realstadt logo

The Exhibition

October 2, 2010 – November 28, 2010 at Kraftwerk Mitte, Berlin

We invited eight photographers to have a look around in Realstadt. They transformed an exhibition that neither depicts nor illustrates reality, but embodies it in unmistakable style into an illustrated narrative. What is surprising is the matter-of-fact tone in which all these pictures speak of the local conditions, plans and wishes of German cities, while at the same time appearing to be part of that autonomous, coherent urban reality that Realstadt called into being for two months at Kraftwerk Mitte.
Publication is scheduled for 13 December 2010.

Realstadt.Wünsche als Wirklichkeit / Wishes Knocking on Reality's Doors; published by: Angelika Fitz, Martin Heller; with photographs by: Tobias Gratz, Torben Höke, Philipp Horak, Paul Kranzler, Sandra Kuhne, Kay Michalak, Julia Müller-Maenher, Andrew Phelps; ISBN 978-3-033-02748-0; 27.- Euro plus packaging and postage. Please order from:

From October 1 until November 28 2010 Berlin was playing host to «REALSTADT.Wünsche als Wirklichkeit» [Realstadt.Wishes Knocking on Reality's Doors]. The focal point in this exhibition has not only been the concept of the City but also the way we deal with the City. It were the wishes of very many different actors playing an active part in shaping the City that are central to the exhibition: mundane wishes and spectacular ones, idealistic and economic ones, local and global ones. Cities, after all, are built from wishes, animated by wishes and pulsing with wishes.

A vast array of around 300 architectural and planning models and 80 exemplary projects from all over Germany testified to the wish for change and the energy needed to make it happen. In response to a nationwide call, these models were submitted by local authorities, town planning offices, universities, planning initiatives and individuals. The prize-winning projects of the competition “National Prize for Integrated Urban Development and Baukultur”, which was organised in 2009 by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development represented important points of reference. They included blueprints for extensive urban redevelopments and pinpoint interventions, realized concepts and shelved competition entries, participatory processes and bold individual statements.

Realstadt.Wünsche als Wirklichkeit was staged in the 8,000 m2 turbine hall of the power station Kraftwerk Berlin-Mitte, which was built in 1961. For REALSTADT it was making its debut as an exhibition venue. Its stark austerity lended overwhelming resonance to the exhibition’s urban impulses. These are being displayed on two levels and evoke something like the potential of normalcy.

Initiated by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) represented by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR), the exhibition is conceived and realized by Martin Heller (Heller Enterprises), Artistic Director of Linz2009 European Capital of Culture and, prior to this, Artistic Director of the Swiss National Exhibition EXPO.02, in collaboration with Angelika Fitz as curator and the architect Tristan Kobler, of Holzer Kobler Architekturen.

What the press said about the exhibition (Selection):

"Following the trend that envisions cities as complex organisms rather than as gatherings of spectacular solitary buildings, the show keeps visitors spell-bound by offering a wealth of scintillating impressions. // Even though it is conceived as an ‘exhibition without a didactic purpose’, Realstadt engages a broad public in the new experience of the city as a space whose design invites and even necessitates input from all and sundry.“
Roman Hollenstein, NZZ, 2 November 2010

"A spectacular appearance does not mean there is bound to be a catch to the thing somewhere. Is it really a foregone conclusions that exhibitions must be careful not to stray beyond architecture’s intellectual box? Exhibitions are surely entitled to be fun. Realstadt, for one, is fun – and has the added value of being extremely inspiring."
Brigitte Schulz, Bauwelt, 26 October 2010

"By fleshing out the actors in the contemporary urban planning scene Realstadt actually manages to establish contact with today’s reality."
Uwe Rada, taz, 26 October 2010

"The visitor as flaneur may sound hackneyed but this is what is actually on offer here. Anyone unwilling to weave a red thread connecting their favourite projects – a task which is made all the easier by the well written summaries – will still be awarded with the power station itself as a consolation prize: a space brimful of potential and a gigantic projection screen for their own wishful thinking."
Oliver Elser,, eMagazin, October 2010

"The models themselves are veritable works of art. Some are made from card, hi-tec ones from perspex; at one stage Gottfried Böhm created a model of an entire new precinct in Aachen from a substance that looks like Play-Doh; pupils use Uhu cans and other recycled materials. Some are serious, others tongue-in-cheek; yet others are devoted to polemics or to propaganda."
Christina Tilmann, Tagesspiegel, 2 October 2010

"... fade-outs and ironic refractions are the strong points of the exhibition. A wide range of different scales, projects and styles are to be found here next to each other and are liable to cause the most diverse reactions. In the case of the heavy-handed urban development projects of the 70s, they will provoke groans; in others, where townlets give themselves airs by installing, say, a lift in some rocky outcrop, they will elicit smiles instead."
Nikolaus Bernau, Berliner Zeitung, 1 October 2010

"It is highly to be welcomed that an exhibition organised by the Federal Ministry is focussed on realistic wishes."
Baunetzwoche, 1 October 2010