IBA Tour, 11th December 2011 (and Megastructures on the 12th)


SOLD OUT, sorry!

Will run another one early in 2012 – email me if interested and will put you on the mailing list.

On Sunday, 11th December I’ll be running another tour of some of Berlin’s IBA buildings from the 1980s, beginning with a sample of ‘Neubau’ structures, then heading to the other end of Kreuzberg (SO36) to see some ‘Altbau’ with (fingers crossed) access into some of the blocks near the canal, to give a real feel for how radical some of these designs really were.

We’ll meet at 11am in front of John Hedjuk’s tower, on Besselstrasse.  Cost 8€, let me know in advance, jimhudson40(at)googlemail.com

It should last around three hours and will be mainly outside – wrap up warm and wear sensible shoes!  The first part will be around the area where we begin, then we’ll take a bus east to the other end of Kreuzberg to look at some of the ‘Altbau’ buildings, including access to see inside one of the semi-communal housing blocks and up to the roof.

It’s therefore best if you can buy travel tickets beforehand, at least for a single journey within zone A.  Quite a big response to the tour so I want to avoid a long queue onto the bus!

Not planning to stop in cafes or bars en route, but we will end at a bar which does food, and plenty of other eating options around as we finish up in the ‘buzziest’ part of Kreuzberg.

Looking forward to meeting you all, fingers crossed for good weather!

Also, Büro Schwimmer is running another of his tours the following day, ‘Megastructures 2‘ at the ICC – a classic piece of 1970s megastructuriness.

Heinrich-Zille-Grundschule – Werkfabrik Architekten


For ages now I’ve really wanted to look more closely at some of the buildings I blog about, rather than just a few snaps and some jokey comments.  So here’s the first of them.

Regular readers will be unsurprised to hear that it’s a project which was a part of the 1987 International Bauaustellung (IBA).  It fell under the ‘Altbau/Careful Urban Renewal’ half of the programme, i.e. projects which worked with local communities and user groups to expand and improve existing buildings and facilities; intervention rather than freestanding architecture.

The Heinrich Zille school occupies the core parts of Block 101, the block immediately to the west of Lausitzer Platz, Kreuzberg, bounded by Skalitzer-, Manteuffel- and Waldemarstrasse.  It intrigued me, because so little can be seen from the street – just a few tantalising glimpses of odd shaped buildings locking ingeniously into older structures.  The site is complex – buildings from the pre-existing school were integrated into a new plan, to include a child daycare centre.  Multiple architects were involved at the time, and the waters are further muddied by the fact that the daycare centre has been removed and additional school buildings added over the proceeding years.

View from Lausitzer Platz:

But I’ve been really lucky here.  The original architect, Margarete Winkes of Werkfabrik, agreed to meet me and walk around the building (she’d left a comment on the blog pointing out that when I first mentioned the school – I’d listed the architects incorrectly).

I’d spent some time beforehand trying to work out which architects designed which parts of the complex site, but the first thing Frau Winkes emphasized was that trying to describe the whole thing in formal contractual terms, ‘who did what and exactly where’, was to miss the point.  IBA Altbau gave local groups, architects and others the chance to experiment.  The IBA organisation had no brief or programme for the design.  Instead, this was negotiated over the period of a year, between the school, four architects’ practices, and other stakeholders, all working collaboratively to come up with a single solution.

At first, the project manager in me (I used to be one) wanted to shout “But how did this possibly work? What about cost control?”  But these projects, while not free of budget limits, were at least free of the thinking that has eventually became the dead hand of ‘Value Engineering’, and are perhaps all the better for it.  I’m not sure that such a level of invention and genuine stakeholder involvement would be at all possible now.

The project outlived the IBA, which at the end of the 1980s transformed itself into S.T.E.R.N., the private body which took over the IBA Altbau’s legacy and oversaw completion of many of the ongoing schemes, albeit with a much reduced budget.  It’s interesting that, according to Frau Winkes, there was little contact between the Neubau and Altbau IBAs; they were two almost unrelated programmes, with very differing aims.  I’ve often heard them referred to as the ‘rich and poor IBAs’, mainly by those who worked on the Altbau programme such as Alvaro Siza.

As noted above, Frau Winkes emphasized that, as with many IBA Altbau projects, the aim was not to produce Architecture with a capital ‘A’, but to create working facilities for local groups and institutions, which in Kreuzberg by the 1980s were in a state of advanced urban decay, where poverty, high levels of squatting and social disadvantage had become a political embarressment for West Berlin.

Having been told that ‘it’s not about the architecture’, we proceeded to walk around the school, and  I found Werkfabrik’s designs both impressive and – a term not often used in architectural criticism – full of charm.  I was reminded of some of the late Ralph Erskine’s work, famous for his inclusion of residents and building users in the design process to produce a quirky non-standard architecture.

A note here: this summer the school has been undergoing external renovation works, which are still ongoing at the time of writing.  The outside of the key buildings were scaffolded, and as it was an informal visit, we couldn’t access all the interior rooms.  I’ve included some shots here to give a flavour (with more here) but will be going back to do a proper session soon.

Frau Winkes pointed out that the ongoing works had made some significant changes to some of the exerior detailing – compare these two images for instance:

This led to discussion about the legality of such changes.  In Germany (as I understand it) legal copyright rests in the first instance with the architect, who should be consulted on such changes – a very different position to the UK.  I’m no expert in this area, so will say no more on the subject, as so far this blog has remained free of legal action.  But perhaps a later post on this theme – it’s an interesting and important one – with the case of Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof being the most notable.

Werkfabrik were, at the time, the youngest of the architectural practices involved in the project, and felt they were working more in the spirit of the IBA and experimentation than their more conservative colleagues.  I’m under the impression that Werkfabrik led the design process, although can’t confirm the contractual positions.  The listing in the IBA 1987 Project Report is complicated, and I’m guessing further confused by translation (the terms ‘planning’ and ‘design’ seem interchangeable) so for completeness I will quote in full:

School: preliminary report Burtin/Schulz, co-operative planning procedure (Archiplan, Burtin/Schulz, Werkfabrik); work on planning documents: Werkfabrik; educational plan for the neighbourhood school: Zimmer.

Child day-care centre: preliminary design – Werkfabrik.

In any event, Frau Winkes/Werkfabrik were clearly responsible for the design of the elements of the school which we looked at.  There were an amazing twenty detailed drafts of the design before the final scheme, done over the period of a year.  The construction process ran on into the 1990s, and “became horrible” after the demise of the IBA (I take it from this that S.T.E.R.N. were much less involved).  Despite strained relations with the school in the later phase of the work, Frau Winkes felt that Werkfabrik got their way with the design as finally built, and this rings true when you see some of the detailing and the carefully thought through interior spaces.

Some major elements of the original design, including a large hall between the firewalls of the existing buildings, along with ambitious plans to place the gym underneath one of the old retained buildings (by architect Ludwig Hoffmann, apparently) failed to make the final cut.  But these issues were evidently due more to budget restraints and technical issues than objections from other involved parties, and the end solution worked well for the teaching staff.

And the final result achieved the real aim: to promote the spaces and interstices around the buildings, to improve the overall ‘urbanity’ of such places without creating expensive ’show architecture’.

We chatted more generally about the legacy of the IBA, and about my pet theory that ironically, the IBA’s role in helping to rescue run-down Kreuzberg sowed the seeds of the gentrification now pushing its original beneficiaries out of the area.  Frau Winkes felt there was some truth in this, but also felt that the IBA saved communities and anchored residents to an area which would otherwise have been decimated by the planned motorway, and by more development such as that at nearby Kottbusser Tor.

Werkfabrik did one other building as part of the IBA; a creche at nearby Oppelner Strasse 21/22, although they tell me that this has since been heavily altered and there is little to see of their original scheme.

Huge thanks to Margarete Winkes and her partner, and also to Helen Ferguson, for her invaluable translation work!

Some more images, as I know you like them.  Like I say, will be back to do this properly soon, plus have a few more here.

Students’ storage and toilets provided for each classroom (with the structure suspended from above to minimise load on the floor)

Still here…


It’s been manic lately, so not much time to blog, sorry. So instead, a few snaps of things I’ve been up to recently, like a sort of intermission, while I’m away. Will have a bit more time next week, so prepare yourselves for more incisive, thoughtful and witty writing on architecture. Then be disappointed, and just read my blog instead, ha, ha.

The Tag des Offenen Denkmals was good fun, although I got lazy on the sunday (2nd day) and decided not to do much.  Did the Akademie der Kunst (new branch on Pariserplatz) in which the highlight was the basement (below) and the Haus des Lehrers, in which the highlight was the bit where they stopped the dumb corporate light show in the main chamber so we could actually have a good look at it:

… an amazing school on Lausitzerplatz (which I’ve mentioned before, part of the IBA) which I was able to go round with Werkfabrik, the original architects:

and from tomorrow, I’ll be manning a stand for Art in America magazine, over at the Art Forum Berlin:

Popping across the road to see Hans Poelzig’s wonderful Haus des Rundfunk (House of Radio)

and wondering why so much new architecture in Berlin is just so, well, crap. This, the Zoofenster building, which could have been so much better.

Will write lots about each of these very soon. Promise!

He's not dead, he's just resting…


I’d be the first to admit that I’m not always the most frequent of bloggers, and I could come up with all sorts of excuses for this, but I’m guessing that your time is short.  I will however just casually mention that I’ve just finished cycling from Vienna to Dresden, and therefore

a) there was not much time for blogging, and

b) wireless reception was poor in the Czech Republic, plus it’s hard to balance a keyboard on bike handlebars.

So just a quick one, to promise that I will write some proper posts shortly (I returned home to find that a publisher has sent me a whole pack of goodies, which I’ll be reviewing here as soon as I’ve read them) and to post an image sent me a while back from Pedro in Porto.  It shows part of Alvaro Siza’s Bonjour Tristesse project; Siza planned the whole block, which includes two other new structures, as well as the more familiar corner building.

I’m a big fan of Siza’s work, which generally comprises beautifully proportioned white buildings standing in perpetual southern european sunlight, like this one:

(image thanks, OunoDesign)

Whereas here in the Haupstadt, his design has been ‘Berlinified’, courtesy of the youth of Kreuzberg:

They’re not Kreuzberg youth in the picture by the way – it’s an old folks’ day centre (although the old lady pictured appears to be stealing a chair, rather than going for a chat about the old days).  It’s on Falckensteinstrasse, and there’s a very good ice cream parlour next door, if you’re out this way.  Obviously don’t forget to look at Bonjour Tristesse itself, which is out of shot to the right.

Out of town.


In London at the moment, with a bit of time to spare. So cunningly, before leaving Berlin, I put a pile of recent images I’d taken onto a disk, in order to edit and upload from here.

A shame then that I left the disk on the table in the flat in Berlin. Arse.

So instead of a blog about a trip to the IBA buildings at Tegel on a freezing winter evening, or another one about the demolition of a building near me on the Ufer which is being replaced with something ghastly, or an update on ‘Carloft’, just a bit of random wittering.

My girlfriend uploaded the Tegel pictures she took; here are a couple, to keep you distracted from this post’s lack of real content:

Tegel is the north westerly part of Berlin, a quite posh part in fact, and rather beautiful on the day we visited. Tegel (or to be more accurate, the borough of Reinickendorf) seems to be twinned with Greenwich (in southeast London, not New York) which sort of makes sense. The main promenade features London street signs and a red phone box. Curiously, both areas have large scale construction from the eighties – the former being the money-fuelled blandless of Canary Wharf, the latter being the IBA-fuelled madness of postmodernism. More on this when I get home and upload all the images.

We had no idea that the lake and harbour would be completely frozen, with skaters and assorted winter sports.

What else?

Oh yes – following my recent rants about the reconstruction of the Schloss (see ‘All Just A Facade’), I came across a good site here, summarising items in the press about it (some in english), and also ‘Kein Schloss in meinem Namen‘ (No Castle in my name) – a petition against it. You put your protest photo in, it’s cool. Not sure if I can add mine, as I’m not german, so it’s not strictly speaking ‘in my name’ at all. I pay taxes to Berlin though (any thoughts, readers?).

I note from the Schloss’s fundraising newspaper that, bizarrely, the apparently-not-dead Henry Kissinger is backing the Schloss scheme and attending fundraising dinners. Judge your enemies by the friends they keep, to misquote a phrase. In fact, it’s like hearing that Albert Speer is still knocking around, and has thrown his weight behind the construction of a new triumphal arch. (Weirdly, Albert Speer’s son, also named Albert Speer, is still around, and is an architect. You’d change your name, wouldn’t you?)

Right, off to look at London things now.

Categories : IBA   IBA 87   Postmodernism
Tags :               

BERLIM: Reconstrução Crítica


Just back from a very rewarding conference in Porto on “Berlin: Critical Reconstruction“, an event covering, well, just about everything I’m interested in here Berlin.

Speakers included Alvaro Siza Viera, together with other architects who have built, or competed to build, in Berlin, as well as film makers, planners and commentators.

A big question was whether ‘Critical Reconstruction’, i.e. the carefully planned and controlled reconstruction of post-wall Berlin established largely by J P Kleihues through the International Building Exhibition of the 1980s, is now dead.  Strong arguments were put that this was the case – that Critical Reconstruction as a policy had worked when money was pouring into Berlin in the 1990s, with investors and architects having to bend to the will of the city authorities, but is now failing, due to the city’s current desperation to attract any construction investment, however gaudy the proposals.  Understandably, this theory was rejected by those representing Berlin’s planning authority.

It was interesting to hear Siza refer to ‘rich IBA’ and ‘poor IBA’ rather than the official ‘Neubau’ and ‘Altbau’ labels, referring, I guess, to the fact that much of the Altbau work was in the much poorer district of Kreuzberg, as opposed to the Neubau townhouses across in Tiergarten. (For examples compare Siza’s own Bonjour Tristesse block with the buildings at Rauchstrasse.)

I could write for hours on the whole thing, but will resist doing so as I don’t want to deter any readers not passionate about architectural theory.  Instead, will just mention what a beautiful city Porto is, and that in the short period I was there I just had time to see Rem Koolhaas’s spectacular Case da Musica, as well as the finely crafted new metro stations (by Siza’s partner Eduardo Souto de Moura).

The venue for the conference, by the way, was Siza’s own building for the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art.

Need to upload the images I took shortly, in the meantime have stolen a couple from z.z on Flickr.  Actually, well worth a browse: http://flickr.com/photos/89707735@N00/sets/.

One of the Metro stations, Casa da Musica, Serralves Museum:

I went on a tour of Rem’s Dutch embassy here in Berlin last week, by the way, so a post on that forthcoming, with lots of comparisons with his Porto building.

The IBA 1987, Neubau


So here’s my plan. I’ve so far taken a slightly haphazard approach to logging IBA projects (see original IBA post here), but have now begun the legwork of getting as many books as I could carry from the Berlin TU library and collating a sort of rough database.

‘Why bother at all?’ you might ask. Simply because

a) when I was looking for this information on the web, it wasn’t there, and

b) I’m a nerd, and us nerds are only ever happy when we have a vast list-based project to be getting on with.

The list will have little on it to begin with, but do email me, jim_hudson33 (at) yahoo.co.uk, if you’re looking for specific material – I’m probably planning to go there with a camera if I haven’t already…

I’ve also started a Flickr group here, should anyone want to add images.

By way of overview, the International Bauaustelling (IBA) 1987 was divided into Neubau (new building) under Josef Paul Kleihues and Altbau (yes, old building) under Hardt-Waltherr Hämer. The nomenclature is not strict however; ‘Altbau’ projects, mainly in the eastern Kreuzberg district known as SO36, have many elements of newbuild, but usually integrated into existing street blocks. ‘Neubau’ generally applies to the larger scale freestanding construction. The Neubau projects were in four geographical areas; Southern Tiergarten/South Friedrichstadt (the vast majority), Prager Platz, and Tegel Harbour. I’ve listed the projects firstly by their ‘Block number’, which I assume was an allocation system of the IBA’s.

The list below is now a ‘flavour’, with a few links to the full post where relevant.  If you look down the right hand links column of this site, there should be an up-to-date list of everything I’ve done on the subject. It seemed worth putting up, as it’s become a bit of a theme of the blog (some say a nerdy obsession, but hey, we all need a hobby).

Block 1, between Kothener strasse, Bernberger Strasse and Dessauer Strasse. Perhaps its most notable building is O M Ungers contribution.

The block also includes designs by Hans C Müller and Moritz Müller, also on Dessauer Strasse.

Block 2, on Dessauer Srasse 34-40, Stresemannstrasse 105-109, Bernberger Strasse 6-9. Most notable for Zaha Hadid’s residential building on Dessauer Strasse.

Block 3, on Wilhelmstrasse. This is actually the ‘Topography of Terror‘ site, and must have become part of the IBA simply because its design competition was concurrent. The competition scheme in question was not the current one, or even its aborted-during-construction Peter Zumthor predecessor, but a ‘grid of trees’ design by Wenzel, Lang.

Block 4, bounded by Kochstrasse, Wilhelmstrasse, Zimmerstrasse and Friedrichstrasse. It includes Rem Koolhaas/OMA’s block on Friedrichstrasse and, in my opinion, the most impressive enclosed courtyard of the Neubau, with planning and several buildings by by Catalan architects MBM.  I met David Mackay (the second ‘M’ in MBM a while back, who told me some interesting things about his IBA project here, to do with Allied tanks.

Block 5 – a corner block on Kochstrasse 59 / Charlottenstrasse 83, by Hans Kammerer and Walter Kucher.

Block 6, bounded by Dessauer Strasse and Bernberger Strasse. Notable because of its unusual biological water waste disposal system.

Block 9, on Wilhelmstrasse, notable for two quite prominent residential towers.  Don’t get too excited though.  They’re not that impressive really.  (Actually, have just looked again while updating this page, and actually they seem more interesting now, will have to take a second look).

Block 10 – Kochstrasse 1-5, Wilhemstrasse 39.  Includes the prominent corner block by Aldo Rossi, with Jay Johnson, Gianni Braghieri, Christpher Stead.  I don’t seem to have posted on this, just an image on my general IBA 87 post, so here it is again:

Block 11 – Charlottenstrasse 96-98, by John Hejduk.  A tower and two separate wings, oft photographed as one of Berlin’s oddities.

Block 24, including the “Alte Feuerwache” (”Old Firestation”) – a complex of buildings including a youth centre.  By Heinz-Jürgen Drews, in association with Architekturbüro Durchbruch and Ing-Gruppe Ökotec (power-heated-energy system).

Blocks 28 & 31, known as ‘Ritterstrasse North’.  Planned by, and including buildings by, Rob Krier.  Post here, in which I may have confused things by indicating that ‘Ritterstrasse South’ is something separate from Block 33 (see below).  Am now not sure, but it doesn’t really matter – have a wander round the whole area, as it’s interesting, and also you could make a field trip of the whole area, taking in the Jewish Museum itself, as well as Hermann Hertzberger’s Block 30 on the other side of Lindenstrasse, and Erich Mendelsohn’s I G Metall (Metalworkers union building) to the south.

Block 33  – Residential Park ‘Am Berlin Museum’.  This is the southern end of a complex next to the Jewish Museum, between Lindenstrasse (15-19) and Alte Jakobstrasse (129-136).

Block 189 – Known as ‘Rauchstrasse’, bounded by Thomas-Dehler-Strasse, Drakestrasse, Stulerstrsse and Rauchstrasse. Masterplan of whole block by Rob Krier.

  • Thomas Dehler Str. 47, Aldo Rossi
  • Thomas Dehler Str. 46, Henry Nielebock & Partner
  • Thomas Dehler Str. 44, Giorgio Grassi
  • Thomas Dehler Str. 39 / Rauchstrasse 14, Rob Krier (this is the ‘master block’, facing onto Stulerstr)
  • Rauchstrasse 6, Hubert Herrmann
  • Rauchstrasse 8, Hans Hollein
  • Rauchstrasse 10, Rob Krier
  • Rauchstraase 11 – Refurbishmnent of the old Norweigen Embassy, architects: Freie Planungsgruppe Berlin GmbH / R.Weichmayr
  • Landscape architecture, Cornelia Muller, Jan Wehberg, Elmar Knippschild

Block 192 – Rauchstrasse 21 and Corneliusstrasse 11/12 A less written-about IBA project comprising three ‘eco-houses’, by teams led by Frei Otto. Essentially open concrete frames where elements could be added, including gardens, at different floor levels.  At least this was the design idea in the catalogue at the time – the realised buildings appear more substantial. Some related material here.

Blocks 197 & 198 – The Japanese & Italian Embassies During the Cold War years, the Embassy district lay largely abandoned, falling as it did in West Berlin, which was no longer the capital city.  The Italian Embassy was reworked as a cultural centre by Paolo Portoghesi.  Nowadays of course, it’s the Italian Embassy again.

Block 204 – the ‘Wissenschaftszentrum’ (Science centre) by James Stirling and Michael Wilford The project greatly extended an existing building on Reichpietschufer.

Block 220 – on the western side of Lützowplatz, by O M Ungers. Take a good look, because shamefully, it’s in the process of being demolished, for no sound reason I can see. Post blog note: as at July 2009, the front block (pictured) remains, only the rear blocks demolished.

Blocks 227 & 228 – Housing “Am Karlsbad”, Potsdamer Strasse 41-49, Bissingzeile 1-3, Am Karlsbad 1.  By Jürgen Sawade, Hilmer & Sattler, and others.  These buildings don’t do much for me, to be honest, and I’ve whinged about them in a post here.  It’s the bit at the end.

Block 234 – a huge area with one side facing onto Lützowplatz. This includes a corner building on Lützowplatz by Mario Botta, with some flats by Peter Cook & Christine Hawley (he of Archigram fame) next door.  Lots to see, including Max & Karl Dudler’s rather fabulous electricity transformer station at Lützowstrasse 18.

(thanks to IsarSteve from whom I’ve linked a Flickr image here).

Block 608 – Family Court Building by O.M. Ungers, Hallesches Ufer 66-62.

Block 622 – The Jewish Museum.  Not sure to what extent the IBA claimed this as under its jurisdiction, as not relly a part of the programme as such, and is an extension of what was originally the Berlin Museum.

Block 647 – on the north side of Lützowstrasse from Block 234.  Includes an interesting child daycare centre and apartments and individual houses arranged in a rare (for Berlin) mews plan.

Tegeler Hafen – There was also a fairly major development out at Tegel, built around the harbour, which I’ve blogged about in the snow.