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type of New Town:
> scale of autonomy
Wolfsburg is located in West Germany, near the Mitteland-canal, to the north of Braunschweig. Wolfsburg was planned at the end of the thirties as a company town under the direction of Hitler, who named the town: Stadt des KdF-Wagens. Hitler ordered this town to be built with a factory for the mass production of Kraft durch Freude Volkswagens. Mass production of the Volkswagen made car ownership accessible to a larger part of the German population. The car was a symbol of modern living and civilization and the German population had to reach this level of civilization. The production method was adopted from the assembly line of the American Ford factory. The German car manufacturer Ferdinand Porsche, who also made the designs of the first Volkswagens such as the Volkswagen Beetle, led the car factory in Wolfsburg. But Wolfsburg became more than an industrial area. In collaboration with his 'right-hand man' Speer, Hitler intended to make the town a symbol of the superiority of the National Socialist state. The urban plan and the architectural design played an important role in showcasting this ideal.
Urban plan and design
The urban plan for Wolfsburg accommodated 80,000 to 90,000 inhabitants and was designed by the German architect Peter Koller (1907-1996), a fellow student of Speer. The plan was fairly typical for the ruling period of Hitler, because of its similarities with Speer's urban plan for Berlin. The town was structured by a major North-South axis, the 'Porsche-strasse', from the highway in the south via the city centre to the factory complex in the north. The oversized monumental axis with representative public buildings and neo-classical decoration on the façades was characteristic. It was planned to hold a victory parade after the war. From an aerial view, the structure of the city looked like a chandelier with four arms and two circular ring-roads: one embracing the centre and the other encircling the residential districts. The main roads were connected with roundabouts to the residential streets that led to the residential quarters. The city centre, with prominent buildings like a city hall, was planned on top of the 25 meter high Klieversberg hill. The residential quarters surrounded this centre. The building height of the centre and the main streets was reduced towards the borders of the city. Schools and hospitals were more evenly spread over the land. The residential districts were formed by a system of groups of houses, neighbourhoods and quarters with facilities, like schools and kindergarten, according to the amount of inhabitants. This sub-division of the settlement was similar to the hierarchical political organization. A large amount of green spaces in the residential areas was planned because of Hitler's ideal of agricultural life. The asymmetrical form of the city and the diagonal position was caused by the uneven topography of the land. The districts consisted of long rows of one-family houses with saddle roofs, because the family was the keystone in the national socialist society. The architects also furnished some of the houses, to exhibit the ideal household. Some houses were to be supplied with central heating, sanitary equipments, central laundry services and a small garden for every residence. With these modern equipments Koller tried to attract the qualified workers to this town.
Shortly after the decision regarding the new urban site, the building began in 1938 under the guidance of Koller and in cooperation with several chiefs of the planning, building and civil engineering departments. The first building activities started hesitantly because of a lack of governmental finances. The construction of one-family houses went not fast enough for the flow of workers to the town, who were attracted by the large amount of employment. That is why the German National Serviceman built barracks for the Italian guest workers, near the building site of the residential quarters. Only 600 houses were built before the outbreak of the war. Construction stopped during the war, because of restriction of material supply for non-war-related projects and the wandering attentions of Hitler. The city was tortured by an overflow of refugees and unemployment.
In May 1945, the British changed the city's name of Stadt des KdF-Wagens to Wolfsburg, referring to the Wolfsburg castle situated on the banks of the Aller River. By renaming the streets from National Socialist elite to poetics, the National Socialist history was dismantled. This was the starting point of a new period. The German architects Hans Bernard Reichow (1899-1974) and Fritz Eggeling (1913-1966) made a plan for the development of the city with a future population of 35,000 inhabitants. The urban plan and architecture, designed by Scandinavian architects like Alvar Aalto, intended to represent the free West with the sober, functionalistic style. Despite the revision of the plan, the original principles of Koller's design are still visible. After the war, the city grew because of Italian immigrants and new inhabitants and because of the annexation of villages in the seventies. The city counted more than 120,000 inhabitants in 2006.