Dieter Bankert, Design for the competition for Prager Strasse (Prague Street) in Dresden, 1962, in Deutsche Architektur, 3-1963.

In 1962 a competition for the design of Prager Strasse was held in Dresden: it marked a modernist turning point in the city’s architecture and urban planning. The aim was to continue reconstruction but under new auspices. The pompous socialist realism and “national traditions” of Altmarkt Square were abandoned and Prager Strasse was turned into an exemplary fragment of the modern socialist city.

Prager Strasse, which was reduced to ashes during the bombings, was once a busy thoroughfare in Dresden boasting shops and middle-class buildings. It ran from the historic city centre to the main railway station, through which visitors to Dresden always passed upon their arrival. The idea was therefore to welcome them into a new atmosphere: that of a happy, spacious and bright city, as shown in this image which is typical of the spirit of the competition.

The competition defined the contours of reconstruction (or rather construction, as it took shape on a new piece of land) that drew its inspiration from the modern movement of the inter-war period. Here we notice the pure volumes of the buildings arranged in an atypical way, so as to form a square rather than a street.

Dieter Bankert was one of several GDR architects who were particularly open to new developments and cared little for official guidelines, qualities which did little to enhance his career prospects.

Sonia de Puineuf