25 years after the fall of the Wall, many believe Berlin to be
a city of 3.5 million inhabitants
a symbol of division
made up of a centre and a periphery.
The inability to read Berlin is perhaps best exemplified by Vittorio Gregotti who has described it as an endless suburb. This inability to read the specifics of Berlin is perhaps a symptom of superficiality and/or muddle thinking, probably induced by the growing and increasingly untenable wave of smartness that envelops and suffocates contemporary life.
Urban features are not comparable to cars, telephones, watches or any of those everyday objects that harbour a trace of wistfulness for their lost simplicity. The rhetoric surrounding the smart city takes for granted that cities must be smart. But urban and architectural facts, we know, are the contrary of smart. They are really quite dumb (mute and stupid) - to a certain degree resembling those who create and develop them.
Berlin’s urban structure lays bare like nothing else the widespread erroneous thinking behind the triumphant rhetoric of the smart city. Berlin’s urban structure stands as compelling proof of the fact that if growing urban conglomerations are to be liveable, they have to make a proud stand in favour of pockets of silence and moments of technological stupidity, or inadequacy.
Romantic, multi-polar and without a clear urban plan, Berlin has neither centre nor periphery. As such it is a unique urban entity in the Western world. Indeed as urban planning goes, today Berlin is a conurbation that does not belong to the Western world even if, paradoxically, it is the result of a series of exceptional historical, political and economic circumstances that have had far reaching effects in the West.
Although causing a collective sense of anguish, the waves of demolition programmes over the 1930s through to the 1950s also gave rise to an unusual, unplanned urban landscape comprising vast swathes of...
Timber: the New Concrete
Alex de RijkeCar vs house designPeople need housing and they want cars in roughly equal amounts. Car design rests on the assumption that exponential increases in f...
Berlin Mapping - A multicultural urban archipelagoFollowing on from the monographic issue on Moscow, this edition’s CityMaps section dedicated to Berlin also presents the GIS-based maps in their new...
Patkau ArchitectsArchitects have long been drawn to mountains. To the efficient integration of material and form in weathered Alpine chalets. Or, as with German notion...