde, and throughout the Weimar years and into WWII and the Cold War airfields sprung up all over the city.
THE GENESIS OF Berlin as we know it today happened just over a century ago, when, on October 1, 1920, the modern city of Greater Berlin (“Groß-Berlin”) was formed from eight adjacent cities and dozens of outlying districts. The formation of this new super-city doubled Berlin’s population from 1.9 million to what was, at the time, a staggering 3.9 million people, making it the world’s fifth-largest city after Tokyo.
BLUE CROW MEDIA IS a London-based publisher of maps, specializing in modernist and brutalist architecture worldwide. The maps are beautifully designed in a classic-modernist aesthetic, and take particular care in their choice of typefaces. The latter point is especially evident in the numerous bilingual maps, many of which use non-Latin scripts including Cyrillic, Georgian, and Hangul. In these maps, both languages get equal space in the layout, sending a clear message that they are intended for locals as well as tourists.
FOR ACCLAIMED FASHION photographer Kristian Schuller, his recent return to Berlin is a homecoming in the truest sense. Born in Halchiu, Romania, Schuller emigrated to Berlin with his parents as a child, where his university years at UdK saw him studying fashion design with Vivienne Westwood and photography with F.C. Gundlach. From there an international trajectory of increasing recognition took him from London to Paris to New York, where he became one of the fashion world’s most sought-after photographers, shooting international celebrities for some of the world’s biggest style magazines.
IMMEDIATELY UPON ITS completion in 1970, Berlin’s Haus der Statistik (which stood north of Alexanderplatz in the shadow of the just-built Fernsehturm) took its place as one of the central organs of the GDR state apparatus. With the collection of data and statistics for all of East Germany as its goal, the eleven-story complex housed numerous bureaucratic units, including several floors of Stasi offices. Its street-level businesses were the ultimate in urbane GDR style, hosting two lounges (Jagdklause and the fabulously named Mocca-Eck), a hunting/fishing shop, and Natascha, a boutique offering the latest Soviet imports.
DURING ITS FOUR-plus decades of existence, the GDR was a unique geopolitical paradox. Its place at the heart of the Cold War conflict belied the simple, day-to-day lives of the vast majority of its citizens. This paradox manifests itself visibly in the architecture of the former GDR, where often-cosmic abstract and geometric tendencies exist alongside the drab and mundane.
THE U7 IN its current form was largely a product of Cold War-era West Berlin, and is arguably the most “West Berlin” of all U-Bahn lines. Despite being Berlin’s longest U-Bahn line (as well as one of the longest underground urban rail lines in all of Europe at 31.8 kilometers), every single one of its stations, from Rudow in the southeast to Rathaus Spandau in the northwest, falls within the borders of the former West Berlin.