Karl-Marx-Allee was initially called Stalinallee and the street was intended to demonstrate the prestige of the former GDR capital of East Berlin. Following the devastating destruction of the war, Germany’s “first socialist street” was designed in a neoclassical Stalinist style in the 1950s. An entire section of Karl-Marx-Allee between Otto-Braun-Straße and Straußberger Platz was recently upgraded – as part of a modernisation of Berlin-Mitte which had to be in line with accepted conservation practice. Part of the project was the return of street lighting with a futurist 1960s design to the area close to Alexanderplatz.
Between 1962 and 1969, when the block-construction buildings in this section of the street were completed, cantilever street lanterns made at the socialist VEB “Leuchtebau Leipzig“ were installed. The design of the lanterns was fairly bold and differed from the typical street lighting used in East Berlin city at the time After only seven years however it was demolished – presumably for reasons of simplicity – and replaced with Leipzig Droplet Luminaires, which was the most common model used for standard street lighting in the GDR.
Almost 60 years later, 39 replicas of this former GDR lantern that are faithful to the original have now been returned to the same part of the city in Karl-Marx-Allee. At a height of 15.5 metres, the hexagonal poles serve as a reminder of an age that has almost been forgotten. With their contemporary lighting technology, it is now possible to experience the extraordinary lighting design of the 1960s once again.
project: Karl-Marx-Allee: Reconstruction of street lighting with 1960s design
client: Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection / Berlin Monument Authority
photographer: Claus Boeckh
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