Interesting Canal Stuff (and IBA Block 647, Part 2)

2009.02.19

I had planned to do a page on the IBA block as part of my ongoing accumulation of IBA buildings (find your niche and stick to it…) but actually the section of the Landwehrkanal which Block 647 faces on to is far too interesting to keep hidden away as a dull reference page.  In fact, the stretch of the canal from Potsdamer Brücke west to Lützowplatz is a virtual history of twentieth century modernism.

(I agree, before you point it out, that these are slightly arbitrary start and finishing points; interesting erections abound here in every direction, but you have to draw a line somewhere).

As a bonus, the marvellous M29 bus route, runs along the north bank going west, and the south bank going east.  (If I mention it often enough, perhaps I’ll get free bus travel?)

Going east along the canal from Lützowplatz, the first thing you see, on the opposite bank, is Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus Archiv:

(thanks to Umschauen for these)

Further along, you come to a little footbridge by Brenner & Tonon, built as part of the IBA:

Next, on the south side, are a row of four IBA townhouse blocks, built to be (at the time) cutting edge eco homes, including a small winter garden to each flat.

No. 2, by Schiedhelm, Klipper & Partner:

No 3, by Pysall, Jensen & Stahrenberg:

Then no.4, by the now mighty practice of von Gerkan, Marg & Partner (they did Berlin’s enormous new Hauptbahnhof)

And lastly no5, which I seem to have lost a main image of, so here’s the door:

It’s not all that, is it?  The door to no. 2 is more interesting, come to think of it:

Anyway, enough of that.  Next, across on the north bank, are the beautifully measured curves of Emil Fahrkamp’s Shell-Haus (now Gasag), 1930-31:

Then there’s James Stirling and Michael Wilford’s extension of the Wissenschafts Zentrum (Science Centre) – glimpses of which below.  This was also an IBA project, by the way.


The north bank then becomes the southern end of the Kulturforum, if that makes sense, with the familiar site of the Mies Neue Nationalgalerie (Umschauen again -  thanks!).

I think I’ve previously mentioned that opposite this, on the south side of the canal, is a rather fine 1929 building by Loeser & Wolff, with a quite cool Foster-ish two storey extension on top.  To quote me: “Its facade is finely proportioned and detailed (as architecture critics would say) and I like it very much.”

As part of the Kulturforum, on the north bank, is Hans Scharoun’s Staatsbibliothek (State Library) – still currently being bothered by much scaffold as well as huge temporary ductwork, so not what you’d call photogenic, but an absolute must to see inside:

(Another piece of thievery from Flickr, that one by jmtp)

And finally, because I promised myself I’d include them at some point, some more IBA blocks, which sit across on the other side of Potsdamer Strasse.  I’m used to IBA blocks looking fairly unspectacular from the street, but often the ‘private’ interior courtyards of the blocks reveal something really special.  Hence my disappointment here; I’m certain these buildings are not without merit, but they didn’t appeal to me on the day when I took these shots last summer. I remember being in a very good mood, and at that time obsessed with the idea of collecting every single IBA building, trainspotter-style.  The idea ended there, they were just that uninspiring. I gave up halfway through, bought a Cornetto, and sat in the canalside park (also an IBA creation).

Georg Heinrichs & Partner:

Corner block by Jürgen Sawade:

and Hilmer & Sattler’s block, with a bit of tree, facing onto the park:

No interior courtyard shots, because as I said, they just didn’t register as anything special.  In fact I’m struggling to think of more to say on them, so will leave it there.

But do take the time to head down to this part of town, using the M29 bus of course.  My free travel pass awaits.


5 comments

  1. i’ve always loved the Stirling & Wilford structure. it’s pastel shades and heavy window lintels hinting of warm southern climes and ancient doings as it peeks out from behind the trees.

    William Thirteen, February 19, 2009
  2. Blimey William, that’s very poetic for a thursday morning! It certainly has something very mediterranean about it – a splash of colour in Berlin’s otherwise unremitting landscape of grey. (I’m trying it now…)

    architectureinberlin, February 19, 2009
  3. Great blog! Keep writing. Best Regards from Szczecin.

    Piotr, February 23, 2009
  4. I love your blog, it makes me appreciate living in Berlin in completely new ways. Now I only wait for you to do a very special Hamburg entry.

    Jill, February 25, 2009
  5. Fantastic entry! Learned a lot from it!
    The “Corner block by Jürgen Sawade” seems to be a precursor to many dull buildings from the late 90s, early 2000.

    И.Е. Станков, March 6, 2009

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