Cuttingedge vision

Hilmer and Christoph Sattler (see Figure 8.46). Helmut Jahn won a similar competition for the Sony site but that was sponsored by the corporation. Giorgio Grassi was appointed architect for the strip of land on the east side of the site. He kept to the principles of the Hilmer-Sattler design.

The Hilmer-Sattler design was restrained and essentially a New Urbanist one. It sought to recreate the complex, tight patterns of the traditional European city. The height of buildings was restricted to 22 metres with setback roof structures rising to no more than 30 metres. It had to follow the rule that at least 20% of each new development had to be allocated to housing. The design followed an approach called 'critical reconstruction' in which the stand taken is that the identity of a city is established by its history and does not need to be reinvented simply because that identity is something from the past. It repudiates the ideology of Le Corbusier as represented in the post-war developments in West Berlin (e.g. the Interbau at the Hansaviertel) and in the East Berlin of the GDR where massive buildings were located as objects in space. Opposing critics see critical reconstruction as a romantic attempt at turning back the

Figure 8.46 The Hilmer and Sattler Berlin Senate competition-winning scheme. (a) Figure-ground study and (b) aerial view.

Figure 8.46 The Hilmer and Sattler Berlin Senate competition-winning scheme. (a) Figure-ground study and (b) aerial view.

clock. Economics overtook the debate. Critical reconstruction was not what the major corporations wanted. The last thing they wanted was to be discrete.

When the wall dividing East and West Berlins was demolished in 1989, the land parcels were made available for sale and were snapped up by major corporations at what were seen by many at well below market rates. Sony and Daimler Benz were the purchasers of the two significant parcels but other multi-national corporations hold land as well. There were 17 sites in all. They were attractive because the area is easily accessible - a number of subway and bus lines have their junction at Potsdamer Platz - and because of the Platz's past history. The Platz itself is on the periphery of the scheme and remains a traffic intersection. Perhaps it will become a place in itself when the development at Leipziger Platz and the Lenné-Dreieck site are completed.

The Berlin-oriented Hilmer-Sattler scheme gave way to a more global corporate one designed primarily by Renzo Piano and Christoph Kohlbecker. It resulted from a competition organized by Daimler Benz. The design includes high-rise corporate towers at both ends of the site but generally retains the build-to-the-property line requirements and height limits of the Hilmer-Sattler scheme. This new plan specified wide sidewalks, ground floor arcades and façades made of materials such as terracotta, limestone or clinker (reddish-brown bricks). At the same time much of the life generally associated with squares was internalized within the buildings.

Neue Potsdamer Strasse is a weak seam for the overall area and divides the site into two major parts with the Sony site, an island complex of eight buildings, to the north and the remainder of the site, the roughly pie-shaped 50-hectare part containing 19 buildings, to the south. This southern portion is an irregular grid of 10 streets, some new and some revived. At its centre now is the Marlene-Dietrich-Platz. Many of the corporations holding land organized their own design competitions within the general principles of the overall urban design but boosted by their own corporate interests. The result is a well-crafted set of prestigious buildings designed by internationally renowned architects. The Sony Center (2000) was designed by Helmut Jahn, the Hotel Grand Hyatt (1998) by Rafael Moneo, the Berlin Volksbank (1997) by Arata Isozaki and the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden (1997-8) -another example of internal, quasi-public space - by Richard Rogers amongst others. Renzo Piano designed six of the buildings himself (Figure 8.47).

The Sony Center (a 26,500-square metre site) consists of seven buildings with the interior Forum as its heart (see Figures 8.48 and 8.49). The Forum is an oblong plaza with a central fountain. It is covered by a tented, glass canopy supported on steel beams rather like the spokes on a bicycle wheel and surrounded by five buildings, all but one of which have concave façades encircling the Forum. The public space that was outside in both the Rogers and the Hilmer and Sattler schemes has become internalized and privatized (or, perhaps, private space has been made public). Shops and restaurants surround the Forum and the buildings include the Film Museum and the Esplanade residence (which consists of the breakfast room and the Emperors' room of the Esplanade Hotel which were moved 70 metres from their original location on air cushions). The upper floors of the buildings consist predominantly of offices and expensive apartments. On the interiors facing the internal court the surfaces are clad with mirrored glass. On the corner of the site, as a largely separate entity, is the 100-metre tall Sony Tower. Across the road from the Sony Tower is the 22-storey office and retail building, the Bürohochhaus am Potsdamer Platz,

1. Sony Center

2. Bürohochhaus

3. IMAX Cinema

4. Marlene-Dietrich-Platz

5. Debis Haus

6. Tiergarten Tunnel access

7. National Library

8. Potsdamer Platz Arkaden

9. Philharmonic Hall

10. Musical Theatre

Figure 8.47 The Potsdamer Platz precinct in 2002.

1. Sony Center

2. Bürohochhaus

3. IMAX Cinema

4. Marlene-Dietrich-Platz

5. Debis Haus

6. Tiergarten Tunnel access

7. National Library

8. Potsdamer Platz Arkaden

9. Philharmonic Hall

10. Musical Theatre

Figure 8.47 The Potsdamer Platz precinct in 2002.

designed by Hans Kolhoff. The two buildings form a high-rise entrance to Potsdamer Platz.

The Kohlhoff building steps down to a lower height away from the platz. Across Alte Potsdamer Strasse are the Weinhaus Huth and a complex of three office-commercial-residential buildings designed by Richard Rogers. The 3-storey Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, links them. Daimler City is a complex of buildings including an IMAX Theatre, the DaimlerChrysler Services Building, a Musical theatre, the Berliner Volksbank and the Neue Staatsbibliothek (National Library).

The district draws in 100,000 people daily and tourists flock there. It is a very different place to the conventional European square and represents a new type of increasingly common civic space - one controlled by private interests. While the buildings are clearly part of the global economy and architecture, considerable effort has been made to make them environmentally responsible. Roofs are grassed, rainwater is used to irrigate the landscaping and some grey water is recycled. The buildings have been designed to consume 50% less energy than conventional air-conditioned buildings.

Figure 8.49 A view south towards Marlene-Dietrich-Platz with the Arkaden in the foreground.

As a feat ofurban and architectural design, an extraordinary amount of coordinated work was accomplished in only 10 years. It is difficult in any urban design project to create the animated type of environment built piece-by-piece over a century or two, but the work of different architects gives a sense of variety to the Potsdamer Platz district. Is it, however, simply a twenty-first century Times Square, New York? (Rossi, 2000).

Major references

Balfour, Alan (1999). Octagon: the persistence of the ideal. In James Corner, ed., Recovering Landscape: Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture. New York: Princeton University Press, 87-100. Davey, Peter (1998). Potsdamer Platz: development in Berlin. Architectural Review 205 (1223): 31-4. James-Chakraborty, Kathleen (2000). German Architecture for a Mass Audience. London: Routledge. Ladd, Brian (1997). The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape. London: Chicago University Press. Scheer, Thorsten, Josef Paul Kleihues, Paul Kahlfeldt and Andrea Bärnreuther, eds. (2000). City of Architecture of the City: Berlin 1900-2000. Berlin: Nicolai.

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