TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY BERLIN
Twenty-first century Berlin is a dynamic palimpsest of its disrupted history, one that is actively unfolding as the city and the German state attempts to resurrect Berlin’s presence as a global capital. It has oscillated from being a global intellectual and artistic center, to a marginalized urban hostage of political divisions, and back to the governmental and existential center of a unified Germany.
Berlin is a city of radical architectural and urban transformations. As a result, Berlin’s urban form is a collage of contradictory urban types, such as the nineteenth century monumentality, the post-war capitalist developments of West Berlin, the communist housing blocks of East Berlin, and the late twentieth and early twenty-first century reconstructions of a unified Berlin. No territory in Berlin is neutral: each building, monument, street, and district of the city embodies part of its volatile urban history.
Today, Berlin, and all of Germany, is a center of contemporary and sustainable architecture and urbanism. A strong societal and political will to mandate high-performing, energy-efficient architecture and urban strategies has produced a body of contemporary precedents that has become the benchmark for sustainable design globally. Additionally, sustainable architectural and urban design has proven to be a powerful symbol for a newly unified Germany as a progressive, responsible, and prosperous state.
SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE BERLIN PROGRAM
Berlin is an ideal laboratory for studying the design of urban interventions, the history of nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century architecture and urbanism, and cutting edge strategies for creating sustainable environments. The Berlin Program is integral to the sequential curriculum of the School of Architecture. This is a required semester abroad for all third-year architecture students and optional for M.Arch students in the 2 and 3 year programs. Students in the Architectural Studies program have the option to go in the fall of their 4th year. Students take a full four-course load of architecture studio, lecture, seminar and German language courses. The semester includes additional lectures and office visits with some of Berlin’s thought leaders on historical and contemporary architectural and urban issues.
The Berlin Program provides a superb abroad experience that balances a well structured curriculum with individual independence to provide the most comprehensive study abroad experience. The program organizes the international flights, student housing, the full-four course curriculum, and a full array of day, overnight, and week-long field trips to the most important architectural and urban sites in Berlin and all of Germany. Students have the options of living in shared student apartments or home-stay housing with Berlin families to provide an immersive cultural experience. Students will also have extensive independent time to explore Berlin, Germany, and Europe on their own.
Academics are an important part of your time in Berlin and the following is intended to provide an overview of courses and program structure. These courses have been designed to take advantage of the opportunities available in Berlin. Additional information will be available upon arrival. Unless otherwise indicated all courses are held at the Northeastern/IES center at Crellestrasse 21, Schöneberg, Berlin.
STUDIO (ARCH 3155)
Twenty-first century Berlin is a dynamic palimpsest of its disrupted history, one that is actively unfolding as the city and the German state attempts to resurrect Berlin’s presence as a global capital. It has oscillated from being a global intellectual and artistic center, to a marginalized urban hostage of political divisions, and back to the governmental and existential center of unified Germany.
Today, Berlin—representative of all of Germany—is a center of contemporary and sustainable architecture and urbanism. A strong societal and political will to mandate high-performing, energy-efficient architecture and urban strategies has produced a body of contemporary precedents that has become the benchmark for sustainable design globally. Additionally, sustainable architectural and urban design has proven to be a powerful symbol for a newly unified Germany as a progressive, responsible, and prosperous state.
The Berlin Design Studio will focus on architecture and urbanism as speculative responses to the formal, cultural, and economic realities of the city. Recent studios have focused on residential development (especially the the increasingly popular idea of the Baugruppe, or cohousing development), and on the design of the public or private topography within the city.
In order to allow for additional time for extended travel and local excursions, studio is held once a week (typically on Monday) and lasts all day (10am–5pm). Attendance, as in Boston, is mandatory and because of the consolidated schedule, every unexcused absence will result in a grade reduction.
HISTORY (ARCH 3361)
Berlin Architecture and Urbanism: Inventing the Modern City, provides an overview of the buildings, architects, and theories that have shaped Berlin’s identity. The classes are organized with coordinated site visits that familiarize students with the historical background of the city and help them develop a critical and personal approach to looking at architecture. The buildings students visit as part of the course have been selected for their architectural significance as well as their reflection of the different periods of Berlin’s complex history.
Please come prepared with good shoes for walking and, in the winter months, appropriate clothing for being out of doors in cold weather.
SEMINAR (ARCH 3362)
Berlin Seminar: Contemporary Practices and Sustainable Futures, will focus on the more important architectural, urban, and infrastructural developments that have emerged in Germany over the past twenty-five years, but it will also focus on the political mandate for sustainable thinking and its impact on contemporary design. Accordingly, students will study sustainable design at multiple scales: the micro-scale of architectural details and integrated technical systems; the architectural scale of efficient and passive energy buildings; the urban scale of architectural intervention in the metropolitan context; the regional scale of open space and transportation networks; and the macro-scale of political action and legislation regarding sustainable design.
A rich variety of trendsetting German projects of sustainable design can be experienced firsthand in Berlin and its surroundings. These building projects offer exciting solutions for the use of renewable energy, efficient lighting, natural materials, converted infrastructure, and ecological/political coordination, and we will visit several of these during regularly scheduled field trips and longer excursions.
GERMAN LANGUAGE AND CULTURE (Elective)
This course provides an introduction to the pronunciation and basic grammatical structure of the German language through a variety of oral and written exercises, games, pieces of music, group work, role plays, presentations and excursions. Among the goals of this course is to familiarize students with the German language so that they are able to engage with confidence in simple conversations.
An overview schedule of the Berlin semester with the most important dates (holidays; excursions; Studio classes; etc.) will be provided to students in advance of their arrival in Berlin. Additional essential information will be distributed during orientation week when the students first arrive. In order to better take advantage of opportunities and because access to some buildings/sites may be restricted the schedule is subject to change. Changes will be communicated with as much advance notice as possible.
EXCURSIONS and FIELD TRIPS
Excursions and Field Trips are organized throughout the semester and provide an opportunity to extend learning outside of the traditional confines of the classroom. Travel includes destinations within and adjacent to Berlin as well as those further afield (including the Einstein Tower in Potsdam, the Bauhaus in Dessau, Emscher Landschaft Park in the Ruhr Valley, and Hafenstadt in Hamburg). With the exception of select optional excursions these are understood to be essential parts of the program, attendance is required, and travel costs and fees are included in program.
SUPPLIES and GENERAL PREPARATION
Berlin has several excellent architecture supply stores but some items may be expensive. Small items like glue, pencils, pens, and erasers can be affordably bought in Berlin. Other supplies, like triangles, metric scales, blades, and trace paper, can be costly. Students who have been on the program recommend bringing these from Boston.
During field trips and excursions significant portion of your time will be spent outdoors. Please be sure to pack warm clothes for colder months and sturdy shoes.
Studio is typically open during the week from 10–8 with additional hours added as needed. The studio is not usually open on the weekend in order to encourage students to take advantage of being in Berlin.