Urban Development  

Capital City Berlin - Development Programme 1993 until 2013

illustration: city map with timeline Government District
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New Life

The city needed form – and we have tried to give it back to it.
Hans Stimmann, 2006

It´s not difficult to become a capital city, but being one comes with certain requirements. It is a credit to the judicious and foresighted planning that began after the 1991 parliamentary decision to move the capital that Berlin´s "government district", instead of hanging like a millstone around the city´s neck, actually provides it with a new urban stimulus.

The parliament and government offices, along with embassies, ministries and administrative offices, with their enormous demand for space, were not simply placed in a separate location as a block, but were considered individually and interwoven into the city’s existing urban structure.

Between the television tower at Alexanderplatz, the Brandenburger Tor and the Victory Column – the landmarks of a city divided until 1989 into east and west – Berlin after 20 years of development now offers much more than just functioning infrastructure. It offers exciting architecture and recreational green spaces, a worthy setting for state visits and sightseeing tourists. It offers even old-guard Berliners a new appreciation of the history of their city.
Every day, the newly re-developed central district functions as a focal point, even when the fan mile along the Straße des 17. Juni is not filled with hundreds of thousands of people. Whether it is train travellers and residents, personnel from the Europacity development across from the main train station, joggers in Tiergarten park, art lovers coming from the cultural venues surrounding the Philharmonic Hall, or parliamentarians on their way to the assembly – all those paths cross in front of the Reichstag, or they pass each other next to the Chancellery, or they traverse the government district along the paths along the bend of the Spree.

Kapelleufer under construction (2003) and with completed riverside and Hugo-Preuss-Brücke (2013)
Kapelleufer under construction (2003) and with completed riverside and Hugo-Preuss-Brücke (2013)

In 1989, the Berlin Wall ran right through here. Today, the once-desolate area is characterised by the urban green of Spreebogen Park, the buildings of the Kulturforum and the Platz der Republik, all structured as part of the "federal ribbon" of government buildings.

Within the area, the urban planning designs of Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank link the formerly divided east and west sides of the city with the line of the Chancellery garden, the Chancellery itself and the Forum, the Paul-Löbe-building, as well as the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders building across the way (both by the architect Stephan Braunfels), currently undergoing expansion. And they link them not with an overweening magisterial quality, but rather as an equally imposing axis, but one that is interrupted twice by the flow of the Spree.

text: Jochen Stöckmann

Reichstagufer (1997) and Reichstagufer / Schiffbauerdamm (2013)
Reichstagufer (© T. Rückeis,1997) and Reichstagufer / Schiffbauerdamm (© DSK, 2013)

The area of the development programme is about the size of 365 football (soccer) fields.

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