Only a few construction projects in Germany are more controversial than the rebuilding of the city palace in Berlin. With this daring plan, the Dutch professor Frans Vogelaar manages to break open the jammed discussion.
One of the most controversial buildings of the moment is rising in the heart of Berlin: the rebuilding of the Berliner Stadtschloss. In this project on Unter den Linden comes the Humboldt Forum. Now that the discussion about the interpretation is in danger of getting stuck, the Dutch professor of Hybrid Space Frans Vogelaar opens the debate with a radical proposal: he wants the impressive Prussian palace to turn into a jungle.
Berliners have tumbled over each other for decades when it comes to the destination of the City Palace opposite the Berlin Cathedral. The castle was seriously damaged after the Second World War, but not destroyed. Nevertheless, the GDR government decided to blow up the beacon of Prussian power. For a long time it remained a bare plain, only suitable as a paradise site or parking space. Then the Palast der Republik, the innovative power center of GDR leader Erich Honecker, appeared. After the fall of the Wall, this palace was also demolished because it contained asbestos.
Since 2013, a modern replica of the old Stadtschloss has been under construction. This includes space for large collections of museums that are far away from the center, such as the Ethnological Museum, the Museum for Asian Art. Just about every interpretation of the new building that is due to open in 2019 is under attack.
The Dutch professor Vogelaar, who founded the Hybrid Space Lab together with architecture professor Elizabeth Sikiaridi, was invited to come and talk.
That invitation came in 2015 from politicians from the Greens party, says Vogelaar. “At the time it was unclear whether there was enough money to finance the facade, and people were looking for ways to get more greenery around the city palace.” “Moreover, it bears the name of explorer and explorer Alexander von Humboldt. Then we thought; why don’t we make a green layer over the baroque facade like Humboldt Jungle? ”
The professors developed two plans: the Humboldt Jungle, which gives the castle a green skin and the Humboldt Volcano, which must form a kind of public access from the square. “They immediately responded enthusiastically, but there was also criticism: how do you keep it green in the harsh Berlin winters?”
Vogelaar then came with a greenhouse on the roof for the tropical plants and a place for local plants outside. “A bit like Crystal Palace. This fits in with our other projects with urban gardening and farming. We also do this in China. But actually it is a very Dutch idea. ”
The professor is referring to the creation of a biotope in a building. “We Dutch are big in greenhouse construction and green technology. Consider what is happening at Wageningen University & Research. The Netherlands is at the forefront of this type of agile agricultural technology. With that you can score enormously in a country where innovations are being implemented more slowly. ”
But the plan that should give the famous Museum Island of Berlin a greener look will have a completely different effect, Vogelaar notes. “The Berliners have so buried themselves in this endless discussion. Der Tagesspiegel wrote recently; let those discussions make way for the jungle. ”That is exactly what the professor wants. “We don’t take a side, but want to open up the jammed debate and make it more pragmatic.”
The center of Berlin should also become greener, according to the creators of the plan. “Huge numbers of tourists are walking around here. There is a lot of stone here. With climate changes, it is not a superfluous luxury to integrate more green now that temperatures are rising and we are facing heavy rain showers. ”
It has not yet been decided whether Vogelaar’s plans can be implemented. That is why the Dutchman is happy with the publicity. “The more attention, the more realistic it becomes.” His goal is to realize it around 2035. A 1: 1 simulation will be set up in Hong Kong in a month. “It happens in Asia, where there is now a lot of attention for green in the city. You can convert plans there much faster than in Germany. ”