ov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The Italian architect Francesco Stella won a competition to rebuild Berlin’s palace, once home to Prussia’s rulers and the Kaiser, 60 years after it was blown to pieces by the East German authorities.
A jury of architects and government officials decided on Stella’s project after two days of meetings which Vittorio Lampugnani, the president of the jury, said included “some wrangling.” Stella’s concept meets parliament’s demands that three of the four facades should be reconstructed, yet includes a glass-covered courtyard behind the main entrance. It also falls within the budget of 552 million euros ($702 million).
“The challenge was to combine a modern, future-oriented contemporary use with the German parliament’s specifications on the reconstruction of the baroque fa ade,” German Construction Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee told reporters in Berlin today. “The design we’ve chosen solves this challenge convincingly.”
The German parliament last year agreed to provide 440 million euros of government funding toward the reconstruction. The state of Berlin is supplying 32 million euros and the remaining 80 million euros is to come from public donations.
Parliament’s decision to rebuild the baroque facade met opposition, including from architects on the jury. Lampugnani said today that he “would have been happier with freer criteria.” The British architect David Chipperfield, also on the jury, said he would have preferred “a modern building in old proportions.” In an interview with the Spiegel magazine in December last year, he warned that “simple copies can quickly become lifeless.”
Stella’s concept includes an underground boulevard that will connect the banks of the Spree River to the main hall of the palace. It also creates “generous open air steps and a promenade for the public” along the Spree, according to the architects.
To make space for reconstruction of the palace inhabited by the Prussian rulers and by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany until his abdication in 1918, authorities are dismantling the last remnants of the Communist-era bronze-glass, steel and concrete Palast der Republik, once home to East Germany’s powerless parliament.
Reconstruction of the Schloss is slated to start in 2010 and reach completion in 2013 or 2014. The new building, to be known as the “Humboldt Forum,” will house some of Berlin’s antiquities and art, parts of the Humboldt University and the city library as well as shops and restaurants.
At last now you finally see why he's called "the Great"!
Yesterday an Italian architectural firm, Francesco Stella, beat 39 other architects to win the contract to replace it with a re-creation of the 18th century Prussian palace, which was destroyed by second world war bombing. Communist authorities swept away all traces of the baroque building in the 1950s, replacing it with their own version of a people's palace - a glass-fronted eyesore that served as a parliament headquarters and a recreation centre.
In 1990, after the fall of the Berlin wall, the building was deemed unsafe and was closed. Almost 80,000 tonnes of asbestos were removed before it was painstakingly dismantled over three years.
As to your comment on rebuilding copies of old buildings - at the time I visited Goethehaus in Frankfurt I didn't know it was a complete replica of the original. I only found out when I climbed the top level of the house's staircase, tried to push the trapdoor to the roof, and found out it was only a painted imitation, not a real trapdoor at all!