Urban Construction  

 

Archive: The Capital City of Berlin - Documentation

Quality through Competitions – Designing the Parliamentary and Government Quarter


1993 - The Spreebogen International Urban Planning Ideas Competition (On 18 February 1993 the jury met in the former Staatsratsbuilding at Schloßplatz); Photo: Landesarchiv Berlin/Platow, Thomas
1993 - The Spreebogen International Urban Planning Ideas Competition (On 18 February 1993 the jury met in the former Staatsratsbuilding at Schloßplatz); Photo: Landesarchiv Berlin/Platow, Thomas

Competitions were widely used in developing design aspects of the Parliamentary and Government Quarter. The majority of the urban developmental, architectural and public space decisions were prepared in this way, opening the planning process to more creative thinkers and allowing a large potential of ideas to be included. In addition, a wider public is reached with competitions, through the planning discussions and the presentation of entries.

City planning and architectural competitions were introduced as a way to finding solutions for public building projects after the first world war. This important development was pushed through by the organised architectural profession, in order to at least partly replace the authoritative awarding of state building projects and thereby acquire access to public building contracts.

Competitions and democracy

However, competitions alone are no guarantee for democratic planning. For example, competitions were held under the National Socialists - the first large one being held in 1937 as an academic competition for the East-West-Axis of the new imperial capital. It is not the competition but the general political and planning framework which determines whether building will be carried out democratically or authoritatively. The basic principle of the National Socialist planning for Berlin was the appointment of the "General Building Inspector for the Imperial Capital of Berlin" as the state planning authority, directly responsible to Hitler. An important precondition for the democratic planning process for the Capital City of Berlin after 1991 consists of there being no superordinate national planning authority appointed and that the decision-making capabilities remain with the communal institutions. The distribution of planning capabilities between Federation, States and Boroughs, as is regulated in the Federal Republic of Germany by the assignment of responsibilities and planning levels, was deliberately retained.