“[I]t might be judicious, in most cases, to allow and encourage the object to become digested in a prevalent texture or matrix. […] [N]either object nor space fixation are, in themselves, any longer representative of valuable attitudes. The one may, indeed, characterize the ‘new’ city and the other the old: but, if these are situations which must be transcended rather than emulated, the situation to be hoped for should be recognized as one in which both buildings and spaces exist in an equality of sustained debate.” 
“[A]propos of IBA, a city of perimeter blocks must, of necessity, be better than a city of Zeilenbauen, but it is far from good enough. Preoccupation with block, in Berlin, is quite excessive [...].” 
The dissertation explores the relationship between projects for urban blocks and the discourses on the city during the late 1960s and through the 1980s, with a particular focus on the blocks designed and built in West Berlin for the Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) Berlin 1979-87. The main research questions center on whether and how the block changed in connection with the emerging ideas of the city during this period and whether these changes had, in turn, an effect on the city as a whole. Thus far, despite extensive research on the theories and the ideas of the city between the 1960s and 1980s, there is a lack of studies that interweave this research with insights into the block. To fill this gap, this dissertation examines, supported by theoretical and historical insights, how the block was thematized in the 1970s discourses on the city. It then highlights projects for new blocks designed between the late 1960s and the 70s in various European cities, particularly Berlin. Then, it focuses on the blocks of the IBA Berlin 1979-87, examining them through theory, history, and drawings. The drawings refer to four case studies and illustrate different formal and spatial solutions provided in the IBA blocks. The study of the examples reveals three aspects that are characteristic of all blocks considered in the dissertation: the overcoming of the small private plot, the individualization of the buildings, and the spatiality of the courtyards, which are accessible from public streets. These aspects are symptomatic of the changing understandings of the city and of the urban spaces in the 1970s and 1980s, which resulted in new compositional logics of the block.
Through the study of the selected projects, the doctoral dissertation explores different alternatives for the design of the block, dealing with issues such as urban density, the dialectic between public and private, spatial closure or openness, and the relationship between the block and the buildings and plots within it.
The design of a block always involves a necessary confrontation with all these aspects, as well as decision-making for each of them. In light of this observation, it follows that, provided they are examined with the necessary critical distance, the blocks studied in this dissertation offer a lesson in architectural and urban composition that is still valid for contemporary design.
The doctoral dissertation was written within a joint-program of “Cotutelle” between the RWTH Aachen (Supervisor: Prof. Uwe Schröder) and the University of Bologna, in Italy (Supervisor: Prof. Annalisa Trentin), in cooperation with the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences (Supervisor: Prof. Silvia Malcovati)
. Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter, Collage City (Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press., 1978), 83.
. Colin Rowe, "IBA: Rowe Reflects", The Architectural Review no. 1051 "IBA 1984. Berlin as a Model” (Sept. 1984), 92-93 here 93.
Projekt: Dissertation: Rethinking the Block
Anmerkung/en: The 1970s European Discourses on the City and the IBA Berlin 1979-87
Jahr: 2017 - 2023