Werner Düttmann created three residential complexes in the southern part of Friedrichstadt. They reveal the paradigm shift from the so-called articulated and relaxed city to a critical reconstruction of the historical city plan. With the residential complex on Mehringplatz (1966–1975), Düttmann implemented a bold, modern, large-scale form within a densely arranged, urban residential ensemble.
Düttmann also breaks through the historical block system in Wassertorstrasse (1968–1970) by spanning the high-rise slab over two blocks and towering over the existing buildings. Hedemannstrasse (1973–1975), on the other hand, is based on a different urban planning concept, one that has carried out the paradigm shift for the first time in this area: the perimeter block development, i.e. a reconstruction of the historical, urban block structure of Berlin.
In close proximity to Block 601 in the area east of Wilhelmstrasse and west of Friedrichstrasse between Puttkamerstrasse in the north and Hedemannstrasse in the south, the 106 federal motorway should have been built. The zoning plan of 1965 still provided for this, but due to strong resistance, the planning of the so-called southern bypass was abandoned by the Senate. When planning the Mehringplatz, this motorway construction north of the facility was assumed. This can be clearly seen in its urban form, because Düttmann arranges the tallest buildings in the north like a protective wall.
Düttmann's perimeter development on Hedemannstraße appears more undogmatic and also more ambivalent: It opens the block generously on Puttkamerstraße and folds a wing in exactly where it is one of the two Wilhelminian-style existing buildings protrudes into the site. Completing the existing building with an addition to a smaller courtyard, this shows how calm Düttmann mastered his craft: Nothing on this block is schematic, every corner is formulated differently in terms of urban development and reacts to what is already there.
The modern approach of developing the architecture from an inner logic of living can be seen very clearly on the facade. In contrast to the subsequent new block buildings by postmodern architects, Düttmann does not differentiate the facade design according to courtyard and street facade. For him, it is primarily about the optimal light and the production of the same quality for each individual apartment, not about the supposed stringency of a certain type of building. The facade design follows the cardinal points. The expressive facade on Hedemannstrasse with its sculptural loggias appears serial at this point, in many other places it is rather the specific attention to spatial situations that characterize the architecture of the facility.
According to Martina Düttmann, Werner Düttmann imagined the apartment floor plans as if he were supposed to live there himself. A theme that he adopted from the Wilhelminian style living typologies are the main rooms connected by double doors. Here, however, they are even more flexible because both are each connected to the central distribution room by a further door. Another design decision attracts the attention of passers-by and at the same time enables the residents to enjoy intimacy. The sculptural parapets of the terraces, which are also plant troughs, give the ground floor apartments some distance from the street and at the same time give something back to the street: Lush greenery sprouting from concrete.
The perimeter block development based on the historical city plan became an issue again with the development of an apartment block on Vinetaplatz in Berlin-Wedding. The residential complex built from 1971 to 1978 by the architects Josef Paul Kleihues and Manfred Schonlau breaks - not for the first time in Berlin after the end of the Second World War, but as a conscious statement and harbinger of a new doctrine - with the previously common paradigms of the articulated , relaxed city and urbanity through density. These two concepts of modern urban planning were based on an interweaving of green and street spaces as well as the spatial removal of property boundaries. This can also be read as a statement because Kleihues was one of the co-signers of the manifesto of Aktion 507.
This group of young architects from the Technical University of Berlin expressed loud, media-effective criticism of post-war Berlin building activity in the context of the exhibition Diagnosis on Building in West Berlin. This can be read as a harbinger: Just a few years later, between 1979 and 1987, Kleihues, as director of the IBA-New, was instrumental in establishing the principle of critical reconstruction, i.e. the resumption of the historical city plan with its sequence of squares, streets and blocks, involved.
Only a few years later, Düttmann was commissioned by Interbau to plan the block that should actually have been built over. It is unclear whether this was the reason why he decided to take up the historical city plan and thus plan it radically differently than before. The two existing buildings that he wanted to integrate into the planning will certainly have had an impact on the decision. The fact is that with this decision he anticipated the new buildings of the International Building Exhibition (IBA-Neu, 1987), which finally established the postmodern themes of “critical reconstruction”, “urban repair” and “block edge closure”.