Keywords Change this

Interbau, International Bauausstellung 1957, Experimental Social Housing

Project timeline

July 6th 1957 – September 29th 1957


Mixed Use

Location Change this

10557 Berlin

Current state


Also known as Change this

City of Tomorrow

Architect Change this

Gross floor area Change this


Berlin Interbau, 1957 Change this

Berlin, Germany
by Walter Gropius, Hugh Stubbins, ... Change this

Aerial photo of the Hansaviertel District, 1962

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Description Change this

The international architecture exhibition Interbau, which opened on July 6, 1957, in Berlin's Hansa neighborhood, came to be seen as a tangible example of Germany's modernization and a side effect of the Cold War. According to the statistic, 1.4 million people visited the exhibition.

Competing with the East

A response to the GDR's first major reconstruction plan, Interbau was intended to "demonstrate the new, democratic western Germany to the outside world, which was on the side of the French, British, Italian and Americans, not only politically but also culturally," said Bernau. This attitude may explain the project's exorbitant cost. Instead of reconstructing post-war ruins and making use of the old infrastructure, property was redistributed, streets were rebuilt and the Interbau exhibit was viewed as a counterbalance to the monumental structures of 1950s East Berlin.

The City of Tomorrow

In preparation for the exhibit, an architecture contest was announced. Willy Kreuer and Gerhard Jobst took the prize with their relaxed building ideas. In place of the old barrack-like block developments, they generated space by more freely positioning their buildings. Public parks were a top priority in what was supposed to be the "city of tomorrow": A zoological garden was integrated into the Hansa neighborhood, which was encircled by high-rises, apartment blocks, single-family homes, and churches. Shops, restaurants, a movie theater, a library and the subway at Hansa Square were to make up the heart of the district. By the time the Interbau exhibit ended in 1957, only 601 of today's 1,160 apartment units were completed. The remaining 35 apartment buildings were finished by 1960.

Help from abroad

Fifty-three architects from around the world, some of them internationally renowned, were invited to help. Oscar Niemeyer from Brazil, Arne Jacobsen from Denmark, Alvar Aalto from Finland and the German Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius were among them.

Arne Jacobsen, who fled to Sweden during World War Two because of his Jewish ancestry, built four houses for the Berlin exhibit, all in the style of Mies van der Rohe's 1930s villas. Oscar Niemeyer's only project in Germany was completed in honor of the Interbau event. His eight-story apartment block set on V-shaped supports celebrates its 50th anniversary this year -- its creator's 100th birthday. The House of World Cultures, then a convention center and an apartment block by Le Corbusier in the Charlottenburg district were later integrated into the Interbau project. The entire Interbau collection received landmark status in 1995.



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