Berlin Study Abroad Seminar: The Urban Architecture of Berlin: From Schinkel to the Present

After abstract modernist planning lost contact with the physical aspects of the built environment, we returned to looking at the city at the scale of urban design, and paid more attention to the capacities of architecture as a viable resource for urban culture. The question of what constitutes the specific urban capacities of architecture has therefore become a significant issue in theory and practice. It also relates to the idea of the city as a space of the performance of architecture.

In Berlin, after the reunification of the city, this idea gained significance as vast open spaces in the middle of the city demanded re-urbanization. The importance of architecture as an urban manifestation, can be traced back to the 19th and 20th century, when rapid industrial growth and social change challenged urban life. This makes Berlin a place with a rich tradition of urban architecture, reaching from the time of Schinkel, the reform movement of 1910, to the experiences of IBA, up to the present. Architects like Alfred Messel, Peter Behrens, Mies van der Rohe, Erich Mendelsohn, Aldo Rossi, Giorgio Grassi, Hans Kollhoff, David Chipperfield, to mention a few, have contributed to this tradition.

This seminar introduces and analyzes eminent examples of this tradition in order to investigate the urban capacities of architecture and its physical potential, as well as the aesthetic qualities it produces in terms of bodily expression, surfaces, and spatial connections.

Site visits will be part of this study.