in progress

Completed doctorates | The Olympic Village Munich Planning experiment and model city of modernity

As part of the 1972 Olympic facilities in Munich, the Olympic Village represents an extraordinary building task of the post-war modernism of the Federal Republic of Germany. Due to the specific conditions associated with the Olympic Games, a special representative and symbolic role was implied for the project. At the same time, intensive socio-political realignments, which had a particularly strong impact in the field of housing, shaped the planning and conception. The resulting duality - the Olympic Village between special case and prototype - is explored in the research paper and characterizes the housing project on the one hand as a remarkable planning experiment and on the other hand as a model city of modernity. The central question, to what extent the political and socio-cultural currents of the late 1960s influenced the specific working methodology of the planning process and the spatial conception of the Olympic Village, leads in retrospect to a characterization of this temporal phase of urban planning and architectural modernism, which both marked a high point and initiated paradigmatic changes.

The planning process of the Olympic Village is traced as a representative example of the extent to which urban planners and architects at that time dealt with social issues and attempted to depict their idea of society in processual and spatial structures by means of the de-hierarchization of planning processes and the design of living space. In addition to the evaluation of original sources and historical positions, the intellectual attitudes of the protagonists and contemporary witnesses involved are incorporated and illustrate the ambitious planning culture of the time.

Inspired by the methods of the "Design Method Movement" of the 1960s, the Stuttgart architects responsible, Heinle, Wischer and Partners, sought alternative strategies for design with the aim of objectifying and systematizing the planning process and understanding it as a complex, collaborative and interdisciplinary process. The study of the planning experiment made it clear that the design process oscillated between rational measurability and creative intuition. In addition to the intended hope of generating optimal urban planning and architectural solutions through the integration of scientific methods into planning, the Olympic Village planning process exemplifies the importance of teamwork and interdisciplinary planning approaches at the time, as well as the reorientation of the architect's role.

Since the planning period (1968-72) fell within the "transformation phase" of late modernism, whose guiding principles were articulated out of different currents, the urban planning concept and spatial-architectural formulation of the Munich Olympic Village exhibit the coexistence of different and sometimes contradictory motifs and features that exemplify this phase of upheaval and orientation. The centrality of public space and the in-depth treatment of the tension between individual and community in the context of a reciprocal understanding of city and building ("architectural urbanism") served as key catalysts of the spatial concept and ultimately contributed to the quality of the residential neighborhood. The formulation of a new interpretation of the street and the residential building as the constituent elements stands here as a sign of the transition from the urban landscape of functionalist modernism to the postmodern city.

The objective of the research is based on the following fundamental positional statements:

  • The elaboration and critical reflection of the impact of socio-political changes of the late 1960s and early 1970s on architecture and urbanism, using the example of the planning process and conception of the Olympic Village.
  • The examination of the content and characteristics of the "transformation phase" of late modernism in terms of ambivalence and duality in urban and architectural planning, using the example of the Olympic Village
  • The presentation and evaluation of a planning process as a historical, practiced example from a phase of the boom of design theories for a possible theoretical and methodological transfer into the current planning discourse
  • The raising of awareness of a remarkable example of post-war modernist housing construction in the Federal Republic of Germany
  • The elaboration of a contribution to the limited existing source material on the Munich Olympic Village.

Reviewers: Prof. Dipl.-Ing. M.Arch. Maya Reiner / Prof. Dr.-Ing. Iris Reuther

Natalie Heger (2013)

Upcoming publication

A book publication of the work will be published with the kind support of the Nemetschek Foundation/Munich by Dietrich Reimer Verlag/Berlin in October 2013.