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Should Berlin protect its Soviet-era buildings?

Published: 14 Aug 2013 12:27 GMT+02:00

Those familiar with Germany's capital will know the long stretches of socialist architecture around the famous television tower in the centre of the former East. The senate is in the process of deciding which ones, if any, should receive protected status – meaning they can not be demolished.

The Plattenbau or prefabricated buildings were allocated in true socialist-style to different industrial sectors. For example, House of Travel, House of the Newspaper, or the House of Electro-Technology, which is identifiable by the TGL sign on its roof.

For many in the city, and indeed around the world, the buildings are an important reminder of Stalinism. They loom over Berlin reminding those below about the city's past, and are a significant part of its character.

“The ideological and artistic side of architecture is particularly visible on the House of Travel,” conservationist from the state monuments office, Jörg Haspel, told the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

While some in Berlin's political scene are pushing for that history to be protected, others are concerned that keeping some of the buildings could be a hindrance to the city's development.

Keeping the particularly large TGL-topped block would “halt city development,” former Berlin senator for culture Thomas Flierl told the paper.

And if the Plattenbau were to be taken down, what would replace them? A proposed project to install 10 huge skyscrapers around Alexanderplatz was recently ditched, leaving the area wide open to ideas.

A huge swathe of other blocks were demolished to make way for the city's oft-maligned Alexa shopping centre.

Do you think the buildings are an eyesore? And would replacing them breathe new life into the area? Or are the Plattenbau an important part of Berlin's soul which should be protected?

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