These are the dreams of modern architecture as set forward by the Bauhaus school and consequent design movement. The advent of industrial fabrication, integrated design, the living machines, and a globalised design are unfolded in between the high-rise blocks of Lobeda. If we peel back the image of GDR cheap and fast housing for the masses, we still find modern values as the basis of these building blocks and public spaces.
Today these modernist values are revisited to see if they have stood the test of time. Visions of urban life today include new technologies which serve individuals on a human scale - we aspire to belong to social groups and different communities, to be involved in shaping our environment, and to interact with each other. We require density and high-rise urban development in order to protect our environment, and to invite newcomers to our neighbourhoods.
This tension between the vision of the city of the future, as imagined back during the GDR, juxtaposed to visions of the future as imagined today, make Lobeda a potent site for experimenting with urban design. Come join us!
We will be working in Lobeda, the biggest city district in the city of Jena. Jena lies on the banks of the Saale river and together with Erfurt and Weimar is the metropolitan area in the State of Thuringia. During the cold war, Jena was under Soviet rule as part of the German Democratic Republic (also referred to as GDR, DDR, and East Germany).
In the course of two decades (1966-1986) our part of Lobeda: Neulobeda-West (New Lobeda West, sister to New Lobeda East, and Old Lobeda) was developed as a quick, cheap and ideal socialist solution for high-quality housing for the workers of the booming industry in Jena. It was imagined as a cutting-edge residential neighborhood and was built in the infamous East-German Plattenbau technology.
Following the reunification of Germany in 1989, the Soviet-era housing blocks lost their charm, and many affluent residents were following the dream elsewhere. Lobeda has massively updated to 21st-century living conditions thanks to a federal program in Germany. The most ambitious of these efforts was the covering of the neighboring highway with a 70,000 Square-meter park.