Urban Construction  

 

Alexanderplatz

Development of the modern transport hub in the Weimar Republic


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traffic in the morning at Alexanderplatz

The growing transport hub

With its special transport situation, Alexanderplatz attracted hotels, restaurants, and cafes, theatres, cinemas, and department stores and developed within a few decades into an area that had the true character of a city centre. In the early years of the 20th century it gradually assumed functions in relation to the entire city, a development that reached its climax in the 1920s and 1930s.

Built to plans drawn up by J. Bousset (from 1913 onwards) and designed by Alfred Grenander (1927-31), the underground station at Alexanderplatz was conceived as a multilevel hub, that sought to separate and organise public transport in a way that was exemplary for its time, routing it on a total of five levels so that none of the lines crossed each other. The mainline and suburban railways were routed on elevated tracks, the three underground railway lines ran on three different levels below ground, and at ground level omnibusses and trams ran alongside private traffic which, at the time, still included the broadest range of vehicles – both motorised and non-motorised.

Alexanderplatz developed into one of the busiest transport hubs in Europe. The number of vehicles crossing Alexanderplatz increased from about 1.200 vehicles daily in 1918 to approximately 229.000 in 1939.

View from Alexanderplatz onto Königstraße, 1929
View from Alexanderplatz onto Königstraße, 1929

The shaping of a metropolitan square

Completely in line with the spirit of Modernism and a vision of the future that affirmed the new motor traffic as a sign of progress, Martin Wagner in his role as City Architect, attempted at the end of the 1920s to tackle the traffic problems of Alexanderplatz and at the same time to create an architecturally uniform square with spatial coherency. He was responsible for the very first project on which all subsequent planning schemes were based.
The layout of the square that was historically divided into several sections is abandoned in this scheme in favour of a horseshoe-shaped area on which Wagner placed a traffic island, which would take the traffic flow from the large number of roads and distribute it effectively. The grassy rondell in the centre of the square across which only tramlines were allowed to run, had a diameter of 100 metres.
In order to ensure that the new square would have an architectural coherency despite the total of six roads converging here, Wagner built a structure across the junction of Landsberger Allee and Königstraße level with the third storey of the surrounding seven-storey development.

Also Hermann Tietz as owner of the department store "Tietz" was willing to refurbish the façade of his building facing Alexanderplatz in order to adapt to the new design.

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  View from St. Georg´s church in western direction onto Alexanderplatz and Königstraße, around 1930
View from St. Georg´s church in western direction onto Alexanderplatz and Königstraße, around 1930

Traffic at Alexanderplatz
Traffic at Alexanderplatz

View from Königstraße onto viaduct and train station Alexanderplatz, 1929
View from Königstraße onto viaduct and train station Alexanderplatz, 1929



Model of the Alexanderplatz-planning by M. Wagner, 1929
Model of the Alexanderplatz-planning by M. Wagner, 1929

 
 


 
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