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Komplexe Umweltgestaltung [complex environmental design]: architectural theory and the production of the built environment in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), 1960-1990

Lange, T; (2015) Komplexe Umweltgestaltung [complex environmental design]: architectural theory and the production of the built environment in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), 1960-1990. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores the concept of Komplexe Umweltgestaltung [complex environmental design] in architectural theory and the production of the built environment in the GDR from the 1960s through the 1980s. Articulated most vividly by architectural theorist Bruno Flierl, the concept drew on ideas that previously emerged in disciplines such as cybernetics, sociology, and cultural theory. Komplexe Umweltgestaltung sought to offer an integrative and 'complex' model for the production of the built environment across different scales – landscape, buildings, material objects (e.g. street furniture), public art, and visual communication. Drawing on a wide range of unexplored written sources, especially grey literature including theses, conference proceedings, and expert reports as well as archival records (both national and local/East Berlin) and oral history, this thesis situates Komplexe Umweltgestaltung against the background of 'socialist modernity' – socio-economic transformations, intellectual openings, and disciplinary shifts – in the 1960s. It then examines the concept's relationship to the production of mass housing in 1970s and 1980s East Berlin through close analysis of the planning, design, and construction of Berlin-Marzahn (1973–1988). Doing so, will show that Flierl's definition of Komplexe Umweltgestaltung stood in sharp contrast to the practice of Komplexer Wohnungsbau [complex housing construction]. This clash, I argue, was linked not only to his consultative involvement in the production of Berlin- Marzahn, but also rooted in Flierl's more fundamental rethinking of the social production process of the built-spatial environment, of the latter's specific cultural function as well as its role in the process of social reproduction. The first detailed account of Komplexe Umweltgestaltung in the GDR, this thesis calls for reconsideration of the concept beyond previous interpretations as ambivalent (Goeschen) or failed ideal (Guth), and instead proposes to understand it as a site of conflict, indicative of transformations and moments of crisis in architecture and modernity in late socialist East Germany.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Komplexe Umweltgestaltung [complex environmental design]: architectural theory and the production of the built environment in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), 1960-1990
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from the ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471552
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