Kühn Malvezzi architects
Berlin 2005

‘Castle desires’ are not equivalent to ‘Castle needs’. The planned Humboldt-Mall within a Hohenzollern coat has evidently not managed to get off the ground. The structural shell of the Palace of the Republic as a ruin or as a new building mass equally failed to provide an appropriate vision. In the duel between Palace and Castle, the question of content has been lost.

As the political establishment is yearning to take symbolic repossession of the site, architecture is expected to perform as an off-the-shelf ready made: following the concept of ex-chancellor Kohl’s blown up sculptural replica by Käthe Kollwitz, which was situated in Schinkel’s historic Guard House, Castle and Palace are used to serve deliberate agendas. The end of this political game is an essential precondition for the beginning of a new content-focused debate.

After the demolition of the Palace, the illusion of a tabula rasa will in fact lead to a doubling of the weight. Its foundation will remain in place, filled with building mass in order to provide a structural counter-weight to the nearby cathedral. The resulting slightly raised and grassed-over platform could be considered as a Lastgarten (Garden of Weights).

The new configuration of Lastgarten, cathedral and historic pleasure garden will trigger a new discussion of the future content of the remaining quadrant. Marked with a formal boundary it will shift imagination away from the historic footprint of the castle. A new public discussion will focus on its programmatic possibilities: Can we envisage a cultural venue as a contemporary experiment beyond political representation?


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