S | Discovering Cologne's Post-War Modernism

  Georg-Beyer-Straße in Cologne Copyright: © Unknown (mod.)  

The Discovery of Cologne's Post-War Modernism

Spatial and Social Dimensions of Post-War Architecture in Cologne

The architecture of post-war modernism is particularly characteristic of the Cologne cityscape. The viewer is confronted with mostly casual buildings that are nevertheless representative of the architectural strategies and attitudes of the post-war period (cf. Hnilica, Jager, Sonne 2010). The buildings, which are often described as restrained and monotonously mundane, deserve a closer look, as they tell the multi-layered story of the young Federal Republic.

The aim of the seminar is to explore a selection of sites from the 1950s in Cologne, exploring the relationship between actions and the spaces in which these activities take place. Through a description and analysis of these places, an understanding of post-war architecture will be awakened that understands them less in terms of purely formal, economic and compositional aspects, but rather brings together the spatial and the social (Avermaete, 2020). The main focus of the on-site analysis is not only on the built environment, but also on its current use and appropriation by people. This seminar aims to stimulate an understanding of the political, cultural and narrative dimensions of post-war architecture.

The first part of the course deals with an architectural-historical, theoretical and cultural examination of the 1950s in Cologne. For this purpose, primary literature of post-war modernism will be presented in the form of short presentations in order to understand the temporal context and the design goals of its authors. After this journey through time, two different neighbourhoods from the 1950s, the Stegerwaldsiedlung in Cologne-Mülheim and the Großer Griechenmarkt in the city centre, will be explored on one date by walking through them and recorded according to individual categories. In the process, the discoveries are noted in a diary, so that a subjective collection of findings and conversations with the people on site is created.

After this joint exploration of the city, a narrower selection of concrete places in the respective neighbourhoods is made, which are further analysed in a group. In a second, targeted walk-through, the findings of the city walk are reviewed, expanded and deepened. Each place is measured within the group of 2, observed and reproduced in the form of a drawing that overlays the findings from the previous exercises.



Cultural and Historical Basics III | Seminar
B.Sc. | 5th semester


Kick-Off: Monday, October 18, 2021, 4:30pm
Regular date: Mondays, 4:30pm to 6pm, via Zoom, field days by arrangement
Submission: to be anounced


Luca Steinert, M. Sc. RWTH