The big local news here in Berlin are the mutual consent of the city of Berlin and the federal government of Germany on the financing of the Humboldt Forum – a collection of buildings in the heart of Berlin intended for cultural and scientific interchange.

On the place of the Humboldt forum there used to be the Berliner Stadtschloss. It was the principal residence of the Kings of Prussia from 1701 and of the German Emperors from 1871 until 1918 following the fall of the German monarchy in 1918 when it became a museum. It was severely damaged by Allied bombing in World War II and was demolished by the German Democratic Republic authorities in 1950. On the place of the Stadtschloss the Palast der Republik was built. It served primarily as the seat of the East German parliament. In 1990 the building was found to be contaminated with asbestos and was closed. By 2003, all the asbestos had been removed along with internal and external fittings and was ready for demolition. Demolition started on 6 February 2006 and is scheduled to last about 15 months. In between 2003 and 2006 the palace was used for concerts and exhibitions.

The plans for the use of the Humboldt forum are not finalized yet. The current plans are that the collections for non-European culture of the Stfitung preussischer Kulturbesitz will find their place there. On the other hand the city of Berlin wanted to allocate space for the Humboldt University (in particular for a museum for the history of science) and the Berlin state library, but due to the limited financial means of Berlin (Berlin pays 32 million Euros the federal state 480 million) this future is not clear yet.

The architectural future is not clear either. There exists a private initiative, which wants to reconstruct the old facade of the Berliner Stadtschloss for which they want to donate 80 million Euro. Although I have nothing in principle against architectural pastiches/hodge-podges, I think an almost complete reconstruction of the facade gives a strange image about the democratic development of Germany. Plus: spending 80 million Euro for a facade in view of a massive public library die off in the last years here in Berlin is not really justifyable.

->watch the demolition (webcam)

4 Responses to “stadtschloss”

  1. Nathaniel Foye Says:

    If the Berlin government wishes to resurrect The Stadtschloss, why not? Reproducing lost monuments is not the great sin some believe, but may be essential to retain a connection with history. Replicas are not always inferior copies, but if done well and with conviction, are more like worthy second attempts — for example: The Frauenkirche in Dresden, or The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.

    To that end, it would be better to rebuild The Stadtschloss more accurately than is currently planned, without the intrusive (and unpleasantly generic) Modernist partitions and rear facade. Mixing incongruous styles within a single building is rarely successful, and usually produces mongrels.

  2. nad Says:

    @Nathaniel Foye
    The monarchy in Germany was abolished after the first world war and the castle was not only a piece of architecture but also a representative of this monarchy, likewise was the Palace of the republic a representative of the GDR. So apart from the architectural perspective there is also a rather strong political perspective coming with this particular piece of architecture.

    It was also not planned to resurrect the Stadtschloss, but basically just the facade on three sides. So this is actually a “mix of styles”. You can see the result here. The architecture gives no references to the Palace of the Republic and apart from the fact that one side looks “modern” it gives no reference to the difficult history of the location.

    Recently there have been quite some changes of the architecture of Berlin. I had reported about some, in particular the demolishment of pubs, which are now -because of the pandemie- under an even worse threat.
    For the Berlin inner city there are many new skyscrapers planned and artist pappelappl envisaged the future of the sight on Berlins center in an oil painting:

    artwork: Oil on canvas 80x100cm, Title: “picknick in grunerparadise”, Artist “pappelappl”

    (Higher Resolution)

  3. Waldmeistersoufflépartisan Says:

    Seems you are not so happy with some new Berlin architecture. What about the planned Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts (Wikipedia). Would be interesting to hear your opinion.

  4. Unterschenkelversicherung Says:

    The problem here seems to be that a certain Berlin local crowd sees everything too gloomy and too pessimistic. It is all a question of perspective, even Grunerstrasse can look gorgeous from or -better- with the right perspective. For some upbeat views on an amazing world I recommend Jonna Jinton’s optimistic Videos.

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