03
Jan
14

Photograph of Berlin in motion, without a camera

I still have to decide whether to pay up for new uploading space – hefty fee… – or cancel some photos already published. In the meantime I will keep on writing. Things that are changing at present in Berlin. As usual. I’ll picture them without a camera.

City West, Charlottenburg

At Breitscheidtplatz there is a lot going on. Bikini Berlin is being spruced up – gone are the garish souvenir shops, but there are still some opposite side of the street to counterbalance the imminent glamour. Zoo Palast is back and looking very good indeed, we swing in between ZooBar and ZooLoge and we’re never tired of it. And now the worrying bit. A building has disappeared across the newly built Waldorf – what was it by the way? – and the Zwillingsturm will fill the gap by 2016 – a hotel, in case you may wonder.

Europa Center is still up and running, some stores have changed hands though. The fountain/hole opposite Europa Center is still there but rumor has it that it might be filled. A Curry36 can be found opposite the Bahnhof Zoo entrance – had it always stood there? Beate Uhse is still up and running but god knows until when – maybe worth a visit before it dissolves in thin air. The Amerika Haus is now hosting the c/o photo gallery. Here is something I regret, never to have visited the previous c/o, on Oranienburger Strasse, in the big Postfuerhramt  building.

Steinplatz, yet another hotel. But being honest I had never noticed the mighty building on the corner with Hardenbergerstrasse so maybe it’s only when buildings are renovated that we really notice them?

KuDamm, yet another hotel, but this time with reason. Cumberland House went back to its original destination, apartments and hotel, and grand Café…We never had noticed it before, as it was still a Finanzamt building. Its sheer size is so overwhelming that somehow it still goes unnoticed even nowadays. The Café Grosz’s Historicismus style is incredibly massive, its Mitteleuropean flavour recalls bits of Vienna and Triest. It’s a place for spending time, talking and eating and reading and observing. Welcome back.

Next to Cumberland House an angular building is shaping up as an Audi showroom, we’ll see more of it in time for the Berlinale. It does not seem particularly innovative, or with staying power, but this is the fate of the KuDamm. To mix the eternally graceful or powerful – Zoo Palast, Bikini House, KaDeWe – with the mainstream, “trendy”…or even the ugly.

It’s been around for a few months already, but the Apple store in the massive UFA Film-Bühne Wien cinema building  on KuDamm still hurts. The gray Neo-classical building had been empty for a while, and its fate was to become – obviously – a retail destination. Still the Cupertinist store – once a mighty foyer – feels so poor. The tablet is on the table. Alas.

The pain is not over. Hugo Boss has now replaced the once whimsical entrance of Hotel am Zoo , with its sloped glass canopy defying logic. True, the Boss glass boxes are probably the most stylish among the ones lining the KuDamm. But I always wondered what kind of encounters would have taken place behind the red velvet curtains of its tacky foyer. Too late. The hotel has been renovated, the reception probably moved up and the ambiguity should be also gone, now that “we’re on Facebook!”.

Barbarossa Kiez, Schoeneberg

Tomorrow night we’ll be back, I am curious to spot the difference vs the last impression I got last November, when, for the first time, I could glimpse the sunset from Barbarossastrasse across Eisenacherstrasse. Gone is the big housing estate (“the countless ringbells building” called it a friend of us). Wonder if the sky is still visible or if a new shadow is now cast.

Washington Platz, Mitte

We briefly glanced at it through taxi windows on an early morning. But it seems that more and more boxy buildings have appeared since last Summer? More hotels…what else?

Leopold Platz, Wedding

A neo-bauhaus 1960s library on stilts – quite nice I must admit – is now about to be renovated. Let’s hope the area will retain its community destination. Nearby a 1970s faded brown department store box still bearing the trace of its has-been C&A livety, yet another Fitness First building stares at the highstreet below, its diamond shaped glass windows like raised eyebrows. This one is a “Women” one. We wonder if the raison-d’etre of a female-only fitness club in an area full of Turkish stores is scarf-related?

Leipziger Strasse, Mitte

There was a big hole, more than 10 meters deep. And now you wouldn’t tell there had ever been one. A new shopping center has gone up. Yes sir. A new one.

Viktoria Kiez, Kreuzberg

We had spent some days in the former Schultheiss brewery newly built apartments back in 2007. We went to check out if the project had taken off or was still on hold. Well, quite a lot has been built on the site. Some apartments blend in within the brick and iron brewery structure. Others feel too uniform and anonymous, like an oversized Siedlung. Bruno Taut would not be happy. Too tall, too white, too repetitive. Thanks god there are still brick buildings.

Tegel

A December copy of “Berlin Nord” reports that the Hertie dept store inaugurated with big fanfare in 2007 – and closed less than two years later – is still empty, in spite of its helicopter opening ceremony. Why not recycling the existing? By the way, also the Hauptstrasse Hertie looks still empty and lonely.

Tempelhof

A lot has been written on the new mega architect competition for a giant library on Tempelhof. Uhm…

Potsdam

It was only by chance, that we spotted the newly built Landtag just days after its inauguration. Once again we were surprised. The last time we had been around here we entered a red Infobox with posters explaining plans and budget details. What should I say…we were happy of the result. The sunset blesses Potsdam in the most flattering way, and seeing now this New-Neoclassical building with its pastel colours and gilded crest feels so human. It does not really matter that it is not the original one. The overall skyline of Potsdam is somewhat restored to its roots, Nikolaikirche and the lot. Now only the Mercure Hotel stays in the way, and obviously we now long for its annihilation. Still we wonder why where we against the Palast der Republik destruction – and the Schloss reconstruction – and we love the same exercise in its Potsdam version? We still haven’t understood this. Maybe because der alte Fritz was known for creating Prussian copy-cats in architecture and not being ashamed of it? Or because the Palast der Republik looked out of place just like a totalitarian version of Beaubourg?

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