The Spandauer Vorstadt, the historic area north of Museum Island between Alexanderplatz and Friedrichstraße, including Hackescher Markt, the Scheunenviertel (barn district), the Jewish Synagogue and the cultural centre Tacheles, differs dramatically from other Berlin districts currently undergoing redevelopment. It is located very close to Berlin’s center in a rapidly changing urban environment, which has placed it under high development pressures. Its genesis goes back to a time long ago when the district was still outside the city walls, making it a “Vorstadt,” or suburb of Berlin. Its age is reflected in the irregularity of the street grid and block structure. Here, the streets are much narrower and the parcels of land often much smaller than in the other areas of Berlin with mainly old buildings.
The buildings stem from different phases of Berlin’s evolution and differ not only in age but also in the number of stories and the design of their facades. Not least of all, the Spandauer Vorstadt is the site of Berlin’s first settlement of Jewish immigrants at the end of the 17th century, who left a lasting impression on this area.
The redevelopment of the area has now been declared finished and is widely regarded as an outstanding success. Not only was redevelopment carried out extremely rapidly; it also took diverse and in some cases divergent interests into account.
The exhibition shows the history of the area and the recent prehistory of its redevelopment, showing the architectural development that took place in the framework of this project. The process of preserving an inner–city residential area is reflected in the creation of playgrounds and green spaces, the renovation of schools and child–care centers, the improvement of streets and plazas, and the modernization and restoration of residential buildings. At the same time, it reveals the difficulties of achieving high–quality architectural design in the renewal of old buildings and construction of new ones.
The exhibition also shows how a traffic concept and carefully planned measures can improve the living conditions in an area over the long term. A survey among residents after completion of the project produced a number of interesting findings, including opinions about the success of project outcomes and people’s perspectives for remaining in the area.
Berlin has spent 205 million euros in the last fifteen years for the renewal of the buildings, streets, and green spaces of the Spandauer Vorstadt. The exhibition shows the results of these investments. The results are revealed most clearly not in the examples of the redevelopment itself, but in their comparison to the photos of the area from the 1980s and 1990s.