Destruction at Lützowplatz

2008.10.31

Here are the reasons I can think of to demolish a building which is only 20 years old:

1. It was built to be temporary

2. It was an unmitigated disaster on technical grounds (ceilings too low to stand up, they forgot the foundations/roof/stairs etc)

3. Something unspeakably horrible happened there (and even then demolition is highly debatable)

O M Ungers’ housing on Lützowplatz, completed in 1984 as part of the International Bauasutelling, is none of the above. Apparently well liked by its residents, who fought a legal campaign against demolition, it’s to be replaced by a predictable mix of office space, luxury flats and a hotel.  Unger’s trademark rectilinear facade, based as always around squares and cubes, is not to everyone’s taste. But here I think it works well, given the difficult setting of a long frontage against a busy road.

But as is often the case with Berlin’s IBA projects, a strong, defensive facade protects (sorry, protected) inner courtyards and open spaces where the larger froms breakdown into freestanding townhouse blocks and tiers of balconies.

As of today (31st October) the front block is still occupied above the ground floor, but I assume these will be moving shortly. So from the front all still appears well. But round the back…

The individual townhouses are gone, and the two ‘bookend’ blocks onto the side streets at either end of the site are coming down fast.

As far as I’m aware it’s the first demolition of an IBA Neubau project (many of the Altbau projects have been altered, but often this was the plan). Cities have to change to live, but I find this particular example unnecessary and an act of architectural vandalism.

A bit of useful info here, more of my images here.

6 comments

  1. Let’s be clear.. The complex wasn’t that good looking, BUT was very functional and well loved by its residents.. As you say, pure vandalism and in the name of financial gain.. I wouldn’t mind betting that once the site is cleared, it will now stand empty for a while…
    The speculators didn’t expect the current finiancial sitaution when they hatched their grand idea.. !
    It hurts to look at the photos..

    IsarSteve, October 31, 2008
  2. Yes, it broke my heart to see the demolition. Such a waste in every sense.

    jimnkatie, November 2, 2008
  3. Architectural vandalsm happens all the time in Berlin, just not so often in the western part. You have to look no further than “die mitte” on Alexanderplatz.
    It’s a pity, really.
    There is this urge to make Berlin look boring.

    И.Е. Станков, November 3, 2008
  4. What? Can’t believe my eyes…
    I just plan to visit it…OMG

    Wangwenjun, November 3, 2008
  5. Sadly, you’ve missed the individual back blocks (as did I) – will just have to make do with the front.

    jimnkatie, November 3, 2008
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