The Legacies of the Agricultural Production Cooperatives (LPGs) from the former German Democratic Republic. Surviving as Monuments without a Function?
ABSTRACT: How many good ideas are needed to rehabilitate unused buildings? How many good-willing investors are necessary to reactivate spaces with no visible potentials? What if the buildings have an unpleasant political past?
The buildings of the LPGs (Agricultural Production Cooperatives) in the former German Democratic Republic stand nowadays in the landscape as silent memories of an economical utopia.
The story of the LPGs started in the GDR in 1952, when the Cooperatives were established to achieve the fully collectivisation of goods and land. Initially people were invited to share their crops, tools and animals, but from the 1970ies onwards it was mandatory to share everything, so that former self-sufficient farmers were turned into employers, with regular working hours and social security. The LPGs were highly specialised production farms, controlled by agricultural engineers: there were LPGs for animals and vegetable productions, as crops and in glasshouses. The building typologies were centrally planned in Berlin, the construction was locally adapted in line with the available space, materials and building skills.
After 1989 and the end of the GDR in the regions of Brandenburg around the half of the 800 LPGs continued operating in the liberal market, as GmbH (Company with Limited Liability) or e.g. (registered cooperative society) .
Nowadays in the Oderbruch region (South-east of Brandenburg) the situation is dramatically changing, the land is owned or leased by few big companies, which produce goods on a vast scale. The former LPG buildings scattered on the whole area are obsolete for the current needs, they are mainly empty and abandoned, as big out-of-scale constructions, tangible memories of a past time with no evident perspectives.
What is the future of such buildings? Can we consider them heritage? And for whom? Shall they survive as emotional signs in the landscape? As modern experiments for functionality and new materials? Do they still have a role, considering that they are now functionally completely detached from the crops and land?
The paper focuses at presenting the former production buildings of the LPGs. The aim is to discuss their role as heritage, introducing the historical perspective and a specific analysis of the typologies and material used. The conclusion is open: does it make sense to maintain and reuse those buildings?
The paper will also include the ideas finalised by the TUBerlin Students, Habitat-Unit, for a sustainable reuse of such buildings.
CAPRESI, V. 2018. “The Legacies of the Agricultural Production Cooperatives (LPGs) from the former German Democratic Republic. Surviving as Monuments without a Function?”, in Ana Tostões, Nataša Koselj (eds.). Metamorphosis. The Continuity of Change. (Proceedings of the 15th International Docomomo Conference (15IDC), 28-31 August 2018, Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana, Slovenia). Lisbon: Docomomo International – Ljubljana: Docomomo Slovenia: 280-288.