Brest – Dresden

History, destruction and reconstruction after 1945

Based on the Res Urbanae project, architecture students from the Technical University of Dresden worked on the history of construction in Brest and Dresden in the winter semesters 2021/22 and 2022/23. The aim of the seminar was to conduct comparative research on the history of (urban) construction and reconstruction after 1945 in the two cities from different thematic perspectives, in order to present similarities and differences and to highlight specificities. Within this framework, a study like this one cannot be exhaustive. Some aspects had to be left aside because of their scope (housing) or complexity (places of memory).

The following themes are presented with texts, photographs and maps:

1. The topography of the city and its management   🡪 and how to deal with it

2. Fortifications and baroque urban design

3. Reconstruction planning after 1944/45

4. The military in the city

5. The head of the city – Representative buildings 

6. The soul of the city – Churches

7. The belly of the city – Covered markets

8. Generating knowledge in the city – Universities

A brief history of the city in pictures

Both Brest and Dresden are situated along a river, the Penfeld in Brest’s case and the Elbe in Dresden’s, which splits each city into two non-equivalent parts. Both cities acquired economic, urbanistic and architectural importance during the Baroque period – as a naval base or as a city of residence, which had influences on the reconstruction of their respective urban fabric and city image, despite the almost total destruction of the city centres in 1944 and 1945.

1.1 Brest seen from Recouvrance across the Penfeld, Matthäus Merian, ca. 1630/1640

1.2 Dresden seen from Altendresden across the Elbe, Matthäus Merian, ca. 1630/40

1.3 Lower Siam Street, early 20th century, right: the Banque de France 

1.4 Dresden, Wienerplatz and Prager Strasse, 1909 

1.5 Brest destroyed, 09/1944 

1.6 Destruction in rue de Lyon, in the background the Halles Saint-Louis, 1944 

1.7 The city centre during the clearing, ca. 1946 

1.8 View from the town hall tower looking south towards the central station, ca. 10/1945 

1.9 View of the town hall tower looking south towards the central station, 1960