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Museum Tour

House of World Cultures

Haus der Kulturen der Welt

John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
10557 Berlin

The Congress Hall in Tiergarten was the United States contribution to "Interbau 1957" and in collaboration with Werner Düttmann and Franz Mocken was designed by Hugh A. Stubbins, assistant to Walter Gropius in Harvard after the war. The role of client was taken over by the Benjamin Franklin Foundation, established solely for this purpose and dissolved in 1968.

Stubbins interpreted his bold parabolic roof, which was to rest on two points only, as symbolizing freedom of thought. The roof was responsible for the building's nickname "the pregnant oyster".

Most of the rooms are located in the unobtrusive pedestal building: an exhibition hall, a restaurant, cafés, and conference rooms. Throning above this two-storey base is the auditorium, which resembles a sculpture similar to that positioned on the roof terrace. The main entrance and car ramp are located underneath the broad flight of steps leading to the terrace.

The location, with its direct line of vision to the Reichstag building, on the spot where "In den Zelten" stood before the war, was consciously chosen as a symbol of post-war reconstruction and the new role of West Berlin.

The Congress Hall served as a temporary home for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for several years. In May 1980, the roof caved in as a result of corrosion in prestressed elements of the supporting girders. An SFB journalist was buried under the debris.

The roof was rebuilt between 1984 and 1987 with a new, more effective construction under the planning direction of Peter Störl and Wolf-Rüdiger Borchardt.

The Congress Hall has been used as the House of World Cultures since 1989. With an extensive programme of exhibitions, lectures and concerts, it presents a forum for the art and culture of countries outside Europe.

Further information:

  Timeline img_S61_3

Landesarchiv Berlin / Bert Sass
Landesarchiv Berlin / Ludwig Ehlers
Landesarchiv Berlin / Otto Hagemann
Haus der Kulturen der Welt / Sabine Wenzel
Haus der Kulturen der Welt / Frank Paul (2)


Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment
Württembergische Straße 6, 10707 Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 90139-3000

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