Dusk in Tegel.

2009.01.19

Readers of a nervous disposition should look away now; there’s about to be more 1980s postmodernism.

As promised, a post with some images of housing at Tegel, with a selection of buildings forming part of the IBA 1984/1987. These are a long way from the regeneration-needy areas of Kreuzberg in southern Berlin where most of the IBA projects lie; Tegel is a much wealthier spot, and these blocks are set on the harbour opening out into the lake. In this part of the IBA the accent was perhaps more show home than urban regeneration.

The final stage of the original masterplan – buildings on the harbour island – remained on paper. My IBA source book indicates this was to be an Arts, Education and Leisure complex, although there is now new housing going up instead. The Humboldt library building immediately to the east was built though, as well as Gustav Peichl’s phosphate elimination plant across the road. I didn’t get that far mind you, as I was freezing my knackers off, frankly.

Dated po-mo? You bet. But strangely… well, you decide.

I was just struck, by the way, by how ‘American Gothic’ the pair of John Hejduk houses look (see the couple of images at the end).

By the way, it’s generally thought that the best architecture photos are those taken in bright summer sunshine.  These were taken at freezing dusk in the middle of winter. It gives them a melancholy air though, don’t you think? And as an added bonus, the landscaping of much of the site reminded me of the snow-bound topiary in Kubrick’s The Shining. Oh dear.

A much fuller set of images as usual over at Flickr.

Firstly, the mid-rise ‘courtyard’ blocks by Moore, Ruble, Yudell:

The Humboldt Library at Tegel, also by Moore, Ruble, Yudell (same architects who just finished the new American Embassy in Berlin, to much thunderous indifference). Closed that day, but interiors are interesting, from the images in the IBA guide:

Coming to a waterside area near you, soon:

Below – Moore, Ruble, Yudell (left) Poly, Steinebach, Weber (centre) plus Robert Stern (right).  Was quite cold by this point.

Poly, Steinebach, Weber (detail):

Stanley Tigerman. Really very cold by this point:

Paolo Portoghesi:

Residential terrace by Bangert, Jansen, Scholz, Schultes:

Antoine Grumbach (Freezing):

Finally, John Hejduk. See one of his other two IBA projects, widely known as the ‘Kreuzberg Tower‘, here.  Too cold after this to work the camera, so back to the U-Bahn:

All just a facade (2)

2008.12.01

After my recent rant about the planned construction of the Humboldt Forum – a new cultural building which will be disguised to look like Berlin’s lost baroque palace, I suppose I’d better do a follow up.

By the way, if you don’t live here, and know little of Berlin, I should point out that this is a major public issue and ongoing news story, not just a hobby horse of my own; much better writing on the subject can be found.  But it’s mainly in german, so ha. 

Late last week, the results were announced of the architectural competition to design the rest of the building, i.e. the bits that are not fake baroque.  It was won by an Italian architect, Francesco Stella.  He came first; slightly confusingly, there were four joint holders of third prize, with no second prize.  (I would have thought that the next best four, if all equal in the eyes of the jury, would hold either joint second or, at a stretch, joint 5th.  No matter.)

The third prize was shared by three well known german practices (Hans Kollhoff, Kleihues + Kleihues, Christoph Mäckler – all much mentioned in this blog) and Verona practice Ricardo Campagnola Architetti.  From my superficial reading, the Kleihues + Kleihues looked the better bet.

In the confusing world of architecture competitions, there were also two ‘purchased designs’, which according to Baunetz went to Berlin pratices nps Tchoban Voss and Reimar Herbst (typically, the Schloss website is less clear about this).

There’s more images of the results at the still-as-terribly-designed-as-ever website for the Berliner Schloss.

It’s the feeling of many that however good the designs submitted, the competition is fundamentally flawed, as it requires that the new architecture is entirely subservient to recreating the footprint and facades of the ‘original’ baroque palace.  I put ‘original’ in inverted commas, because there was no original palace, in the sense that the building evolved over hundreds of years to reach the form that was finally demolished by the GDR after the war.

Taking this idea as a starting point, a while back a Portugese practice aNC arquitectos proposed a thoughtful scheme whereby the existing GDR Palast der Republik building would be gradually extended and adapted to new needs; a concept to my mind far more in keeping with the spirit of Berlin, being cheaper and grittier than the bland leisure complex that will almost certainly result from the current proposals. 

Unfortunately, I’m not able to find the images they showed at the Porto conference a few weeks ago.  Their website is a Flash affair, but if you search in it for ‘public projects’ you should find the text.

BERLIM: Reconstrução Crítica

2008.11.11

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.

Architecture in Berlin (and Porto)

2008.10.25

The Iberian peninsula has been at the cutting edge of all things architectural for a while now, but despite this, it also seems to be cornering the market in debating architecture elsewhere.

“Berlin: Critical Reconstruction” is a conference being held 4th – 8th November in Porto, Portugal (if only there was this level of interest here in Berlin…).  It describes itself as

“…providing a forum for debate on the history of architecture and urbanism in the 20th century, by means of a critical reflection on the mythical urban experience of Berlin. The event’s subtitle, ‘Critical Reconstruction’ allows for two interpretations – a direct allusion to the urban planning method developed by the architect Josef Paul Kleihues in the eighties, during the Internationale Bauausstellung – IBA; and the desire to critically reconstruct Berlin, to return to its history, its dilemmas, its controversies, reassessing and debating the results of this method.”

The ‘big day’ is saturday 8th, when speakers will include Álvaro Siza Vieira himself, recent RIBA gold medal winner (not to mention the Pritzker a while back) and a man with previous form here in Berlin of course.

So highly recommended if you’re in Porto/Portugal, or are one of those glamorous people able to shoot off to conferences around the world as the mood takes you.

Links

http://berlim-reconstrucaocritica.blogspot.com

http://circodeideias.pt/berlim

The IBA 1987, Neubau

2008.07.13

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.

The Berlin IBA 1987

2008.04.12

“… the greatest creations of architecture are not so much the product of individual labour, rather the product of social endeavour, they are things simply cobbled together by working people, rather than inspired inventions of the creative genius, they are the traces a nation leaves behind, the strata desposited by the centuries, the lees of successive evaporations of human society, in short they are a kind of geological formation.”   – Victor Hugo

In the UK, the term postmodernism is still a dirty word; it refers to that clunky jokey-neoclassical architecture that was used to design speculative, planning-restriction-free office developments in the Thatcherite years of the 1980s.

But in Berlin at that time, postmodernism was the style of a different kind of development – carefully planned urban housing and infrastructure projects. In the UK, architects had withdrawn from designing mass housing after the disastrous social experimentation of the 1960s and 1970s. In Germany, they just went back to the drawing board.

In 1979, West Berlin commenced an international competition for reconstructing parts of the city, respecting (or reintroducing) the city’s original urban street plans – the foundation of Critical Reconstruction which was to become the basic principle for rebuilding post-wall Berlin.

Initially, the idea was to have a building exhibition much like the 1957 Interbau (the Hansaviertel) – a one-off presentation of the latest in design at a single site. But the programme was subsequently expanded into an ongoing 10 year research programme of new construction and refurbishment across the city, focusing on areas still completely empty since the war (for new buildings), but also on the ‘SO36′ area of Kreuzberg, which was fast decaying into an urban slum area of squats and low rent, poor quality housing.

The original idea of a ‘building show’ survived, primarily in southern Tiergarten, but for me the integrated refurbishment and rebuilding of the existing grain of Berlin’s Kreuzberg quarter is by far the more interesting part.

IBA stands for Internationale Bauaustellung, by the way. Initially known as ‘the IBA 1984′, delays led to a renaming as ‘the IBA 1987′, although to declare it as any single year belies the underlying principle that it was a long term project, which also founded a company, S.T.E.R.N. to continue its work.

The programme was divided into ‘IBA Neubau’ (new buildings), under Josef Paul Kleihues, and ‘IBA Altbau’ (mainly the repair and alteration of existing blocks), under Hardt-Waltherr Hämer. Neubau was across Tegel, Prager Platz, southern Tiergarten and southern Friedrichstadt, the Altbau in Kreuzberg only. The Altbau programme included many new buildings, such as Alvaro Siza’s Bonjour Tristesse (see below) but the tag was given to signify that such buildings were integrated into existing street blocks.

The buildings noted below are a sampler list – there should be links in the right-hand column of this site covering everything that I’ve written online on the subject.  There’s also a short piece here that I wrote for Blueprint magazine on the subject.

Also, have started a Flickr group here, should you wish to browse more images, or add your own.
The information I’m gradually compiling on this site is a bit of a work in progress.  So for the time being, please excuse the fact that links on many of the pages go back to my old Wordpress blog, and that for some pages, you lose the right-hand links list, with only a list of ‘Pages’ shown.  If you’re browsing IBA pages, best to go back to the main page then via the links again.

One last thought: it’s quite easy to judge these buildings superficially, by the style of their facades, which often have not suffered well at the hands of the architectural fashion-makers. But what strikes you most as you walk around them is the thought that’s gone into the integration of the buildings, especially the communal spaces in the ‘hofs’ behind. Photos don’t really do these justice, but here’s a sample (images link to the relevant piece).