10 Impressive Pieces of Architecture in Berlin

Quartier de Schützenstrasse (Berlin)

Berlin has been shaped by decades of alternative ideas and this has resulted in a wide mix of architecture: from 1920s modernism and avant garde to cold war brutalism and the postmodernist tendencies of Richard Rogers and Aldo Rossi. During the Second World War the city was decimated by bombing and this left a blank canvas to be filled with a sea of twentieth century thinking. The iconic Berlin Wall, dividing the city physically and ideologically, also left its mark and impacted on the way that architecture developed in different parts of the city.

This is still visible today and any visit to Berlin must take in to account an awareness of this variety of styles of building and the way this has impacted on the way people live. The city’s architecture is an historic document in its own right and can be read as such. Post modernism has certainly done its bit to try and push the city, as a whole, into the 21st century. However, it is important for Berliners that they do not lose a sense of their past, visible through their architecture and particularly through memorial buildings, such as those by Peter Eisenman and Daniel Libeskind.

This article explores ten of the most remarkable buildings in Berlin.

DZ Bank – by Gehry Partners LLP


Officially known as the Pariser Platz 3, this development is mixed and contains the headquarters of the DZ Bank as well as 39 residential apartments. The building looks out towards the iconic Brandenburg Gate and has been designed to suit its surroundings, albeit being really quite remarkable on the inside. The facade is of a series of jagged openings, and deeply recessed windows, meaning that the building actually seems fairly unremarkable and fits with the urban setting, not taking any emphasis away from the landmark of the Brandenburg gate.

It is clad in a buff colored limestone, to match the Brandenburg gate itself, and in proportion with other buildings in the area. When you enter you meet an atrium, with a curved glass ceiling and floor. This is where the awe begins! Glass and wood are used to best effect in this building and the absolute most is made of attracting natural light into the building. Each room is unique and the conference rooms are particularly inspiring spaces.

Academy of the Jewish Museum – by Daniel Libeskind


Libeskind’s building links the other structures of the museum and houses the library, archive and education center, as well as providing additional office and support space. It is a one story building and based on a slightly sloping cuboid shape. Lettering of the Hebrew language is central to the design and it is made to feel contemplative and show the importance of learning in Jewish cultural life. Libeskind called the design ‘in between spaces’, which makes sense given the number of slanted cuboid shapes within the space overall. It is a remarkable building that has attracted many more people to visit.

Neues Museum – by David Chipperfield Architects


The original Neues Museum, originally designed by Friedrich August Stüler and built between 1841 and 1859, was sadly destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. Recently, it was restored to its pre-1939 glory. It houses artifacts from Ancient Egypt.

Museum of Architectural Drawing – by Sergei Tchoban & Sergei Kuznetsov


Any building that is going to inspire architects is going to have to be iconic! Well Russian duo Tchoban and Kuznetsov did not disappoint with their iconic design here. In an age of digital, the art of hand drawing is dying but architects still try to keep it up and it is increasingly appreciated as an art form. This museum is dedicated to the subject. It resembles a stack of yellow concrete cubes. The design is holistic and everything was custom made for the building, even the door handles. The interior is dominated by glass and wood.

Olympic Velodrome and Swimming pool – by Dominique Perrault


This project was all about Olympic spirit and bringing the two sides of Berlin – East and West – together in a single swoop. It was part of the bid for the 2000 Olympics, which of course eventually went to Sydney. However, the ambition was well sought and thought of and it was seen as part of a process of healing for the city, bringing together two communities that had been separate for so long and joining the ‘border’ that still remained in some people’s heads.

The Dutch Embassy in Berlin – by OMA


Located in the old middle part of the city, original regulations suggested that new builds in that area should mirror the 19th century designs of other buildings. However, the Dutch wanted something different; something that would mirror their sense of openness and unity. The design, of a solitary cube set on a podium, eventually went through. The building is 8 stories high and involves lots of glass and aluminum.

The Norwegian Embassy in Berlin – by Snøhetta


This embassy building is large and solid, meant to represent the solidity of the relationship between Norway and Germany It is also clear cut, with lots of clean lines, again representing the clarity of diplomacy. Similar to many Norwegian buildings, there are mirrors in the design of the ‘vertical’ elements of the Norwegian landscape. The corner pulls forward for example, like the top of a mountain. The building is located adjacent to the Swedish and Icelandic embassies, representing the close ties between these countries. Norwegian granite is used in some of the design, again showing off the natural strength of the country.

The Field of Stelae Holocaust Memorial – by Eisenman Architects


This highly moving design is located just meters from the Brandenburg Gate, on the edge of Tiergarten. The design features 2,752 concrete slabs (stelae) arranged in a grid pattern. The ground is uneven, which gives the impression of a slowly sloping field. There is no defined entrance and visitors can move as they wish through the structure. It was opened in 2005.

Daimler Chrysler – by Richard Rogers Partnership


This construction consists of three buildings, two for offices and one for a mix of commercial and residential use. One of the main objectives of the design was to create a series of low-energy buildings that are also very comfortable. The staircases in the buildings are particularly iconic, rising and falling with awe inspiring ease. There is also a lot of light and fresh air thanks to the amount of glass and number of windows. Computer simulations were conducted in order to optimize the thermal conditions and air flow in the atrium. There are splendid views out on to a park.

Quartier Schützenstrasse – by Aldo Rossi

Quartier de Schützenstrasse (Berlin)

This building might look like a classical structure but it is also highly modern in design. It looks like there are a few big plots but actually there are many individual plots set within a larger structure. The plan for the buildings is inspired by 19th century Berlin and formed around 2 interior central courtyards, the source of much of the light. The buildings are intensely colorful, with blues, greens and reds sitting alongside more pastel shades and earthy tones. It was Rossi’s final building, completed in 1997.


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