20.000 qm X 5 Years


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20,000m/sq x 5 Years
20,000m/sq of Use Instead of 205,000 Tons of Sand

100% Use, 0% Architecture
In the period preceding the site’s redevelopment we propose using the basement floors for cultural programme. We believe that the decade-long debate of Palace vs. Castle has all too often focussed on image and symbol rather than programme. We believe that the Palace's basement levels provide an ideal setting to test and develop a programme of cultural events, which have the potential to create a unique and lively urban space in the heart of Berlin.

The rooms could be used to realise some of the first programmatic ideas of the Humboldtforum such as the staging of exhibitions, events or even the housing of a public library. In a recent talk, Claudia Lux, General Director of the Central and Regional Library Berlin and one of the designated users of the Humboldtforum explicitly welcomed the possibility of using the basement levels of the Palace of the Republic. The shortage of storage space has meant that large parts of the library's stocks have had to be stored externally, thus limiting the use of the library. There is also demand for other uses, such as the creation of an exhibition hall for contemporary art, as demonstrated by the White Cube project– the last project, which took place in the building at the end of 2005.

Radical Pragmatism
We propose to make maximum use of the existing structures and with an economy of means, add only that which is absolutely unavoidable. At the same time we see the partial deconstruction as a chance to rethink what exists and, to some extent, reinvent it. We are concerned with the integration of the past in the future of the place in a way that creates new possibilities and allows for the realisation of new ideas.

Our proposal involves a basic structure that is composed entirely of existing elements and is based on the selective removal of building components. The only new elements that our proposal would require is the finishing, such as the façade.

The proposal includes

Access and Views
The site can be accessed from the public path along the embankment of the river Spree as well as via the existing, now cleared, truck ramp of the Palace. Both the rooms and the courtyard offer fantastic views of the Spree; the location of the floor some 1.5 metres below the water level creates an intimate and sheltered urban space which visitors will enjoy spending time in.

A bright neon ring will be visible by night (visible even from Unter den Linden), will mark the outline of the subterranean building. The newly developed courtyard and the larger building will be visible from the Schlossplatz as well as from other side of the Spree.

Concept: Urban Catalyst, Philipp Oswalt with Florian Kessel and Matthäus Wirth. Collaborators: Philipp Stalbohm, Ariane Wiegner
Structural Engineering: ifb frohloff staffa kühl ecker, Berlin: Henning Ecker, Michael Staffa