IBA Apartment Buildings on Fraenkelufer, Kreuzberg

A whole terrace of buildings on Fraenkelufer, designed as part of the 1987 IBA (Internationale Bauaustellung) by Hinrich and Inken Baller, 1982-84.  The 1987 IBA was conceived as an ongoing design and research project, running from 1979 to approximately 1989.  When the wall came down, the ideas emerging from the IBA ran seamlessly into those of Critical Reconstruction.

[Post blog note, Sept 2017:

… or so I supposed at the time. I would say now that the ‘brand’ of Critical Reconstruction was hijacked after the fall of the Wall as a way of Hans Stimman – Berlin’s chief planner in the reconstruction period – to impose some highly conservative concepts and restrictions on Berlin’s rebuilding, that has ultimately resulted in bland-corporate neo-1920s throwback architecture, and in other areas has done nothing to assuage galluping gentrification. But that’s the difference ten years’ perspective gives you.

Anyhoo, back to the blog post…]

It’s local to me, and there’s a bit more on it (and a lot more on other buildings close by) at this other post.

IBA Buildings on Fraenkelufer, corner

Main corner, on Fraenkelufer & Admiral Brucke (as ever when I go to take a snap on a sunny day, someone’s put some scaffold up)

For the 1987 Interbau, thinking had moved on from the Hansa quarter of the ’57 Interbau (see previous blog on this) – the new blocks are carefully inserted between retained facades of 19th century apartments, with a large landscaped courtyard behind. It’s all unfashionably postmodern – hardline modernists shouldn’t scroll any further, you won’t like it.  But at the same time it’s quite genuine architecture. The wonky columns really are supporting the buildings, and it’s a patchwork, quirky development that I can imagine living in.

The real strength though, as with many IBA 1987 projects (and later buildings) is the communal space created to the rear.  It’s inventively landscaped, semi-private, and well maintained.  You also get to see that the blocks are far more extensive than just the frontages on Fraenkelufer would suggest.

I’ve read, but not sure if geographically precisey true, that this particular site had already been cleared for a proposed motorway route in the 1970s.  The motorway was never built, which was just as well, as it’s inexplicable to me why the hermetically sealed island of West Berlin, as it was at the time, needed a huge orbital motorway at all.  Maybe it was so west Germans could drive round and round next to the Wall in their new cars, to create some Ossi envy.

View on the canal bank:

Buildings on Fraenkelufer, 87 Interbau

Interior courtyard:

Fraenkelufer, interior cortyard, 87 Interbau



2 thoughts on “IBA Apartment Buildings on Fraenkelufer, Kreuzberg

  1. This stuff is really great. Actually, I’ve been trying to find out a little more about the IBA. I’ve been doing some research on the Jewish Museum Berlin, and it is true that parts of Kreuzberg (or Southern Friedrichstadt) were cleared for a highway that never came into existence. The JMB is also possible because of this. For the little history that I have read, it is possible that is highway was part of a 50s planning project that incorporated the East Side of Berlin (the West did not give up the dream of reunification so soon) that was put on indefinite hold by the building of the Berlin Wall.

    • Thanks for this. Yes, I remain confused about what the proposed autobahn was for and where it would go. I know that the plan lasted into the 1970s, and would have crossed the wall (presumably with a checkpoint, so a pretty slow autobahn…).


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