This article describes a current dilemma of urban planning in cities of the former German Democratic Republic
(GDR). The process of demographic shrinking, and the increasing growth of the more privileged to suburbia since the
early 1990s had dramatic consequences, especially on cities with large-scale settlements (Großsiedlungen) that once
had been built especially for sites based on heavy industries. This paper argues that far from the banal, grey and
depressing stigma attached to them at present, some of these housing projects, particularly the one for Leipzig-Grünau
represented one of the most enthusiastic experiments to realise societal utopias. The study looks particularly at the role
of residents' participation in the success and development of their estate. However, at the moment when buildings are
being demolished public participation in determining the fate of their urban environment, seems futile and redundant.
These often random and short-sighted demolitions undermine the housing estates' cohesiveness, which in turn helps to
dilute the residents' sense of pride and privilege. It seems almost as though population 'shrinking' was part of a plan to
re-appropriate the city by erasing the 'unfamiliar' fabric of a competing ideology. The paper investigates how this
process is played out, what form it takes and how the configuration and coherence of the urban fabric is affected by a
complicated sequence of chain reactions which degrade the attractiveness of the area to such a degree that demolition
appears as the only possible solution. An intentional cultural-political policy of de-familiarisation takes place and
demolition is made to appear all but unavoidable.
Keywords : East German Architecture And Urbanism, Modernist Legacy Housing Estates, Migration Politics, Shrinking
Cities, Public Participation.
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