Ritterstrasse North & South Sites, Wohnpark Am Museum, Rob Krier, Kollhoff/Ovaska and others

An unexpectedly hot day in early May seemed like a good moment to get some comprehensive images of these sites, so here they are.

I’ve written that the strength of much of the IBA 1987 designs (both Altbau and Neubau) is their relationship with open space and communal areas, and this seems especially true here.

For completeness, a geopgraphical definition of each of the three:

‘Ritterstrasse North’ – north of Ritterstrasse – the site bounded by Alte Jakobstrasse, Ritterstrasse, Lindenstrasse and Oranienstrasse, with Feilnerstrasse cutting through the middle. The masterplan is by Krier/Kohl, with several individual buildings by him, including the ‘notorious’ Schinkel facade on (logically) Schinkelplatz. The other architects are listed on his own site.

‘Ritterstrasse South’ – south of Ritterstrasse – the site bounded by Alte Jakobstrasse, Ritterstrasse and Lindenstrasse, to the north of the Berlinische gallery. Masterplan again by Krier/Kohl.

‘Museum Am Wohnpark’ covers the rest of the block immediately to the south of this, plus the development to the south of Am Berlin-Museum, down to the Jewish Museum, all bounded by Lindenstrasse on the western side, Alte Jakobstrasse on the east. Masterplan by Hans Kollhoff and Arthur Ovaska.

Many architects and critics detest Krier’s work, and that of his contemporaries. I can kind of understand why – it’s a deliberate reaction against 20th century modernism, with much arbitrary decor and form-making. The recreation of a rennaissance facade at Ritterstrasse north (see below) is postmodernism at its zenith, or its nadir, depending on your point of view.

But here’s the thing. Wandering around the blocks (the Krier ones in particular) you come across italianate archways leading to hidden gardens, occasional genuine ruins, greenery and diversity everywhere. There are no big architectural ideas, but the overall effect is of a place created entirely for the residents and their private open spaces (although the gardens and communal areas are generally not barred).

A short but interesting post on Krier & Kohl is here, for a different point of view.

The facades onto the busier main streets are nothing special – unremarkable 80s postmodernism in red brick and blue/green windows and doors. I’d passed many of these facades before and never noticed them. But I wonder if this is deliberate, to emphasize the quality of what’s inside?

Anyway, to the images…

Ritterstrasse North

That Schinkel facade

Some really uninspired street facades…

But with something quite different within, definitely something italian rennaissance in flavour, or perhaps more Portmeirion?


And the most familiar view (well, to archinerds like me) on Oranienstrasse. It actually doesn’t work that well; it’s not an entrance of any sort, and grass won’t grow under the arch, the lawn just peters out to dusty earth. Love the ivy though.

Ritterstrasse South

The plans for the block north of Am Berlin-Museum retain the former Victoria Insurance building. I walked through the site from the east, so came across the partly complete neoclassical architecture of the Victoria building by accident. As you pass through this on to Lindenstrasse, you find yourself in a sort of tomb-like space, badly damaged in places, but retained.

The much criticised entrance block by Werner Kreis Ulrich and Peter Scheid, sitting uneasily next to the old and new (Libeskind) Jewish museums.

As with Ritterstrasse north, street facades are at best unimpressive (corner of Lindenstrasse and Am Berlin-Museum, Victoria Insurance building behind the trees to the left). The Kollhoff & Ovaska centre/right.

The tomb-like entrance from Lindenstrasse

And the courtyard building beyond, by Arata Isozaki

The italianate ‘buildings as ruins’ fantasy continues here and there, with ruins of an entrance portal, bases of walls etc, surrounded by a ‘hof’ so large and green that it feels like a piece of woodland.

Below left: Dieter Frowein & Gerhard Spangenberg, block facing onto Berlinische Gallery. Below right: Kollhof and Ovaska block, entrance onto Am Berlin-Museum. A good link for Kollhof & Ovaska’s blcoks here.

Then south of Am Berlin-Museum. I don’t have the architect(s) for these town house blocks, but note that the landscaping in the hofs is particularly good – note the detailing of the bin store. Normally refuse storage and removal is an afterthought.

Long block on Alte Jakobstrasse, by Stavoprojekt Liberec


One thought on “Ritterstrasse North & South Sites, Wohnpark Am Museum, Rob Krier, Kollhoff/Ovaska and others

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