For most of its existence, the German Democratic Republic was committed to mass-produced housing, pragmatic modernism, and socialist universalism. Having built a sea of prefab high-rises and slabs, during the 1970s the government turned to neohistorical architecture and the renovation of historical neighborhoods, especially in the capital, Berlin. In Neo-historical East Berlin: Architecture and Urban Design in the German Democratic Republic, 1970–1990, Florian Urban offers the first systematic exploration of this paradox.1 The explanation, he suggests, lies in a mixture of pragmatism, provisional decisions that were later amplified into lasting policy, and shifting cultural attitudes. The paradox might have been only apparent, as Urban argues that neohistoricism was not always antipodal to...

You do not currently have access to this content.