Entwurf Bolles + Wilson (1993)

Der Entwurf des Architekturbüros Bolles + Willson sieht die Rekonstruktion einzelner bedeutender Innenräume des ehemaligen Berliner Schlosses innerhalb eines neuen Bauwerks vor. Zudem wird die Schinkelsche Bauakademie gleich zweimal rekonstruiert: Einmal am Originalstandort, ein weiteres mal am Standort des ehemaligen Apothekerflügels gegenüber dem Dom.
Shortly before the „Wende“ Bolles+Wilson proposed a „Forum of Sand“ (Ausstellung Berlin – Denkmal oder Denkmodell 1988) for the Culture Forum between the National Gallery and Scharoun’s Philharmonie. Brandenburg sand, the unstable material on which Berlin floats. (Sand, a city-spanning strip of which was at that time guarded by floodlights and sentries.) A circle of ennobled sand, like a raked Japanese garden.

The only object to occupy this formalised urban emptiness was a hovering disconnected bridge, a reduced public forum. This was the magnificent riveted „Pfennig-Brücke“ relocated from Wedding where it at that time stood, impotent, one end welded to the „Wall“. A pre-block infected Fritz Neumeyer wrote an euphoric article for the Dutch magazine Archis on the appropriateness of placing this nineteenth century megalith adjacent to Mies’s hovering steel roof. It was the „Pfennig-Brücke“ argued Neumeyer that Mies passed under daily as the project architect for Behrend’s AEG Wedding Hallen and subsequently abstracted as the hovering black square of the National Gallery roof. These themes of „urban emptiness“ and the pure hovering Waffel were reworked in our „Post-Wende“ Forum of Water design.

Exhibited in 1993 in the „contra-historical reconstruction“ section of the exhibition „Das Schloß“ deep within that summer’s scaffold and canvas simulation of what was once one of Europe’s most immovable mass of stone. A blatantly uncritical reconstruction lobby neglected any difficult form/content questions, Kaiser’s Schloß as a particular sequence of salons, an unrepeatable massing of material, not just an external image.

Our Forum of Water was not motivated by the intention to reinstate the Schloß as object, (historic or otherwise). It was concerned with a reconstitution of the surrounding urban spaces, urban rooms. Schinkels dynamic (practically Greek) choreography of spaces between Bauakademie, Altes Museum and the central Monolith is what we consider worth restoring. To reclaim centrestage, to re-instate the absent actor Schloß, should in our opinion remain an ambiguous act (no Disneyfication). Knowing the importance Berliners place on Traufhöhe we took the upper datum from the original Schloß as defining line both for the new object and surrounding spaces.

Our building does not sit on the ground, it hovers, like the National Gallery roof, which in turn takes its theme from the support/supported discourse of Schinkels Altes Museum (cornice and columns). The hovering building (underside 22 m high) leaves the ground level of its site free, in a state of flux – the element water – a new exhibit at the heart of the museum island – accessible via tourist boat or the half round Schloß-Charlottenhof-like terrace.

The geometry of the hovering Schloß (function: Residenz des Bundespräsidenten) pushes exactitude (an exclusively square exactitude) into new realms. The form is one of the building blocks of fractal geometry, a Menger sponge (3D Serpinski-carpet) – nine squares with missing centre. First iteration = urban scale, second iteration = courtyard scale, third iteration = window scale, etc.)

To complete the ensemble are a number of themes secondary to the principal Water Forum/Fractal Schloß subjects (der aktive Rand):

1. The Bauakakemie – essential for the overall composition – (a warm red cube) is to be re-constructed – simulated. Simulations are by definition not original, unique or singular. Thus if simulation produces an object of quality further incarnations are also possible. Where a further cubic volume is required to take up the building lines of the original Schloß-Apotheke – a second Bauakademie is proposed.

2. To the south-east corner of the Water Forum a thin glazed box assists the hovering square Presidential Fractal in reconstituting the long elevation of the original Schloß. This is an „automatisierte Büchereiwand“ – a public building (archive of immaterial Berlins) with reading rooms at water level. This transparent vertical storage system carries the Schlüter-Fassade in its original location.

3. One room of the historic Schloß (Alabastersaal) is rematerialised in exact detail and location. The original jewel-like room, a negative space, carved out between massive stone walls is now suspended free in space – under the Menger sponge – a fragment, a crystal, the official presidential entrance pavilion. (Less formal entry is via a security car ramp descending through the water surface.)

4. Active urban landscape – as Berlin once again connects to the network of waterways of the Brandenburg landscape – so this landscape dimension is introduced into the centre of the city via the Water Forum. It is a landscape of potential activities – peddle and tourist boats, performances on the Schinkel Terrace, the spectacle of representative politics not isolated in the Tiergarten but as the hub of the new Berlin.

Julia B. Bolles-Wilson + Peter Wilson 1993/ 2000

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