Workshop in Berlin


Optimizing the performance of the Academy of Arts, the Hansa Library, and the shopping-centre in the Hansaviertel

 The Hansaviertel and its contemporary, the Stalinallee, have recently been accepted onto the tentative list of Berlin, which is the first step to apply for the UNESCO World Heritage status. If admitted to the international selection process, this application certainly will address the cultural criteria II, - IV and – VI, as formulated by the UNESCO. The cultural criteria (ii), (iv) and (vi) are, that it “exhibit(s) an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design“; that it is “an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history“; and that it is “directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance“.[1]

fig. 1 - Europe in a clear night - Berlin is in this image located in the very centre

fig. 2 - Berlin at night - the Academy of Arts is in this image located in the very centre

 The idea to work on the culturally so important Hansaviertel and to rework one of its key-buildings here, the Academy of Arts, was developed in talks with Winfried Brenne and Franz Jaschke, who at the time were about to finish the first phase of the conservation campaign of the studio and the administration building in the Academy of Arts complex. Some of the principal problems of this outstanding work of Werner Düttmann were and in part still are facing are problems of performance, of building physics, of comfort, and of energy efficiency.[2]

 This project developed by Winfried Brenne and Franz Jaschke is exemplary for combining a great respect towards the highly sensitive monument and an extremely well formulated proposal to enhance the building physics, the comfort, and the energy efficiency contemporaneously.

 It is being planned to focus on the exhibition spaces in the Academy of Arts in a second conservation campaign, which gave us the occasion to select it as our first object to investigate.

fig. 3a - Berlin - Stalinallee - 1952              fig. 3b - Berlin - Hansaviertel - 1957

 As second object we selected the other architectural masterpiece by Werner Düttmann in the Hansaviertel, the Hansa Library. When talking to Carola Janowski, head librarian of the Hansa Library and true custodian of its architectural qualities, the problems became obvious soon. They are principally problems of buildings physics, such as humidity, and of its – compared to today’s standards – low energy efficiency. Whereas the first problem threatens to cause serious deteriorations of the building’s substance, the second problem might even lead to the closure of the library.

 Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper was the one, who suggested to investigate the shopping centre in the Hansaviertel, originally designed by Ernst Zinsser and Hansrudolf Plarre, as our third object. Its problems are partly performance problems, and more specifically of comfort and energy efficiency, but its primary problem is the incapacity and / or unwillingness of the various owners to jointly agree on the necessary measures of maintenance and repair.

 We have developed an Intensive Programme on these grounds. This website intends to give the interested reader a first idea of the work we - about 60 students, and 15 professors from architectural programmes from the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the Eesti Kunstiakadeemia in Tallinn, the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, Faculty of Architecture, the department for Building Environment Science Technology, Politecnico di Milano and from the Fachhochschule Frankfurt am Main, Studiengang Architektur - have done over the span of the winter-term 2012/2013 and the spring-term 2013.

In addition to that, a brochure intends to allocate the workshop in a broader context. Beginning with two papers, mine being followed by my colleague Hans Jürgen Schmitz’ paper, it intends to introduce the Intensive Programme’s themes, questions and approaches. In the second part, Barbara van der Wee’s paper discusses the theme of performance with a special focus on the planned conservation of the library by Henry van de Velde, which we had the chance to visit during our pre-workshop-meeting in November 2012. This will be followed by the students’ pre-workshop preparations, and specifically their research for informative references in the countries the participants are coming from. The third part starts with four papers. To begin with, Bernhard Furrer delineates the close relationship between the post-war architecture and the pre-war Modern Movement, and Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper contextualizes the three objects of our investigations. Then Winfried Brenne, Franz Jaschke  and Anne Miersch introduce us to the first phase of the conservation campaign of the Academy of Arts and Andres Gorini visualizes the complicated history of the shopping centre. These papers will be followed by the concepts and strategies developed by the students on these grounds for the Academy of Arts, the Hansa Library and the shopping centre. In conclusion, our guest critics Monika Markgraf and Franz Graf re-open the horizon of the workshop, discussing concepts and strategies for a series of analogous cases, reaching from the Kanzler-Bungalow in Bonn to the mega-structure of the Lignon satellite precinct in Geneva. The very last pages of this brochure are given to a sequence of images by Stefan Heßling to characterize the workshop as such.

 With the website and the brochure we would like to present and promote this work moving between the requests of preservation and challenges of change. We are looking forward to getting to know your view.

[1] Cfr. - selection criteria.

[2] In addition to that, it had become a necessity to improve or replace the infrastructure, in particular the electrical infrastructure, and to respond to the new fire regulation standards.