Sunday, 6 December 2009

Speicherstadt, Hamburg

On a recent trip to Hamburg the daylight was just too poor for taking photographs, so instead I took just a few night images, mainly around the Speicherstadt area. Speicherstadt, which translates literally into English as City of Warehouses, is a region of neo-Gothic red brick warehouses, built on timber piles, with direct access onto the canals. The warehouses, built in the late 19th century, were part of the free port of Hamburg and used for goods that arrived here from all over the world, including carpets, coffee and spices.

Now, many of the buildings are still warehouses, but also many museums can be found here, including the Hamburg Dungeon, Miniatur Wunderland and the Speicherstadt Museum.

more images from Hamburg can be viewed on

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Hundertwasser School in Lutherstadt Wittenberg

The original school building of the Luther Melanchthon Gymnasium was a rather typical East German style plattenbau, the Erfurt II type, which was commonly used for school buildings throughout the DDR.

In the early 1990's an art project at the school looked at how the appearance of the building could be improved and made more original. The students looked at the work of Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who was invited to be involved with the project. The renovated building was completed in 1999. Keeping with his belief that architects should put their egos aside and work to bring out the vision of their clients, he worked with the school organisation and the students, providing his services free of charge.

Below - the original building has obviously been heightened in places, enabling the characteristic lack of straight lines which are essential to Hundertwasser's work.

Below is the main entrance at the front of the school, with Hundertwasser's trademark tile columns supporting the canopy.

The tower at front left of the building with added balconies. Note the variety of window styles, generally no two are identical, either varying in size or surrounding decoration.

Trees growing within and out of buildings are a typical feature of Hundertwasser's work. Trees were considered to be tenants of buildings and were part of his work to bring nature closer to the building and those living within. The building also has a green roof.

The Erfurt II type building was typically two seperate blocks linked by lower height blocks. Below, the former rigid façade has been altered with typical Hundertwasser features.

See also photos:
Hundertwasser School in Lutherstadt Wittenberg I
Hundertwasser School in Lutherstadt Wittenberg II

Photos of other work by Hundertwasser can be viewed on

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Bunker on Albrechtstrasse, Berlin

Reinhardtstrasse in central Berlin seems a typically ordinary Berlin street, a mixture of building types and uses, the modern architecture of the Spree Eck building at one end and the Friedrichstadt Palast facing down the street from Friedrichstrasse at the far end. What stands out most of all is the large concrete block building on the corner of Albrechtstrasse, a massive square symmetrical building with a height of around 18 metres. What looks even more unusual is the modern looking penthouse built onto the roof, complete with roof garden, which only very slightly softens the hard appearance of the concrete façade.

There are a small number of World War II bunkers remaining in Berlin, most are left because they are simply too difficult to remove. In the case of the Reinhardtstrasse bunker the close proximity of nearby buildings would make removal impossible without causing damage to neighbouring property.

This bunker was completed in 1943 to a design by Karl Bonatz and was built for the Deutsche Reichsbahn, the German state railway. Its purpose was to provide shelter for train passengers using the nearby Friedrichstrasse station, but it could also be used by local residents and theatre goers, providing shelter for around 3000 people seated, with 48 beds available.

The bunker has 5 floors and originally had about 120 rooms. Double doors are located centrally on each side of the building connected to a staircase, which enabled large numbers of people to enter the building at the same time. The outer walls are constructed of 2 metre thick re-inforced concrete, with the roof being 3 metre thick.

In May 1945 the bunker was occupied by the Red Army who later used it as a war prison. Since then it has had various uses, including as a warehouse and as a hardcore techno club hosting SM and fetish parties renowned throughout Germany.

In 2003 Christian Boros and wife Karen Lohmann purchased the property to house their contemporary art collection. The conversion was carried out by Jens Casper of Realarchitektur, Berlin. The outside of the bunker was cleared of later adaptations but signs of war damage were left (see image below with damage to slit window opening). Alterations were made inside, making the original 120 rooms into 80, providing about 3000 square metres of exhibition space, with the penthouse added onto the roof area to provide a modern and open plan living area.

The collection opened in 2007 and can be viewed by appointment only – bookings can be made through the Sammlung-Boros website.

see also photo Bunker On Albrechtstrasse / Reinhardtstrasse (Boros Art Collection), Berlin, Germany

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Modernist Housing Estates in Berlin part 2 - Gartenstadt Falkenberg

Wandering around the Gartenstadt Falkenberg it is clearly evident why its nickname is Tuschkastensiedlung (paintbox estate). The colour of the façades are complimented by the use of contrasting colours of windows, shutters, patios and wooden balconies, all on the summer day of my visit complimented by the beautifully laid out and colourful gardens.

Falkenberg is the oldest of the six Gardenstadt (garden city settlements, modelled on the English garden cities), designed by Bruno Taut and constructed between 1913 - 1916. The first construction phase was the cul-de-sac Akazienhof. Below one of the blocks on this street.

The second phase was the street Gartenstadtweg, which includes 12 groups of houses, each with individual colour schemes. The sloping street is well landscaped, with terraces and well laid out gardens. The apartment blocks all have gardens, originally intended for the occupants to grow their own produce. Below are two of the rows of terraced houses on the street.

Colourful entranceway to one of the blocks on Gartenstadtweg.

More images of Berlins Modernist Housing Estates can be viewed here Berlin Modernist Housing Estates

Photo Gartenstadt Falkenberg, Berlin, Germany

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Neuer Garten, Potsdam

Potsdam is a short train journey from central Berlin and a recommended highlight for visitors to the city. Neuer Garten is part of the UNESCO listing for Potsdam Palaces and Gardens, which also includes Sanssouci Park, Babelsberg and Glienicke.

The park is a 102.5 ha site bordering onto the Jungfernsee and Heiliger See to the north west of the city. It was originally laid out between 1787 and 1791 for Friedrich Wilhelm II, 4th King of Prussia, with landscaping by Johann August Eyserbeck. The current layout was created in 1816 by Peter Joseph Lenne.

Below is the southern edge of the park with the Heiliger See.

The park grounds contain many buildings - palaces, houses and oddities. The Marble Palace was built between 1787-1791, by Carl von Gontard and Carl Gotthard Langhans, for Friedrich Wilhelm II's summer residence. Friedrich Wilhelm died a premature death here in 1797 caused by his lavish lifestyle - he was known to his people as Der dicke Lüderjahn (The fat good for nothing).

The Orangery, close to the Marble Palace

The Grünes Haus at the north of the Heiliger See, which I believe was a gardeners house.

Probably the best known building on the site is Schloss Cecilienhof, designed by Paul Schultze-Naumberg in the style of an oversized English country manor. It was built between 1913-1917 on instruction by Kaiser Wilhelm II for his son Crown Prince Wilhelm and his wife Duchess Cecilie. This was the last of the Hohenzollern palaces and remained the family home after the crown was lost - Wilhelm II and Crown Prince Wilhelm went into exile in Holland at the end of the first world war, Cecilie remained at Cecilienhof until February 1945 when she left to escape the approaching Red Army.

Cecilienhof is best known in history for being the site of the Potsdam Conference, from July 17th to August 2 1945. The palace is now a hotel and museum.

My favourite building on the site though, would have to be the Gothic Library situated on the southern end of the Heiliger See, a perfect location with beautiful views over the lake. The library was built in the 18th century to house Wilhelm II's collection of books.

More photos can be seen here.

Schlosskueche, Neuer Garten, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany
Gothic Library, Neuer Garten, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany
Dutch Houses, Neuer Garten, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany
Orangerie, Neuer Garten, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany
Gruenes Haus, Neuer Garten, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany
Schloss Cecilienhof, Neuer Garten, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Modernist Housing Estates in Berlin - Großsiedlung

Berlin has six modernist housing estates that were listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2008. The estates were built between 1913 and 1934 and are representative of the progressive attitude towards social housing in Berlin during those years, which aimed to provide a green and healthier living space for people on low incomes.

The estate at Großsiedlung Siemensstadt was built between 1929 and 1934 to provide homes for the workers at the nearby Siemens electrical factory. The architects were Hans Scharoun, Walter Gropius, Hugo Haring, Otto Bartning, Fred Forbat and Paul Rudolf Henning – part of a group called Der Ring, which later evolved into Bauhaus. The architects were each allocated a different area of the estate to design, which resulted in the varied appearence of the buildings.

After 1919, according to the Weimar constitution, all new apartments built in Berlin had to include a separate bathroom and kitchen, as well as a balcony. The Großsiedlung Siemensstadt estate features particularly attractive circular balconies, this block designed by Häring.

The block designed by Scharoun, with its south facing circular balconies.

Green spaces were provided between buildings and original trees were conserved to provide a pleasant living environment - compare to the overcrowded tenement blocks common at the time. This is the block called Langer Jammer designed by Otto Bartning.

Volkspark Jungfernheide to the north of the estate provided an extension to the green spaces. Still a pleasent and popular area, it has a wildlife enclosure, play areas and an open air swimming pool.


for photographs see also:
Grosssiedlung Siemensstadt, Berlin, Germany I
Grosssiedlung Siemensstadt, Berlin, Germany II