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Proclamation of the Principles of Urban Planning by the Council of Ministers of the German Democratic Republic (September 15, 1950)

In the planned Socialist economy of the GDR, urban planning was entirely in the hands of the state. The GDR had suffered less wartime destruction than the Federal Republic, and it also met with a smaller influx of postwar refugees. As a result, the housing shortage there was less severe than in the West. In its basic program on urban planning from September 1950, the GDR government painted an idealized picture of a thoroughly planned city with representational buildings and spaces in the center and a ring of residential areas of mostly multi-storied buildings connected to a practical transportation network.

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1/ The city as a settlement form did not arise haphazardly. The city is the most productive and culturally rich settlement form for the communal life of human beings, something that has been shown by the experience of centuries.

In its structure and architectural shape, the city is an expression of the political life and national consciousness of the people.

2/ The goal of urban planning is to harmoniously satisfy the human entitlement to work, housing, culture, and recreation.

The principles and methods of urban planning are based on natural givens, on the social and economic foundations of the state, on the highest achievements in science, technology, and art, on the demands of profitability, and on the use of progressive elements in the cultural legacy of our nation.

3/ Cities “as such” do not arise and do not exist. To a large extent, cities are built by industry for industry. The growth of a city, the size of its population, and its geographical expanse are determined by city-forming factors, that is to say: by industry, administrative organs, and cultural sites, to the extent that they have more than local significance.

In the capital, the importance of industry as a city-forming factor takes a backseat to the importance of administrative organs and cultural sites.

Determining and affirming the city-forming factors is exclusively a government matter.

[ . . . ]

6/ The center forms the dominant core of the city.

The center of the city is the political center of the life of its population. In the city center lie the most important political, administrative, and cultural sites. The squares in the city center are the sites of political demonstrations, marches, and holiday festivities.

The center of the city is built up with the most important and most monumental buildings; it dominates the architectural composition of the city plan, and it determines the city’s architectural silhouette.

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