I wouldn’t want anyone to think that my recent post on the 87 IBA was a full-blown defence of postmodernism; it was more about the merits of careful urban planning. I only mention this because I was walking around Aldo Rossi’s Quartier Schützenstrasse in central Berlin the other day, and was having fairly negative views on po-mo as a style.
It was built in the mid 90s, following the ideas of critical reconstruction developed from the IBA, and is instantly recognisable by its multicoloured facades; it seems at first glance to be a series of different buildings on the same block, each a different (mostly primary) colour.
Despite the interesting layout of its internal courtyards, and the inclusion of one pre-existing building, its basically one big speculative development with the potential to remove internal partitions for continuous office space.
The splitting of the facades into apparently separate buildings is therefore entirely false, and deliberately underlined by the inclusion of a copy of the Renaissance Palazzo Farnese (to the left of the first image). This is architectural humour, apparently.
It’s admittedly a good antidote to some of the frankly horrible featureless corporate blocks which dominate the area, but the real problem, as ever in architecture, is in the detail.
It’s just all too plastic looking, especially the ‘renaissance’ stone detailing, which, although it is actual stone, looks like plastic panels with visible gaps between; the stonework doesn’t meet the floor.
Anyway, enough already with the moaning. This was the last dying gasp of PoMo as a style in Berlin, and on the whole gave way to a mixture of straight pastiche and corporate modernism that frankly isn’t much better.
Location: bounded by Schützenstrasse, Charlottenstrasse, Zimmerstrasse and Markgrafenstrasse.
By way of technical accuracy, the design is jointly by Rossi, with M. Kocher, M. Scheurer, Götz Bellmann and Walter Böhm. I’ve the latter two listed as ‘planning partners’ in various guidebooks. I assume this means that they were involved in the overall planning of the scheme but not the detailed design. This would make sense, as Bellmann and Böhm were the designers of ‘New Hackescher Markt’ – a series of buildings and courtyards to the northeast of Museum Insel.