Temporary use of the Palace Precincts

relais Landschaftsarchitekten: In the course of its redevelopment as the ‘Humboldt Forum’, one of Berlin’s most prominent and significant urban locations is temporally transformed into a public open space. The landscape architecture deals with this transitional situation thematically, formally and materially. The design concept aims to create an open system, which can integrate the most diverse temporary uses as well as construction projects and archaeological excavations. A structural framework is created in the form of wooden boardwalks, which provide both access and spatial unity to the entire site. By means of this wooden framework, the design focuses our attention on the contextual past and present. The boardwalks become a means of exploring a site characterised by change, on which further developments such as the demolition of the Palace of the People, archaeological excavations, the erection of a temporary art gallery, the ‘Humboldt Box, the building site for a new underground station, cultural events and a multitude of other uses will take place. The sketched nature of the design lends it the flexibility and robustness required to respond to the diverse demands on its use.

The character of a building site is also communicated through the use of transitory materials such as the 2,5 m wide boardwalks made of untreated wood (European larch) and the area of rough grass in the western palace precincts. This part lies 30cm lower than the surrounding walkways, and reveals excavations of the palace foundations. These, along with the pedestal of the Kaiser Wilhelm National Memorial and the curtain walls of the ‘palace basin’ testify to the historical authenticity of the site. These historical artifices are revealed and interpreted in the design. In the case of the National Memorial, this is achieved through a flight of wooden sitting steps, which are stretched like a second skin over the archeological remains. The terrain within the ‘palace basin’ was tipped towards the river Spree and seeded with sport grass. The boardwalk broadens here into a spacious terrace and a promenade along the Spree.

This temporary activation of the palace precincts enables one of Berlin’s most historical locations to be used and experienced by the public. Special landscape flair is afforded by opening the area to the river Spree. By avoiding tall structures, an openness was achieved, enabling surprising visual links and relationships to arise between nearby buildings from very different epochs. Against this rich historical and cultural backdrop, the landscape design aims to reveal hidden aspects from the past, in order to interpret and communicate the historical development of the palace precincts.

Project: Temporary use of the Palace Precincts
Location: Berlin
Landscape architecture: relais Landschaftsarchitekten
Collaboration for the competition: Marcus Cordes
Client: Land Berlin/ DSK
Design and construction period: 2006-2009
Area: 47,000 m2
Fotos: Stefan Müller
Sketches: relais Landschaftsarchitekten

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