A PLACE OF ANSWERS
The project was part of a non-implemented competition entry for the Humboldt Forum in the reconstructed Berlin Castle. The idea was to critically question the revision of the history of Berlin and Germany in the 20th century, which had been attempted in the Humboldt Forum, by means of designing exterior spaces.
The historicizing new building is splendidly staged on a pavement of exquisite clinker bricks, designed specifically for the occasion and sourced from Brandenburg brickworks. Within this general theme, each of the four sides of the building displays its individual character – a "Humboldt Garden" to the Spree Canal, a "Place of Questions" to Lustgarten and Dom, an intimate, sunken riverbank area on the Spree.
On the "Place of Answers", instead of two parterres of the former Wilhelminia Palace Square, the paved surface is split. The Märkische sand emerges, in which lie the ruins of a medieval Dominican monastery. In this soil, a group of oak trees is planted, all the direct vegetative or generative offspring of famous oaks in Germany (‘Königseiche’, i.e. the king’s oak in Volkenroda in Thuringia, the millennial grave oak in Nöbdenitz in Thuringia, ‘Allee’ avenue in the Lewitz, etc.). This stock, which will one day grow into a forest, tells of the values shared by Germans regardless of history and politics.
The design, inspired by the romantic intellectual legacy, does not work with images, nor does it seek its fulfilment in the deciphering of meanings or analogies. Rather, it pursues the renunciation of the conventions that inundate present-day discourses.
This strategy has been developed for:
Location: Berlin, DE
Year: Competition 2012
Architecture-historian: Christoph Schläppi, Bern
Lansdscape architecture: Maurus Schifferli, Bern