Within driving range.

It’s still snowing, which should mean that I’m out and about taking lots of pictures of interesting buildings covered in snow.  But I’ve decided not to venture out until spring (with the exception of the Stammtisch on 19th Jan of course) and am therefore continuing to raid my back catalogue of pics for inspiration.  Ah, memories…

Even though Berlin is now more built up than it has been for all of the second half of the twentieth century, it remains (probably) the only western capital city to have enough space to host a golf driving range in its centre.  Then abandon it.  Having already positioned said driving range within an even bigger area of post-industrial wasteland.  In turn surrounded by semi-abandoned buildings.  It’s here (the green bit roughly in the middle).

I’m never sure whether I’m exaggerating to myself here.  Is Berlin really that deserted compared to the only comparitor city that I know really well, London?  And is London really that manically full of people and things, all of them in a hurry?

Anyway, the space in question has everything; formally a vast goods yard/train-type-thing south of the Kanal from Potsdamer Platz – which you can see in the distance in some of the photos.  That sense therefore, of being in a lonely place where something exciting is happening in the distance (don’t worry – it’s Potsdamer Platz, so in fact nothing very exciting is happening).  Abandoned things.

Post blog note: have now looked this site up (via my IBA guide, at least) which shows it as the ‘Former Potsdam Goods Station’, and at the time the book was published, around 1990, still shows tracks and railway buildings.  The buildings immediately to the west, on Flotwell Strasse, were in the IBA programme as blocks 228 – 240, to be redeveloped to a masterplan by Daniel Libeskind.  It looks typically angular, shard-like and bonkers, with a single long rectangualr structure spanning the site longways (north-south) at high level, as a sort of bridge.  The IBA report notes the status as “Finance for Libeskind project open at present”.  Which is a euphemism for ‘nice idea, but no money, sorry’.

The site is just to the west of the huge abandoned train yard which served the Anhalter Station.  The train turntable sheds are now incorporated in the rather fabulous Technikmuseum – well worth a visit – and includes a vast model railway of part of the goods yards and the Anhalter station itself.

The rear end of the Bombadier company, who still make trains:

Gleisdreieck* U-Bahn station (*’Three-cornered platform’, I guess).

Apologies for poor photo quality – it was darker than it looks, I pressed the wrong buttons on the camera, and had no tripod.

It’s just occurred to me that this post, and several others preceding it, are not really about architecture at all.  Urbanism, at a push maybe.  Sorry for that.  I don’t blame you really for visiting a site called ‘Architecture in Berlin’ and complaining that it should have been called ‘Gloomy Places in Berlin’.  A host of sunlit happy buildings to be featured soon.


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