The IBA 1987, Altbau

This post won’t make much sense on its own, as it’s about a specific part of the Internationale Bauaustellung (IBA) Berlin 1987, for an explanation of which, go here. Sadly, the leading figure behind the Altbau half of the IBA, Hardt-Waltherr Hämer, died in 2012.

Much like the Neubau projects page, I’m attempting to (rather slowly) collate a list of IBA Altbau projects, migrating any projects from the other IBA main page.

Also, have started a Flickr group here, should anyone want to add images.

Block 70 – Usually known as ‘Apartment buildings on Fraenkelufer’.

Seemingly the best known of the IBA Altbau projects, judging by the number of page hits. By Hinrich and Inker Baller – see page here. Further, much commentary on the northern parts of the block (as well as the Beginenhof) are here. Finally, Wohnregal – a self-build project in the same block.

Block 88 – Bounded by Kottbusser Strasse, Reichenberger Strasse and Mariannenstrasse

A substantial amount of new construction integrated into a triangular block. The enclosed Hof space is the real strength, as ever. Page, including images, here.

Block 101 – Bounded by by Lausitzer Platz, Skalitzer Strasse, Manteuffelstrasse and Waldemarstrasse

Notable for the ingenious integration of a school into exiting and new elements, brief page here.

Apartment block, known as ‘Bonjour Tristesse’, by Alvaro Siza, Schlesische Strasse 1-8, Kreuzberg, 1982-1983. Post here, and an afterthought about the treatment of another part of Siza’s work on the block round the corner.

Housing for the Elderly, Köpenicker Strasse 190-193. By Steidle & Partner (Roland Sommer, Otto Steidle, Siegwart Geiger, Peter Boehm). Post is here, but woefully short – given my current research (at 2017) need to be getting back here. (Also, the term ‘the elderly’ is rather dated, isn’t it?).


Hochhaus an der Weberwiese, Karl-Marx-Allee

Advice for exploring Berlin’s less well known architecture: always have a look round the back.

A good case in point is Hermann Henselmann’s ‘Hochhaus an der Weberwiese’ (tower block on Weberwiese), the prototype design for the rest of Karl-Marx-Allee.  It isn’t actually on the Allee at all – it’s sort of tucked away here, round the back. (Do you remember a time before Google maps? I presume we just got lost.)

Anyway, the design, built 1951-1952, comprises a ten storey tower connected to a low rise block. It’s obviously of a piece with the bombastic Stalinist wedding cake style that dominates ‘the Allee’, with neoclassical details created with ceramic tiling and a strident symmetrical street elevation.

But oddly, the massing of the building – high rise block with low rise adjoining block offset from the axis – echoes early modernism. Interesting, as Henselmann supposedly regretted his chameleon-like changing of styles to suit his political masters, and later returned to work such as the Haus des Lehrers / Kongresshalle down the road at Alexanderplatz. Which I like very much, and come to think of it, is also a tower linked to a low rise structure.

The other thing you notice about the setting of the Hochhaus is that it feels entirely unlike Karl-Marx-Allee, even though it’s so close. It stands on the edge of a small park, across from the back of the buildings facing onto the Allee’s six lanes of traffic, and feels like another place and time entirely. Almost like London’s Bloomsbury in fact, with Henselmann’s design having an oddly 1930s art deco feel to it, despite some of the detailing.

The location is also interesting for allowing a view of the different ages of Karl-Marx-Allee in one spot. Across the park, screening off the road, is one of Ludmilla Herzenstein’s blocks. Built in 1949-1950, it is extremely plain (in a good way), and has more in common with Berlin’s pre-war modernist estates.

Next comes Henselmann’s block, as the precursor to the other blocks on the main street, by Henselmann and others.

Finally, there’s a new block reaching completion, an inoffensive piece of commercial late modernism, but not unpleasant (I seem to be damning with faint praise here, and sounding a bit too much like Niklaus Pevsner).

And, of course, no 1950s east Berlin neighbourhood would be complete without some socialist realist art.

Mediaspree gesunken. Sort of.

Just a quick follow up to my ‘Spreeufer fur alle’ rant the other day, to mention that the result was a landslide against office development and in favour of retained and improved access to the river.

Lots about in the German language press, but a brief summary in english here.

Cynics will note that the vote has no legal standing, but hey, it’s a vote from the heart against the world of international business travellers checking into bland hotels, to a neverending soundtrack of Elton John/Celine Dion/Bon Jovi bellowing out across the river from the O2.

Off to the beach now to party like it’s 1989.

The IBA 1987, Neubau

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 database. I’ve made two separate lists, Neubau and Altbau, and will gradually migrate the links and other info from my old post. The separate pages for individual projects will remain and be expanded.

‘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 get in touch if you’re looking for specific material – I’m probably planning to go there with a camera if I haven’t already…

I started a Flickr group here, should anyone want to add pages. I also came across some images I tool in 2012 of the IBA retrospective exhibition at the TU, here.

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.

Block 1, between Kothener strasse, Bernberger Strasse and Dessauer Strasse. Perhaps its most notable building is O M Ungers contribution, which I’ve written a bit about here.

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, page here.

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 (see pages here and here) and, in my opinion, the most impressive enclosed courtyard of the whole Neubau programme (see page here), and which includes some good work by Catalan architects MBM (see 2nd image below).

The OMA block was greatly altered since writing the originally post, alterations covered here.

Block 5 – a corner block on Kochstrasse 59 / Charlottenstrasse 83, by Hans Kammerer and Walter Kucher, blogged here. The block also includes Peter Eisenmann’s Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, covered here.

Block 6, bounded by Dessauer Strasse and Bernberger Strasse. Notable because of its unusual biological water waste disposal system – some images and comments here.

Block 9, on Wilhelmstrasse, notable for two quite prominent residential towers.  Don’t get too excited.  Some images here.

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 Hedjuk.  A tower and two separate wings, oft photographed as one of Berlin’s architectural oddities.  My original, rather lukewarm post here. Subsequently, my interest in the building triggered a campaign to save it from some major alterations, the campaign ran on this and other blogs, eventually reaching the press – first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and finally, success!

Block 24. A lesser known incorporation of some earlier buildings as the “Alte Feuerwache” (old fire station).

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).  See post here.

Block 189 – Known as ‘Rauchstrasse’, bounded by Thomas-Dehler-Strasse, Drakestrasse, Stulerstrsse and Rauchstrasse. Masterplan of whole block by Rob Krier. Separate page here for this.

  • 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 My post about this building here. Post blog note: as at July 2009, the front block (pictured) remains, only the rear blocks demolished. 2nd note, March 2013, completely 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.  A whole page, of stuff here, 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).

Next… Sites along the south side of the canal, including a footbridge by Brenner & Tonon, and on the south side of the river, and a row of four fascinating townhouses, by Schiedhelm, Klipper & Partner; Pysall, Jensen & Stahrenberg; von Gerkan, Marg & Partner, and the fourth which I seem to have forgotten to name.

Block 608 – Family Court Building by O.M. Ungers, Hallesches Ufer 66-62.  My post here.

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.  Pages here and a less interesting bit at the end of this post.

Prager Platz – The recreation of a square and surrounding buildings, mainly by Rob Krier, written about here.

Tegeler Hafen – There was also a fairly major development out at Tegel, built around the harbour, which I’ve blogged about here, with work including all sorts of Charles Moore scary stuff, as well as another of the three John Hejduk projects that are a part of the IBA, the “House for two brothers” (below).

A more recent post also, visiting Gustav Peichl’s phosphate treatment plant at the same location. Much more exciting than that sounds.


Spreeufer für Alle!

Kreuzberg is changing again.

Thirty years ago, the area was a dead-end zone along the western side the Berlin wall, slated for large-scale demolition to make way for an inexplicable new motorway plan. Its blocks were in a semi-ruinous state, occupied only by squatters and those too poor to move elsewhere.

In the 1980s the IBA intervention halted this decline and rejuvenated communities, rebuilding blocks and interweaving new schools and amenities into their cores. Of course, the ironic but inevitable long term result was that people like me (middle class people) decided it was the place to move to (“it’s so vibrant darling, so fashionably down at heel…”).

So as a person undermining the established local community, it would be totally hypocritical of me to criticise the next wave of invaders. But here goes…

Around the corner from me is a building still under construction called ‘Carloft’, the idea being that you can keep your car in your apartment with you. This involves giving a lot of floorspace over to carlift machinery, but the flats look pretty big to begin with.

Most existing Kreuzberg residents don’t have cars, and when they do, I’m not sure they’d feel the need to spend a fortune on keeping them in their apartments. But maybe ‘apartment-car’ people are the future.

Website here, if you fancy one (an apartment, not a car).

Anyway, onwards to the point.

This weekend (13th July), a local referendum will ask residents of east Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain whether they support or oppose the MediaSpree; the expansion of the media/office zone along the banks of the river Spree to the east of the centre. There was a protest march today (one thing you can rely on in Berlin is that protests will have really good sound systems) which appropriately passed by Alvaro Siza’s Bonjour Tristesse block. (The banner hanging from the window reads as my header.)

The referendum choices are complex, but seem to boil down to a vote against further large scale development on the banks of the Spree, or continued development with some cycle paths and walking routes.

Some links: (the ‘no’ camp) (the development proposals)

I feel for Berlin’s government here; it has aspirations to be something other than ‘poor but sexy’ (in the words of our mayor) and I guess that the Mediaspree plans are one way this will happen. But whichever way the vote goes, I can’t see eastern Berlin’s world of party beaches and squats lasting indefinitely. It will be a great loss, even if they’re able to move on elsewhere. A still greater loss would be if the long standing communities north and south of the Spree were also forced to migrate.