The Großer Heineberg is a 56-meter hill in Potsdam-Bornim (peak at 52.435010, 12.988588, map below). After WWII it was used as a dump for building materials, and while the vegetation has generally made a comeback the soil is still filled with pieces of brick, tile, and glass, with larger piles of rubble appearing frequently.
FOUNDED IN BERLIN in 2017, Rixdorf Editions is an independent press dedicated to publishing neglected German texts of the late 19th and early 20th century in new English translations. In focusing on previously untranslated works of the pre-Weimar “Wilhelmine” era, the press sheds light on a literary era that is often overlooked, despite having produced writing as startlingly creative and groundbreaking – if not more so – than the more famous movements that would follow.
THOUGH THERE ARE dozens of locations in greater Potsdam with “Berg” (literally “mountain”, though often applied to much more modest hills) in their names, the region is overwhelmingly rural, flat, and agrarian. Nonetheless, even among the sprawling corn and alfalfa fields and winding highways of Potsdam Nord, occasional clusters of hills reach high enough altitudes to be notable.
Blue Crow Media, perhaps the foremost current publisher of city maps focused on modernist architecture, returns with the Berlin U-Bahn Architecture and Design Map. Like the previous entries in their series showcasing the architectural highlights of urban transit systems – London, New York, Paris, Moscow – the Berlin entry is attractively printed on thick, sturdy paper with a die-cut slipcase.
Also like the publisher’s previous offerings (including the Brutalist Berlin Map and the Pyongyang Architectural Map), the emphasis is less on wayfinding and more on presenting a minimalist and straightforward overview of the city’s architectural highlights. Rather than throwbacks to a purely analog era, where maps had to be followed street by meticulously detailed street, Blue Crow creates physical maps that are intended for the 21st century, in that they offer a clean, simple overlay of a city while leaving much of the work of navigation and transit connections to our ever-present smartphones. This stripped-down approach allows each map to focus on the essentials without getting bogged down in cartographic details that would likely be made redundant by modern technology.
WE’VE COVERED BLUE Crow Media’s collection of Modernist Maps in the past, including an overview of the series and a look at their remarkable Pyongyang Architecture Map. Their newest addition, the Brutalist Berlin Map, joins London, Paris, Sydney, Boston and Washington in their sub-series on Brutalism, and serves as a fitting companion to 2016’s Modern Berlin Map. This newest map repeats some of the structures from its Modernist counterpart, which is to be expected given the implied Venn diagram that maps the ever-shifting overlap of Brutalism and Modernism: the Mäusebunker, Corbusierhaus, Akademie der Künste, the Czech Embassy, among others. Ultimately, while each map has more than enough unique entries to act as a standalone guide, the combination of the two offers even greater opportunities for exploration, as well as a perfect jumping-off point for further discussion.
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.