Urban Development  
 

Capital City Berlin - Development Programme 1993 until 2013

illustration: city map with timeline Government District Old and new buildings of the Federal Foreign Office, 2013
Old and new buildings of the Federal Foreign Office
© DSK, 2013
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The Old and the New


The government district is also a magnet for visitors, but we must always keep struggling for the best solution with every project. It will continue that way for a while.
Regula Lüscher, 2011


When it was decided in the summer of 1991 that Germany’s government and parliament would move from Bonn to Berlin, the city faced an enormous urban planning challenge. Berlin had been divided for 40 years. The development programme had to encompass not only re-connecting traffic routes, conduits and canals that had been riven in two, it also had to repair blemishes – the destruction of the original city layout and traffic routes that city planner Dieter Hoffmann-Axthelm described as a kind of open wound. He said that "Berliners don’t have a real city centre; all they have is two misshapen cities, and the division remains".

Given that situation, a separate "government district" would only have contributed to the further fragmentation of a city structure that was seemingly irrevocably dismembered when the Berlin Wall was built. Instead, the development programme set a goal of integrating a variety of urban typologies since, until 1945, Berlin combined industrial areas with retail zones, working class neighbourhoods and tracts of villas.

It was that kind of mix, arising organically over time, that became the ideal for the new Berlin. That did not mean pedantically replicating the old buildings, but rather the opposite. It meant an ongoing process of weighing alternatives and balancing modern buildings, suited to the demands of the 21st century, with reconstituting traditional elements that could now endow the city’s identity.

Gradually, step by step, the results of planning that was based in part on uncovering historic structures are becoming visible in the cityscape.

Left picture: Palast der Republik in the foreground and former East German Ministry for Foreign Affairs in the background, 1977
Right picture: Demolition of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 1995
Left picture: Palast der Republik in the foreground and former East German Ministry for Foreign Affairs in the background  © D. Breitenborn, 1977
Right picture: Demolition of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs  © J. Stefane, 1995

For instance, as early as 1995, planners began dismantling the former East German Ministry for Foreign Affairs, a massive building 145 metres long and 44 meters high. This not only opened up that section of the city, it also made space to re-develop the entire area between Werderscher Markt, the Spree canal and Unter den Linden boulevard.

This was the only way it was possible to rebuild Schinkelplatz, dedicated in 2008, in keeping with historic garden preservation guidelines and according to the original plans by Peter Joseph Lenné. This public space is located between the reconstructed building of the Kommandantur, the Friedrichwerdersche Kirche and the planned reconstruction of the Bauakademie, which for the time being is indicated with a simulation using "model corners".

text: Jochen Stöckmann

Road construction in the area of the development programme

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before and after

Compare the before with the after state more