Disappearing Architecture


Anna Domnick

Anna Domnick, Honeycombs, Halle-Neustadt 01


Anna Domnick, Honeycombs, Halle-Neustadt 02


Anna Domnick, Honeycombs, Halle-Neustadt 03


Anna Domnick, Honeycombs, Halle-Neustadt 04


Anna Domnick, Honeycombs, Halle-Neustadt 05


Anna Domnick, Honeycombs, Halle-Neustadt 05


When Halle-Neustadt was concepted in only a couple of years during the sixties of the last century and erected in just about the same amount of time, the main goal of the constructioners was to provide housing for the workers of two of the main energy producing plants in the former German Democratic Republic, Leuna and Buna-Schkopau. By this, Halle-Neustadt became the biggest construction project of the GDR and by the early eighties, more than 90,000 people were living in a city that was completely designed on socialist grounds.
It proclaimed highest functionality by offering an infrastructure that maintained all facilities within walking reach, while space was regulated on a moderate but equal level. Following this were overall little pos­sibilities for individual development, but greater efficiency on a collective level that was meant to keep the socialist system intact. And as much as this system relied on the functioning of society, as much did Halle-Neustadt rely on the functioning of the political system.Not even a decade later, with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Halle-Neustadt was confronted with fundamental political changes that included the closing down of about 80 percent of the industrial sector of the GDR, which also affected Leuna and Buna-Schkopau. Thousands of people became unemployed and had to move into new directions, as there was only little left to do in Halle-Neustadt.
The radical cutback in jobs among demographic changes that came along with the break down of the system had enormous consequences on the population, which by today has more than halved to 44,597 people. Those who had to or wanted to stay in Halle-Neustadt now either live in some of the readjusted flats of the socialist times or have moved to the newly constructed outskirts of the city. But unlike many of the now defunct suburbs of the former GDR, Halle-Neustadt has always had an advantage in maintaining its own infrastructure, as it has once been designed as an independent city. Until today, this condition was worth keeping up, so that when Halle-Neustadt became a part of the city of Halle again in 1990, its consequential financial security founded the basis for further investments. And while new shops keep popping out of the ground, Halle-Neustadt seems to have lost its former function.
As it is pending between presence and absence, the number of abandoned housing reached 5,380 in 2011 and continues to rise. Four out of the five Scheibenhäuser, the former landmark of the city, have been affected since the 1990s. While their hive broke, they slowly started to conserve the remains of the place that has once been considered to be the ideal communist city in what have now become gigantic honeycombs.

© Anna Domnick