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.

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