There are a number of interesting chapters in the construction history of Dresden’s Kulturpalast. Initially commissioned as a “House of Socialist Culture” in a 1959 architectural competition, the planning process was subject to numerous ideological, political and economic influences. Already then, a library and the “Die Herkuleskeule” cabaret were planned in the Kulturpalast, but for cost reasons were not realised during the course of the planning.
The draft from a collective around architect Leopold Wiel ultimately formed the basis of the execution. After long discussions all the way up to the state and party leadership at the time, the project planning devolved to a Dresdener planning combine in 1962. The chief architect was Wolfgang Hänsch. The foundation stone was laid in February 1967, and the ceremonial opening was in October 1969.
When opened, Dresden’s Kulturpalast was remarkable in a number of respects. A cultural centre in this dimension that could be used for many purposes had not yet been realized in what was then the GDR. The architecture also resisted the political doctrine of a high-rise building visible from a great distance in the socialist classicism style, integrating instead principles and elements of international modernism. The city centre of Dresden, destroyed in 1945, was enriched by a striking cultural building that was quickly a great success with artists and audience as a visible sign of reconstruction.