Context 162 - November 2019

C O N T E X T 1 6 2 : N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 9 13 New towns Wolfsburg grew rapidly, from 14,000 in 1945 to nearly 90,000 in 1970. An administrative reorganisation in the state of Lower Saxony in 1972 pushed the population beyond 100,000, thereby gainingWolfsburg the status of Großstadt (large city). Entire new quarters, such as the 1960s town extension Detmerode, were built along modern transport routes, while the origi- nal division of Wolfsburg into ‘work’ (north of the Mittellandkanal and railway line) and ‘live’ (south of the canal and railway line) remained visible. Many of Wolfsburg’s buildings, ensem- bles and estates are listed, including the Cultural Centre (opened 1962), a Gesamtkunstwerk by Alvar Aalto, who designed the building as well as its light fittings and furniture. The thea- tre by Hans Scharoun, architect of the Berlin Philharmonic, was opened in 1973. Steimker Berg, the first estate built in 1938 beside labour camps, and now at the infamous core of the city, is listed, as are its green spaces. The historic VW plant, with its thermal power station, is consid- ered to be the largest industrial monument in Lower Saxony.Wolfsburg has become by far the wealthiest city in Germany by GDP. The same can not be said about Eisenhüttenstadt in the State of Brandenburg, formerly in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Here mass redundancies due to the privatisation of the local steel factory following reunification and the resulting emigration to western Germany have led to a population decrease from 53,000 in 1988 to 25,000 in 2017. Eisenhüttenstadt (literally ‘Ironworks Town’) had been founded in 1950 as the GDR’s social- ist model city. It was named Stalinstadt until de-Stalinisation led to its re-naming in 1961. A proposed modernist master plan by Bauhaus architect Franz Ehrlich had been rejected in favour of the Stalinist design (socialist classicism) Alvar-Aalto- Kulturhaus, Wolfsburg (1958–1962) (Photo: Vanellus Foto, Wikimedia) A 1958 mosaic mural by Walter Womacka at the Rathaus (Town Hall), Eisenhüttenstadt (Photo: Peter Kersten, Wikimedia)