Urban Development  

Capital City Berlin - Development Programme 1993 until 2013

illustration: city map with timeline Government District panoramic view: Pariser Platz / Brandenburger Tor, 2013
Pariser Platz / Brandenburger Tor
© DSK, 2013
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Among Society

We did not agree to cooperate in making Berlin the capital so that big brother could play marbles with little brother, but rather so that two equal partners could work together to accomplish something properly.
Wolfgang Nagel, 1993

The face of the "Republic of Berlin" is no longer that of the flat, plain chancellor’s bungalow that served as the Berlin outpost when the government was based in Bonn. Now, the city has a distinctive Chancellery, an imposing 36 meters in height. Very few political reporters for TV can resist using this modern counterpoint to the historic Reichstag building 50 as a background for their stand-ups.

Twenty years after Berlin’s coordinated development programme began, this urban expanse, containing the symbolically weighted buildings of parliament and government, the legislative and executive branches, the "federal ribbon" as it is called, is an ideal open-air venue for staging daily "public" events. Nor is that limited only to the media, to a colourful background shot with a long lens. It also allows for very real encounters between politicians and their constituents. This was achieved by surrounding the parliament and government buildings with broad boulevards and generous green spaces. Once that was done, it provided space for a broad spectrum of public use, from everyday strolls to grand celebrations and even demonstrations.

illustration: Public Open and Green Spaces 1993 / 2013
Public Open and Green Spaces 1993 / 2013

That characteristic impression of casual transparency is underscored by things like the fl ying roofs at Spreeplatz, the invitingly broad outdoor steps and the “leap over the Spree”, an f ligreed bridge that architect Stephan Braunfels used to connect the Paul-Löbe-building and the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-building on two levels – an upper level for parliamentarians and a lower level for the public. The security measures that are necessary for the government district dictate that separation. But the detail planning included plans to make sure that exclusionary character was not prominent. For instance, the row of bollards that the architects of Moore Ruble Yudell have planned for the American embassy at Pariser Platz barely detracts from the impression of transparency.

text: Jochen Stöckmann
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