Hoyerswerda, Germany, Europe
Year1955latitude: 51° 25'
longitude: 14° 15'
Planning organization
Nationality initiator(s)
Designer(s) / Architect(s)Richard Paulick
Design organization
Inhabitants40,000 (2006)
Target population38,000
Town website
Town related links
Literature- Barth, Holger, Grammatik sozialistischer Architkturen. Lesarten historischer Städtebauforschung zur DDR, Berlin 2001.
- Durth, Werner, Jörn Düwel and Niels Gutschow, Architektur und Städtebau der DDR, Frankfurt am Main 1998.
- Düwel, Jörn, Baukunst voran! Architektur und Städtebau in der SBZ/DDR, Berlin 1995.
- Paltuzki, Joachin, Architektur in der DDR, Berlin 2000.
- Schultz, Wirtschaftlichkeit des Bauens, 1956.
- Taverne, Ed and Franziska Linkerhand, Een architectuurhistorische beschouwing over een roman van Brigitte Reimann, Amsterdam 2003.
- Topfstedt, Thomas, Städtebau in der DDR 1955-1971, Leipzig 1988.
- Wagenaar, Cor and Mieke Dings, Idealen in beton. Verkenningen in Midden- en Oost-Europa, Rotterdam 2004.

type of New Town: > scale of autonomy
New Town
Company Town
> client
Private Corporation
Public Corporation
> policy
Neu-Hoyerswerda is a New Town in East-Germany, situated to the east of Cottbuss in the Saksen region. Hoyerswerda was, after Eisenhüttenstadt, the second New Town in East Germany. Just like Eisenhüttenstadt, Hoyerswerda was planned as a company town for the industrial production of the GDR to realize the 'Five Year Plan' (1956-1960). In contrast with Eisenhüttenstadt, Hoyerswerda was not planned according to the Soviet building principles of the Socialist-Realism. Instead, Hoyerswerda had to become the pilot project for mass production of houses in the GDR according to the Plattenbau building method. The location was chosen by the Council of Ministers on a strategic site nearby the coal river and the coke plant Schwarze Pumpe and to the east of the existing town Hoyerswerda with 7,000 inhabitants, nearby the Polish and Czech borders. The site close to the borders was practical for the transportation of raw materials from and to the Soviet Union and the area was well connected to larger cities like Dresden and Cottbus. On the 23th of June of 1955 the Council of Ministers decided to start with the planning of the industrial area and the enlargement of the existing town of Hoyerswerda with an area of about ten square kilometres to make it the second socialist 'Wohnstadt' for more than 38,000 inhabitants. The 'Wohnstadt' became an experiment area where the new Plattenbau construction method was fully utilized and developed.

Initially the German architect Kurt W. Leucht (1913-1998) of the GDR Building Academy and the designer of Eisenhüttenstadt, made a plan with seven residential districts around a central square with a town hall, a hotel, a building for the political parties, a house for culture, a cinema and a museum that would exhibit the national past of the citizens. The first building blocks, designed by Brigitte Schulz-Schünemann and Martin Röser, were designed according to the Sixteen Principles of Urban Planning. But from 1958 till 1965 Richard Paulick (1903-1979), chief of the state planning company, took over and adjusted the plans to the new architectural standard of a - cheaper, faster and more efficient - industrial production of houses. This new direction was largely influenced by the changes in the Soviet Union. The new Soviet leader Nikita S. Chroesjtsjov (1894-1971), who gained power after Stalin's death (1953), reformed planning and building practice. According to Chroesjtsjov, the housing shortage could only be solved through the industrialization of the building process and the mass production of houses. The Politburo ordered the production of 1000 settlements a year up to a total amount of 37,000 to 48,000 inhabitants. The only way to realize such a high density in a short amount of time was by mass production according to the Platttenbau method. Plattenbau is the German word for a building whose structure is constructed of prefabricated concrete slabs. Paulick designed several types of Plattenbau-slabs composed of prefabricated, mass produced walls, floors, window-frames, doors, and doorknobs. The dimension and location of the building complexes were not determined by form and style but by the technical possibilities and the measurements of the crane. This resulted in buildings of four floors (with a ground floor of 92 square meters) or three floors (with a ground floor of 128,8 square meters). The street view was determined by a repetition of housing type P2 and O1, with an average surface of only 55 square meters per family. In the sixties the living space and building height were increased to 70 square meters with 4500 to 5500 inhabitants per complex. An example was the eight-storey high complex in the third district with an outstanding roof, a simple profile and balconies, designed by Paulick.

The first foundation stone-laying took place in 1955, directly after the decision of the Council of Ministers. After expansion of the existing town, construction on the New Town started in 1957. Halfway through the sixties it became clear that more houses had to be built than was foreseen, because of the increase in population. Between 1960 and 1968 the number of inhabitants was increased from almost 25,000 to more than 53,000. The maximum amount was reached in 1981 with 72,000 inhabitants. By the end of the eighties seven housing complexes and a centre had been erected. Paulick left the project in the first half of the sixties for the planning of Schwedt am Oder. The lack of a supervisor led to a chaotic building situation. The coordination was taken over by the municipality of Cottbus but it did not pay attention to the needs of the inhabitants. How were the inhabitants supposed to live in this monotonous, alienated environment without basic supplies and facilities? A hospital was the only public facility building. Paulick spoke at his farewell speech about the architectural failure of Hoyerswerda: he claimed that houses were no longer built by architects but by engineers. The art of building had been reduced to the technical construction. The houses were built in a uniform style to refer to the unity of the new nation, but in fact people could not identify with it. The author Brigitte Reimann (1933-1973) described this situation in her publication Frankziska Linkerhand (1974). The discussion about the architecture of mass produced housing districts and the publication of Franziska's Linkerhand probably influenced the planning of new districts. Between 1964 and 1975 a new building area, Kuchnichter Heide, was realized for 90,000 inhabitants. In that area the housing complexes were larger, the living environment was improved with service buildings, sports- and recreational facilities, better pavements and green spaces. All this resulted in a better living environment.

Present situation
After 1990 Hoyerswerda however underwent a structural change caused by the consequences of the reunion of East and West. The collapse of the mining and energy industry resulted in the loss of 100,000 to 150,000 jobs without compensation. This led to increased unemployment and the departure of almost half the population. In 2006 the population was declined to almost 40,000 people despite the annexation of surrounding villages in the nineties. With large investments Germany tried to put an end to the negative effects of the GDR planning economy on the coke industry. For example in 1998 a new power station was planned. Hoyerswerda is currently trying to become a more attractive town with a large recreational area. The municipality was helped by nature itself. The coalmines have transformed the former extraction mines into lakes. The new lake structure now attracts thousands of tourists, according to the website of Hoyerswerda.

source: Saskia Hulskes

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