The old and new centre of the western part of Berlin is Breitscheidplatz, formerly Auguste-Viktoria-Platz. Here stands the memorial church built by Kaiser Wilhelm II in memory of his grandfather. It was the central point of the Romanisches Forum, which was completed by the two other Romanesque buildings, one opposite the main portal and the other opposite the choir. The second Romanesque building, on whose site the Europa-Center stands today, housed the Romanisches Cafe. After the First World War, "everyone between Reykjavik and Tahiti who had any connection at all with the muses, professionally or as an amateur, met" in this "waiting-room for genius". The architect of this forum, Koniglicher Baurat Franz Heinrich Schwechten (1841 - 1924) was one of the most productive, successful and controversial architects of the turn of the century. His principal field of activity was Berlin. Schwechten came on to the 1870s Berlin architectural scene, enthusiastically celebrated, when he planned and built the Anhalter Bahnhof. The "Anhalter" was to be the structural and design model for numerous stations in major cities. Schwechten met with vehement disapproval for the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirche, built with Wilhelm II in the 90s. From then on, both strands, innovative functional building and historic prestige architecture, ran through Schwechten's work. His oeuvre thus became a point of artistic intersection between Historicism and Modernism. The Anhalter Bahnhof, the AEG factories, the Beuthstrasse industrial building or Haus Potsdam - all in Berlin - were exemplary in architectural terms in their ground-plan development, spatial disposition and in the implementation of functional processes. This quality is merely latent in the imperial building fantasies, as the architectural structure is forced into the background by pompous trappings. When one considers the fate of Schwechten's buildings it is clear that only a few of them have survived unscathed. The loss of building stock in Berlin is particularly great. Apart from losses in the war, significant buildings have fallen victim to recent refurbishment concepts.
Edition Axel Menges
Other books by this author See all titles
This book can be found in...
The prices displayed are for website purchases only, and may differ to the prices in Waterstones shops.