All just a facade?

First, an image of the new Temporäre Kunsthalle, which is, at the time of writing, literally just a facade. The building is essentially a box, the exterior a blank canvas, onto which a design by artist Gerwald Rockenschaub has been painted. The art inside won’t be ready until the end of October.


The simplicity of the design makes the photo look like a montage, although it’s real (I took some photos, but the press images were better, so I used one of those).

Of course what you can’t see in the image (well you can just make out the last bits of staircores) is the Palast der Republik, still being demolished, seemingly by one guy, who only works weekends.   Eventually, it will make way for a sort of replica of the baroque Stadtschloss (Berlin’s original royal palace), to be known as the Humboldt-Forum.

I say ‘sort of’ replica, as the plan is to create a dog’s dinner involving the rebuilding of three of the four sides, plus an interior courtyard.  The elevation onto the Spree, and much of the interior, is to be in an unspecified ‘modern style’. Whatever that means.  The project’s website is here, and in keeping with the overall concept, is fantastically badly designed. Oddly, the same organisation publishes a very professional looking newspaper, which I think comes out monthly, and is lightyears better than the website.  I’ve discovered that Berlin is not a website sort of place (as you’ll know if you’re Googling for proper information but keep getting my site).

Essentially the building will be used to house collections from Berlin’s existing major museums.  An original plan to make it the home of the state library (ZLB) has apparently been reduced down to a token amount of floor space.

“The Humboldt Forum will be the Pompidou Centre of the 21st Century” claimed the head of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation recently.  This seems extremely unlikey, given that the design seems to be a failure of imagination in terms of what could be achieved, and also because, well, it will look like a great big baroque palace.

To quote the Berliner Zeitung:

“The idea of the Humboldt Forum on the Schlossplatz, this lively, modern, democratic combination of a central library, the museums of non-European cultures, and the university collection, is dead. Stone dead.

Why did this disaster occur? The idea of the Humboldt Forum fell victim to the wish to reconstruct the palace façade. The total area of land would actually have been sufficient to accommodate a museum, a library, a university collection, exhibition space, cinemas, cafés, and event space — but only if the building is not restricted to the cramped confines within the Baroque palace façade. If the façade is rebuilt, then only 50,000 square meters, out of the available 160,000-square-meter area (of Schlossplatz) is left over. And Berlin and the federal government want to build as quickly as possible … to prevent a new generation from discarding the palace façade idea.

Thanks to the palace façade and the rush to build, the ZLB – which has been promised an extension for over 20 years – will have to continue to wait until the politicians finally understand that a broad national education has something to do with the economic and cultural success of a country.”

Oh well.

(Image is one I took at the press launch for the Temporary Kunsthalle construction, back in June. Palast der Republik in the background. More images, including the Mayor looking very smooth, here.)


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