Destruction at Lützowplatz

Here are the reasons I can think of to demolish a building which is only 20 years old:

1. It was built to be temporary

2. It was an unmitigated disaster on technical grounds (ceilings too low to stand up, they forgot the foundations/roof/stairs etc)

3. Something unspeakably horrible happened there (and even then demolition is highly debatable)

O M Ungers’ housing on Lützowplatz, completed in 1984 as part of the International Bauasutelling, is none of the above. Apparently well liked by its residents, who fought a legal campaign against demolition, it’s to be replaced by a predictable mix of office space, luxury flats and a hotel.  Unger’s trademark rectilinear facade, based as always around squares and cubes, is not to everyone’s taste. But here I think it works well, given the difficult setting of a long frontage against a busy road.

But as is often the case with Berlin’s IBA projects, a strong, defensive facade protects (sorry, protected) inner courtyards and open spaces where the larger froms breakdown into freestanding townhouse blocks and tiers of balconies.

As of today (31st October) the front block is still occupied above the ground floor, but I assume these will be moving shortly. So from the front all still appears well. But round the back…

The individual townhouses are gone, and the two ‘bookend’ blocks onto the side streets at either end of the site are coming down fast.

As far as I’m aware it’s the first demolition of an IBA Neubau project (many of the Altbau projects have been altered, but often this was the plan). Cities have to change to live, but I find this particular example unnecessary and an act of architectural vandalism.

A bit of useful info here, more of my images here.

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?).

The IBA 1987, Neubau

So here’s my plan. 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.

IMG_3673

 

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).

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:
http://www.ms-versenken.org (the ‘no’ camp)
http://www.mediaspree.de (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.

The Berlin IBA 1987

“… the greatest creations of architecture are not so much the product of individual labour, rather the product of social endeavour, they are things simply cobbled together by working people, rather than inspired inventions of the creative genius, they are the traces a nation leaves behind, the strata deposited by the centuries, the lees of successive evaporations of human society, in short they are a kind of geological formation”.

Victor Hugo

In the UK, the term postmodernism is still a dirty word; it refers to that clunky jokey-neoclassical architecture that was used to design speculative, planning-restriction-free office developments in the Thatcherite years of the 1980s.

But in Berlin at that time, postmodernism was the style of a different kind of development – carefully planned urban housing and infrastructure projects. In the UK, architects had withdrawn from designing mass housing after the disastrous social experimentation of the 1960s and 1970s. In Germany, they just went back to the drawing board.

In 1979, West Berlin commenced an international competition for reconstructing parts of the city, respecting (or reintroducing) the city’s original urban street plans – the foundation of Critical Reconstruction which was to become the basic principle for rebuilding post-wall Berlin.

Initially, the idea was to have a building exhibition much like the 1957 Interbau (the Hansaviertel) – a one-off presentation of the latest in design at a single site. But the programme was subsequently expanded into an ongoing 10 year research programme of new construction and refurbishment across the city, focusing on areas still completely empty since the war (for new buildings), but also on the ‘SO36’ area of Kreuzberg, which was fast decaying into an urban slum area of squats and low rent, poor quality housing.

The original idea of a ‘building show’ survived, primarily in southern Tiergarten, but for me the integrated refurbishment and rebuilding of the existing grain of Berlin’s Kreuzberg quarter is by far the more interesting part.

IBA stands for Internationale Bauaustellung, by the way. Initially known as ‘the IBA 1984’, delays led to a renaming as ‘the IBA 1987’, although to declare it as any single year belies the underlying principle that it was a long term project, which also founded a company, S.T.E.R.N. to continue its work.

The programme was divided into ‘IBA Neubau’ (new buildings), under Josef Paul Kleihues, and ‘IBA Altbau’ (mainly the repair and alteration of existing blocks), under Hardt-Waltherr Hämer. Neubau was across Tegel, Prager Platz, southern Tiergarten and southern Friedrichstadt, Altbau in Kreuzberg only. Altbau includes many new buildings, such as Alvaro Siza’s Bonjour Tristesse (see below) but was tag was given to signify that such buildings were integrated into existing street blocks.

I have started adding and regrouping individual projects under two other pages – see IBA Neubau and IBA Altbau. So treat the list below as a sort of ‘sampler’ list.

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

One other thing; it’s quite easy to judge these buildings superficially, by the style of their facades, which often have not suffered well at the hands of the architectural fashion-makers. But what strikes you most as you walk around them is the thought that’s gone into the integration of the buildings, especially the communal spaces in the ‘hofs’ behind. Photos don’t really do these justice.

Hinrich & Inken Baller – Apartment Blocks on Fraenkelufer, 1982-1984

I’ve set up a separate page for this, here.

Buildings on Fraenkelufer, 87 Interbau

 

Peter Eisenmann and Thomas Leeser – ‘Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie’, Kochstrasse 62-63, Kreuzberg, 1982-1984

This block must have been bizarrely close to the wall when completed; its lower floors now house the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. Eisenmann’s best known work in Berlin is of course the Holocaust Memorial.

Confusingly, across the road, is a second building often published as ‘Haus am Checkpoint Charlie’ (House at Checkpoint Charlie), but this one is by OMA (Rem Koolhaus, Elia Zenghalis, and a certain Matthias Sauerbruch, now of Sauerbruch Hutton), 1981-1989

Separate page on it here.

Ritterstrasse North and South Sites, Kreuzberg

Rob KrierMasterplanning of Ritterstrasse North (1982-1989) and Ritterstrasse South site (1978-1980).

Loads on this, on a separate page here.

Krier also designed individual buildings on the site, including the Feilnerhaus on Schinkelplatz (a reconstruction of the facade of a Karl Friedrich Schinkel building?). There’s a list of architects who designed buildings within Ritterstr north on his own site.

Wohnpark Am Berlin Museum (Residential Park by Berlin Museum)

This is immediately to the south of the Ritterstrasse sites, so I’ve wrapped it all up in a single separate page, which is here. But in summary:

  • Hans Kollhoff and Arthur Ovaska did the (much developer-altered) masterplan for the huge site, incorporating two old buildings; the Berlin Museum and the former Victoria Insurance building. Individual designs by:
  • Arata Isozaki – Lindenstrasse 15-19, 1982-1986
  • Werner Kreis, Ulrich & Peter Schaad – Entrance block on Lindenstrasse
  • Stavoprojekt Liberec – long block on Alte Jakobstrasse
  • Kollhoff & Ovaska – block behind the Victoria Insurance building
  • Dieter Frowein & Gerhard Spangenberg – block on northeast edge

Rauchstrasse, Tiergarten

Link to a fuller page here, summary as follows:

  • Rob Krier – Masterplanning of whole site, 1980-1985, individual buildings generally 1983-1985
  • Krier also designed the arched gateway building into the site (Rauchstrasse 4-10); other architects are again listed on his site, but are hopefully covered here:
  • Aldo Rossi – Townhouse
  • Bangert, Jansen, Scholz, Schultes – Four Townhouses, Rauchstrasse 19-20
  • Nicola Battista, Giorgio Grassi, Edoardo Guazzoni, Guido Zanella – Townhouse at Rauchstrasse 3
  • Hans Hollein, with H Strenner, W Fritsch, U Liebl, K Matuschek, F Madl, D Nehnig, E Pedevialla – Rauchstrasse 4 – 10
  • Klaus Theo Brenner & Benedict Tonon – Townhouse

Aldo Rossi, with Jay Johnson, Gianni Braghieri, Christopher Stead South Friedrichstadt Block 10, Wilhelmstrasse 36-38; Kochstrasse 1-4, Kreuzberg, 1981-1988

A separate post on Aldo Rossi’s later Berlin housing work here.

Charles Moore, John Ruble, Buzz Yudell and others (have seen listed as ‘Urban Innovations Group) – Apartments ‘Am Tegeler Hafen, Reinickendorf, 1987

The US firm ‘Moore Ruble Yudell’ is currently completing the new US Embassy here in Berlin.

O M UngersFlats on Köthener Strasse 35-37; Bernburger Str, Kreuzberg, 1987

Steidle & Partner (Roland Sommer, Otto Steidle, Siegwart Geiger, Peter Böhm)Housing for Elderly, Köpenicker Strasse 190-193, Kreuzberg, 1985-1987

See separate page here.

 

John Hedjuk – Apartments, Charlottenstrasse, Steglitz-Zehlendorf, 1988

See separate page here.

Zaha Hadid‘IBA Block B, Stesemannstrasse, 1987-1994. It’s next door to an office building by Will Alsop (which is not partof the IBA). Both are early works, and are not recognisably the fluid deconstructivism of Hadid or the blobby fun of Alsop. I’ve done a separate page here.