International competitions



Competition brief continued

The wall has two sides of completely different character. It is set at right angles to the Berlin Wall. Its principal surfaces are directed toward the East as well as the West. The wall is freestanding and defines space while being an object at the same time. It is an intentional contrast to the Berlin Wall.

The two sides also carry two different meanings. One side is stone: cold and unfriendly. The other side is covered with green and full of life. One side is a place of memory and contemplation, the Memorial Court. This place can only be reached through two entrances in the wall. The surface of the court is also completely stone, travertine, as are the walls. The planting is dark and consists of cypress, pine, linden, hawthorn and the like. Through the courtyard runs a slit, the inside of which is made of black marble. The water is still. The channel ends in a niche of black marble which is surrounded by dark hedges of cypress. The niche contains the names of places of SS crimes and concentration camps. Nothing else is found in this court. A bronze fence illustrating a concentration camp enclosure closes off the north side.

Small memorial rooms are contained within the wall. Every country that was occupied by Germany during the war receives an area to construct a memorial chapel. Each country is asked to have its own room designed by its own architects and artists. Each country will ask an artist to produce a bronze relief that would be included in the wall of the Memorial Court above the chapel. The memorial rooms are clustered. Each country has the same amount of space. The path to the rooms leads through an arcade in the wall along the park as a contrast to the atmosphere of the Memorial Court. The memorial rooms, however, are directed towards the court. Daylight reaches the rooms through special high openings which are directed toward the east and west. The path begins and ends in the Court of Hope. This court is in complete contrast to the Memorial Court. It is completely green.

The walls are covered with plants, and the space is covered by a green canopy. Water flows out of a deep crack in the wall. There is again a channel of water, but here the water runs in a light-colored trough to the lake. From this court, one has a series of distinctly different, views. One direction looks onto architecture, onto an architectural landscape and finally onto a peaceful garden. This place contains no signs connected with the NS time. The Court of Hope could equally well be called the Court of Peace. The green walls are covered with climbing, flowering plants.

The scheme makes the original site of the Prince Albrecht Palais visible. The outline of the foundation is traced in the Memorial Court through marble inserts in the travertine floor, marble set in the grounds of the park, and through walls close underneath the surface of the lake. From the top of the wall, one gets an overview of the foundation walls. A memorial plaque, which will inform the public about the historical context of the place will be located in the base of the ‘Open Hand.’ An elevator and ramp permit access to the top of the wall.

The axis of Koch Strasse is continued as a lake. The line of vision from the other side of the lake is so designed that one cannot see the walkway in front of the platforms which appear to be standing in the water. The platforms have fountains on the south side so that pedestrians will occasionally find themselves on a bridge between two waterfalls.

An island in the lake is visually connected with the axis from the Anhalter Bahnhof and takes its theme from Arnold Böcklin’s lugubrious Toteninsel (Isle of the Dead). A cafe in the park looks to this island.

The platforms, that contain parking, are a replica of the base of the Martin Gropius building. Atop them are groves of trees that sustain the theme as a park but match the mass of the Gropius building.

An entrance place is formed in front of the Martin Gropius building and a children’s play area is at the northwest corner of the site next to the Gropius building. The design includes a sculpture of the Open Hand by Le Corbusier, a gesture of peace. It sits at the end of an axis, identifiable from a great distance. The sculptor Gerald DiGiusto designed the other hand, appropriate to the seriousness of the place.

Toteninsel, Arnold Böcklin, 1883

Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin Public Domain