Campaign ‘Berlin Palace – not in my name’
According to its promoters, the palace replica in the heart of the capital will facilitate the development of a new identity for both Berlin and Germany as a whole following reunification. From the very outset, however, the project has provoked considerable public dissent. The campaign ‘Berlin Palace – not in my name’ kein-schloss-in-meinem-namen.de articulates individuals’ disapproval of the palace project.The new complex to be built on the site of Berlin’s Palace is Germany’s most important cultural scheme and largest public construction project to be commissioned in many decades. According to its promoters, the building in the heart of the capital is intended to facilitate the development of a new identity for both Berlin and Germany as a whole following reunification. From the very outset, however, the project has provoked considerable public dissent.
Francesco Stella’s winning design in the international architecture competition to rebuild Berlin City Palace is a faithful implementation of the political resolutions governing the project adopted by the Federal Parliament and the German Government.
We oppose the palace replica because it stands for an image of Germany’s past and present which we do not share. The idealised reconstruction of the Hohenzollern palace suppresses elements of Germany history. It is a forgetting machine. Almost 600 years of architectural and political history, with its numerous twists and turns, is reduced to an idealised structure characterised by a seemingly timeless form which supresses the conflicts and changes experienced in Germany history and, on reestablishing the tabula rasa, presents to the world the fiction of an unbroken tradition. On this site, so closely intertwined with German history, 20th century details are eradicated allowing a seamless connection to be made to the supposedly ideal world which precededthat epoch.
We oppose the palace replica because it turns its back on the city. The palace was never intended as a public building. The solid facade rebuffs all glances, only the five gateways permit entrance to the building’s introverted interior. It displays no gesture of openness, as may be found, for example, in the loggia and steps fronting Schinkel’s Altes Museum (Old Museum) or in the Staatsoper (State Opera House) where foyer opens out to the street.
We oppose the palace replica because the scheme for its use is unconvincing. In order to justify construction of the palace facade, the spirit of the old palace’s art chambers was revived to create the Humboldt-Forum, a scheme for the building’s use. In the course of the project’s history, the projected area available for use has been halved, whilst no progress has been made on the original idea. Berlin’s Central Library (Landesbibliothek) will remain fragmented on four different sites whereas the original proposal was to unify it at this location. The ethnological collection is to deprived of its European department which will remain in the suburb of Dahlem. The Humboldt-Forum has degenerated to become simply a space-filler and voices increasingly call for its replacement by the Old Masters Collection of the Gemäldegalerie. Should that happen, conventional politics will have superseded an empty promise, robbing the project of its last hint of innovative potential.
We oppose the palace replica because we are critical of the manner in which the project has been pushed through. From the outset in 2001, when the project was first proposed, to shield the scheme from legitimate criticism, the public has been repeatedly deceived on fundamental issues. The misinformation concerned questions of use, costs, financing, start and period of construction. The ends were capable of justifying the means. Fair and reasoned debate was considered equally undesirable as a contest of ideas. The architectural competition lacked the courage to engage with alternative approaches. Even the design attracting the jury’s special prize – considered almost as significant as the first prize itself – was relegated pointedly to the shadows by the competition’s promoters.
The course which has been adopted represents the loss of a historic opportunity to shape this unique location. The construction scheme spoils the view both on the past and the future. To add your name to those expressing their dissent, click here to make your views known.