chapter  13
10 Pages

Aktion 507: politics become theory become praxis

In the past two decades, a string of large exhibitions (e.g. Urban Drift; MakeCity;

Wohnungsfrage/Housing Question), publications (e.g. AnArchitektur),1 innovations of

building typologies (e.g. Baugruppen) or experimental initiatives (e.g. temporary

urbanism, urban gardening and agriculture)2 have made Berlin one of the ‘hotbeds’ of

contemporary explorative work on the city. This development, arguably, ought to be

seen as a reaction to top-down, large scale, predominantly speculatively driven and

often controversial building projects that the city of Berlin had become known for after

the fall of the Berlin Wall and and which have ignited a renewed critical discourse among

a new generation of architects, planners and citizens. They are not only upholding the

city’s social planning traditions from the early 1920s, but also the dramatic changes in

the way architecture and urban planning were publicly negotiated and finally produced

from the mid 1960s until the early 1980s. While the period from the mid 1960s to the

early 1980s is typically acknowledged in contemporary discourses for the spatial change

it produced in West Berlin, the mechanisms through which this dramatic change was

made possible – how and why architects, planners and politicians began to rethink the

nature of planning – are rarely considered.