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.

Hejduk tower, before and after. And then after again.


A couple of ‘before and after’ shots of the tower, the latter with the reinstated original colour scheme, agreement on which was reached after much (really, much) experimentation and discussion between our campaign group (Robert, Matthias and Florian), contact architect for the original building and the building owner’s architect.

If all this (understandably) means nothing whatsoever to you, a bit of history, in order: here, here, here, here, here, here, here and finally, news of the successful outcome  here.



Yes, I know the first one looks newer, but eyebrows to be restored soon.

Categories : 1980s   John Hejduk

IBA mini-tour, Saturday 29th May


UPDATE: Have had a really positive response for this, and only a couple of places left (numbers limited as we’re trooping into people’s apartments). First come first served!

(Not very) advanced notice that this saturday, a few of our group will be meeting up to look at some of the IBA buildings on Kochstrasse, with some access to flats and possibly including John Hejduk’s ‘Kreuzberg Tower’ which is just a block away.  It’s not an ‘official’ tour, since I’m leading it – more a test run to see if it might be worth running ‘proper’ tours of parts of the IBA and other lesser-known Berlin architecture.

For those who don’t know (despite my obsessive blogging on the subject, see right hand column!) the Berlin IBA, an international building exhibition exhibition of the 1980s, produced a huge quantity and variation of buildings, mainly housing, in a swathe running from south Tiergarten to the far end of Kreuzberg. There’s way too much to cover in a day, or a month, but the area around Checkpoint Charlie is particularly interesting, with designs by OMA, Peter Eisenmann, MBM, Aldo Rossi, and on the block to the south, John Hejduk’s now fabled tower.

Meet at 11am on the corner of Kochstrasse and Wilhelmstrasse at 11am. Let me know if you fancy coming: jimhudson40 (at) googlemail.com.  Probably a couple of hours, then maybe a spot of lunch/drinks somewhere.

Our informal architecture group* has been on a few tours now, including the new building on Linienstrasse, the Dutch embassy and the Shellhaus.  I dismally failed to write about the Shellhaus visit, but my fellow archi-groupie has, over at Nicht Winken! In der Großstadt! In fact she’s posting far more than me, and I wouldn’t blame regular readers for migrating over there.  In my favour, I can claim that I was braver (well alright, taller) when leaning out over the staircase shaft. Although, as is often the case, I seem to have put my foot in it.

*the group is informal, not necessarily the architecture

Success! And more…


It’s like a sort of IBA-related Christmas, Easter and birthday come at once. Early last week, a Senate Baukollegium was held, where our ‘campaign team’ was able to put its case to Senate Building Director Frau Regula Lüscher, the Mayor of Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain and others.  Robert Slinger, Florian Köhl and Matthias Reese represented the campaign.

The result, officially announced via an interview with Frau Lüscher in today’s Morgenpost, is that the building is to be restored to its original design, including its distinctive colour scheme, which is fantastic news in itself.  But in addition, the borough of Kreuzberg is keen to see the area in front of the tower properly landscaped, and even to see Hejduk’s designs for two small pavilions, Studio for the painter, and Studio for the musician, built on the site.  Both formed part of the original design, and were intended to flank the entrance route to the tower – they were actually constructed for the 1987 IBA exhibition in the Martin Gropius Bau, but are assumed not to have survived.  Images of all this to be added here shortly, in the meantime, a glimpse of the Musician from beneath the Painter (I think) at the exhibition:

Frau Lüscher goes on to say in the interview that although Denkmalschutz (statutory heritage protection) is not the right tool for protecting IBA buildings, a formal procedure is to be established for building owners proposing alterations.

Finally, links to a couple of previous Morgenpost pieces, one on the future of the IBA buildings, the other an interview with Renata Hejduk.  If you have problems reading the full articles, you can usually just google the complete headline, which allows you to bypass the charging system. Oddly.

And finally finally, I notice someone has picked out the Kreuzberg Tower complex on one of the Google-earth-bird’s-eye-view-type things, here.  Interestingly, the building immediately to the west, with a semicircular rear facade, is another IBA building, by Raimund Abraham, who sadly died just a few weeks ago.

Categories : 1980s   IBA 87   John Hejduk
Tags :   

Stopped! Hejduk campaign gets results.


Having tried (and failed) to link to our latest press release as a Pdf located elsewhere, it seems clearer to simply include it here as a post; it gives a useful update of what’s been going on.  I must admit that I’m just a helper now – the campaign has been picked up from its humble beginnings and rocketed forward by Robert Slinger and Claire Karsenty at Kapok Architects, Ian Warner at SLAB, Florian Köhl at FAT KOEHL ARCHITEKTEN, and Matthias Reese at Reese Architekten, along with many others.

Do keep spreading the word, both about John Hejduk’s building in particular, and about the gradual chipping away at the buildings of the IBA programme in general.

Press release runs as follows:

The campaign to save John Hejduk’s Kreuzberg Tower and Wings in Berlin from defacement has galvanised the international architectural community in the last ten days, and appears to be working and effecting change.

The campaign to save the buildings was set in motion a few weeks ago by Dr. Renata Hejduk, daughter of the architect and professor at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at Arizona State University. It was taken up by a group of concerned Berlin architecture activists, who have worked flat out in support of Dr. Hejduk’s efforts to convince the owners to adopt a refurbishment strategy that his faithful to Hejduk’s original intentions.

An online petition was set up to try and save the buildings from the planned alterations after unsuccessful attempts by Dr. Hejduk to have a meaningful discussion with the building’s owners. Two Berlin architecture blogs, “SLAB-mag” and “Architecture in Berlin” have provided a running commentary of ongoing developments. Now the public pressure generated by the campaign and its supporters appears to be paying off.

The building’s managers, BerlinHaus GmbH have replaced images of the purple and white proposals with a written statement to the overwhelming reaction. In it they indicate a willingness to engage in discussions to arrive at broader consent. Their statement is quoted in full below.

In addition, as a result of the campaign, Matthias Peckskamp, Head of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg urban planning department has approached the owners via their architect, in the hope of seeking a more sympathetic approach. BerlinHaus informed him that the site work has been halted until agreement can be reached. In addition, the Berlin Senate has become involved, with Senate Building Director Regula Lüscher set to act as a mediating party between the owners, the city and representatives of the Hejduk estate in a meeting set for 19th April. Mr. Peckskamp hopes a resolution here could set a positive precedent for other threatened IBA schemes in the future.

In just two weeks, the online petition garnered almost 3,000 signatories from all over the world. The impressive list of supporters includes prominent architects such as:

Peter Eisenman

Steven Holl

Bernard Tschumi

Daniel and Nina Libeskind

Shigeru Ban

Henning Larsen

Michael Rotondi

Thom Mayne of Morphosis

Sir Peter Cook

Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, and Charles Renfro of D S+R in New York

Jean Philippe Vassal of Lacaton & Vassal in Paris

Raoul Bunschoten of Chora in London

Donald Bates of LAB in Melbourne

Gunter Zamp Kelp, Berlin

Jan Kleihues of Kleihues+Kleihues in Berlin

Michael Sorkin, New York

Lebbeus Woods

Matthias Sauerbruch and Louise Hutton of sauerbruch + hutton

Julia Bolles and Peter Wilson

as well as a host academics and historians including:

Joseph Rykwert of the University of Pennsylvania

Anthony Vidler, Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Cooper Union in New York

K. Michael Hays of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Stan Allen, Dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University

Prof. Alberto Perez-Gomez ,Professor at McGill University in Montreal

Prof. Wim van den Bergh, Professor at RWTH, Maastricht and Aachen University

Christine Hawley of UCL, London

Peter Carl of LMU, London

Ben Nicholson, Associate Professor at the Institute of Chicago

As well as signing the petition many supporters have also voiced support for the effort as well as the importance of John Hejduk’s work and legacy.

Steven Holl said:

Considering the last half of the 20th century, only three architects lifted the culture of architecture into the realm of poetry: Louis Kahn, Louis Barragan and certainly John Hejduk.”

Shigeru Ban said:

‘‘John Hejduk was one of the most influential educators and architects of our time. John’s IBA tower in Berlin embodies a message of selflessness in a world so often dominated by greed.”

Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of Harvard University Graduate School of Design, said:

John Hejduk’s Berlin Tower is a rare example of architecture from one of the 20th century’s most poetic architects. We should do all we can to preserve and celebrate it.”

Michel Sorkin said:

The good news of the renovation of John Hejduk’s wonderful Berlin Tower is betrayed by the whimsical vandalism of its “restorers.”  What next?  Perhaps the Blue Mosque would be more satisfying in pink.”

John Hejduk is best known as one of the ‘New York Five’, as Dean of the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York, and for his many published projects and writings which influenced a generation of architects. The Kreuzberg Tower is one of only a handful of built works by this influential architect. Berlin has three examples, all social housing schemes built as part of the IBA 1987 international building exhibition.

Managers Berlinhaus: (http://www.berlinhaus.de/)

Statement regarding the works:

Images of their proposals can be seen here: http://fantasticjournal.blogspot.com/2010/03/disturbance-at-hejduk-house.html.

English translation of statement from BerlinHaus (from their website):

Project development Charlottenstraße 96-97

As new owners of the building ensemble Charlottenstraße 96-97 in Berlin – Kreuzberg we are planning urgently necessary facade repairs.

After the completion of some initial works, we have received repeated requests to engage in a broader public discussion in respect to the design of the facades, and to consider the special characteristics of the building and its architecture.

We see ourselves as a responsible company, which does not only undertake refurbishment for the preservation and increase in property values, but acknowledges the interaction which takes place between such measures and their surroundings and site specific conditions.

Therefore we are glad to face up to the challenge of finding broad design consent.

First discussions are currently taking place into how a promising inclusion of different interest groups can be achieved.

We are glad to continuously keep you informed about the current state of this process.

Categories : 1980s   IBA 87   John Hejduk
Tags :     

Hejduk update


The petition closed at the end of last week, at nearly 3,000 signatures.  Thanks to everyone who’s given their time and support so far, especially by spreading the word across the blogosphere – I still haven’t had a chance to work back through all the useful contacts, or reciprocated all the links, but hopefully will do when time allows.

A week old now, but worth also mentioning a pice in last week’s TAZ newspaper here (in german).

As ever, a good summary of the moment over at SLAB.

Categories : John Hejduk

Hejduk hits the press…


A quick update to report that the Berliner Morgenpost have run the story here.  As someone has helpfully pointed out, you can read the rest of the article (the BM is one of those publications who think ring-fencing their content online is going to save them) by Googling “Stararchitekten kämpfen für den Kreuzberg-Turm” and clicking on the results.

I don’t want to prejudice any discussions currently ongoing, so can’t say much yet about what else is happening in terms of the actual status of the refurbishment works. But plenty is…

I will say though that the petition is approaching 3,000, and likely to be wound up at the end of this week, so do sign if you haven’t already.

Thanks again for the huge support which so many of you have given this campaign.

Further update, Tuesday 30th March – today’s print version of the Berliner Morgenpost carried the same text, but with a supportive and substantial quotation from Daniel Libeskind.

Stararchitekten kämpfen für den Kreuzberg-Turm

Tags :     

Hejduk latest


27 March:

As usual, a good summary over at SLAB, with things moving on apace. And the petition, which as Ian at SLAB notes has become a Who’s Who of architectural ‘names’, stood at 2553. Which is nice.

23 March:

BerlinHaus have posted an interesting statement on their site, here, in essence saying that they recognise the strength of public feeling and are willing to enter into dialogue about the building’s facades.  A little unclear, but sounds like promising news.

Thanks to everyone who’s supported us so far!

At the moment of writing, the petition over 1300 signatures, including a host of influential figures.

21 March:

The word is spreading across a plethora of blogs and online publications – thanks to everyone who’s carrying this – I hope to go back and read all the new sites I’ve discovered in the last few days, and will be linking and promoting in return!

Interestingly, developer Berlinhaus have removed their architect’s proposal images from their site and replaced them with an image of the buildings before the work started (which doesn’t, to be honest, give a very good impression as they look quite dilapidated).

Ian over at SLAB-mag has a thorough and detailed update on all of this, so I won’t attempt to reproduce it all here – his post also still has the original proposal images. Berlinhaus have recently commented that the balconies and sunshades shown in these images are in fact not pink, but blue.  Ian’s keen camera may have spotted one, although he’s not sure whether it’s just an undercoat:

(thanks Ian for the photo)

A small sample of the people carrying the story:

sleek magazine



Fantastic Journal



The Architect’s Newspaper

Nicht Winken in der Haupstadt

…and many, many more, as they say.

Categories : IBA 87   John Hejduk   Kreuzberg

Stop the disfigurement of John Hejduk’s Berlin Tower


A brief post to say that our petition against the disfigurement of John Hejduk’s Berlin Tower is now up and running at:


We’re not against the renovation and improvement of architecturally important buildings, but we do feel that the city’s architectural heritage should be treated with respect, and any alterations made only after careful consultation and knowledge of the importance of a design such as Hejduk’s.

So please do sign if you feel the same way.  There is more to Berlin’s architectural history than just a baroque palace.

There is also a press release here in english and here in german.

Thanks for your support.

Jim Hudson

Categories : John Hejduk
Tags :           

Hejduk defacement, the story continues…


Seems this story has really started to roll since I first heard from Renata Hejduk a few days ago, about the thoughtless and unsympathetic alterations currently being carried out to her father’s building on Charlottenstrasse (see previous post).

This is largely due to the huge effort being made by Ian over at SLAB and architect Robert Slinger, of Kapok architects. (Robert also once lived in the building himself, and has a passion for Hejduk’s work).

I’ve spoken to a lot of people about this, and some have admitted that the building doesn’t appeal to them as a place to live, or as great architecture.  Perhaps understandable, given the lack of maintenance it received over the last few years, the fact that any original landscaping has long been reduced to scrub, and that there remains a large unoccupied and unlandscaped patch of land which the apartments overlook.  But I’d urge you to read what Robert has to say about living there, and read a little about Hejduk’s work.  I’ve said this before, but in my view Berlin is building very little anymore of real architectural interest or originality; it therefore seems bizarre that it shows so little respect for existing buildings that do possess such qualities.

A press release is circulating to a number of german and english magazines, with an online petition due to be up and running (hopefully!) today. Will add a link as soon as this is live.

I’m posting the bulk of the press release here, as I think it gives a useful summary:

The ‘Tower’ – actually a suite comprising a thin, 14-storey tower set between two 5-storey wings – is one of only a handful of built works by this influential architect. Berlin has three examples, all social housing schemes built as part of the IBA 1987 international building exhibition.

The Kreuzberg Tower ensemble is typical of Hejduk’s late work, exhibiting an intense fascination with simple geometric forms, narrative mythologies and anthropomorphic symbolism. Hejduk’s three Berlin schemes bucked the colourful post-modern trends of the time with a subdued colour palette of grey and green, described by the architect as homage to the unique sky and the built fabric of the city

The present owners acquired the buildings recently as a result of a foreclosure, which followed many years of neglect. As part of ongoing refurbishment works, they have published images of the planned changes showing the removal of the distinctive sun shades over windows, enlarged balconies, and a new colour scheme in a white and bright pink, described by managers BerlinHaus Verwaltung GmbH as “tasteful living” and “apartments in Bauhaus style”. In parallel with the renovation, current tenants are being forced to move out as a result of drastic rent increases.

Doctor Renata Hejduk, the daughter of the John Hejduk and an architectural historian,, contacted the owner earlier this year to discuss the building alterations, but received only a dismissive response. She commented: “I tried everything I could to get them to stop and at least consult with the Estate and other architects who were interested in helping to preserve them. They were completely uninterested and felt their facade changes would be much better than the original.”

John Hejduk, best known as one of the ‘New York Five’ group that included Peter Eisenmann and Richard Meier, and as Dean of the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture in New York from 1972 until 2000.

Categories : IBA 87   John Hejduk   Kreuzberg