The Unbuilt Berlin

Hans and Wassili Luckhardt's Concert Hall 1948 © The Unbuilt

An exhibit on display at Café Moskau in Berlin, a historic building from the early 1960s, is currently showing hundreds of unbuilt past visions for the city.  Collected by architect Carsten Krohn, the unbuilt Berlin projects showcase architects’ relentless fascination with the city that has such a rich history.  The projects, which were designed between 1907 and 1997, exemplify different theories and design approaches of the era.  The proposals, although all different, share the common desire to re-conceptualize and challenge the accepted architectural ways of the time.  The projects were a way for the architects to create a new identity for the city with dramatically cutting edge ideas – such as Mies van der Rohe’s plans for a skyscraper on Friedrich Strasse in 1921.

Erich Mendelsohn's High rise on Frederick Street 1929 © The Unbuilt Berlin

A lot of visionary ideas intended for Berlin were never realized due to various historical happenings, such as the construction and fall of the Berlin Wall, which hindered building planning.   Yet, the exhibit is a way to see and imagine what could have been if, perhaps, Austrian architect Joseph Maria Olbrich’s new central square were constructed, or if Ludwig Hilbersheimer’s 1924 vision of a “commercial city” were implemented.

Ludwig Hilbersheimer plan for Gendarmenmarkt Square 1928 © The Unbuilt Berlin

The most interesting proposals are the ones that were classified as too radical for their time.  Take, for instance, 26 year-old German architect Werner Kallmorgen’s “Tiergarten-ring” of 1928 – a 14 kilometer long, four-story development that enclosed the famous Berlin park, turning it into a recreational area.  Even though the proposals are old, the ideas are not outdated – they are still inspiring and captivating.

Ron Herron's New Congress Hall 1980 © The Unbuilt Berlin

Over the years, and especially after reunification, Berlin has been a city of dreams for many architects — after all, there are not many cities where one would find such huge holes in the center of the such a big city. Even in this century, many of those holes still exist — and great architectural ideas are still being solicited,” added Ingeborg Wiensowski, author of  The City that Never Was.

Special thanks to Herta Manenti for sharing this news with us.

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "The Unbuilt Berlin" 05 Aug 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Dec 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=71940>