Berlin – Architecture, Streets and People

Thomas - Expert Guide
Thomas – Expert Guide, joining the coach in Potsdamer Platz

One day in Berlin is not enough – of course! I was there to visit the Bauhaus Archives, the most comprehensive representation of information about the mid 20th C design school. I also enjoyed a 3 hour coach tour with a certain Thomas who was the most informed and amusing guide I have ever met. He skilfully took us around or past every historic point, every breath-taking piece of modern architecture with an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything Berlin has to offer the coach-bound traveller. Due to lack of time we could only leave the coach twice and for just a few moments, so many of  the photos are compromised by having been taken through the coach window as the coach was moving.

Jewish Museum - Daniel Libeskind
Jewish Museum – Daniel Libeskind’s radical, zigzag design

Just one photograph hardly does justice to this complex building, light and shadows dance across the angled facades and jagged chasms and take your breath away.  Daniel Libeskind

Berlin Hauptbahnhof - Meinhard von Gerkan

Berlin Hauptbahnhof – Meinhard von Gerkan

Meinhard von Gerkan The station looks particularly marvellous at night, streaks of light gliding through and out of the enormous glazed tube of a roof.

Topographie Des Terrors - Ursula Wilms (Heinle, Wischer and Partner) and the landscape architect Professor Heinz W. Hallmann
Topographie Des Terrors – Ursula Wilms (Heinle, Wischer and Partner) and the landscape architect Professor Heinz W. Hallmann

The external structure of steel rods or shafts catch the light and cast shadows giving the whole structure a nebulous appearance, quite the antithesis of the stern buildings that preceded it under the Third Reich. Ursula Wilm

The New Art Gallery - Mies Van de Rohe
The New Art Gallery – Mies Van de Rohe
Deutsches Technikmuseum - Helge Pitz and Hoh
Deutsches Technikmuseum – Helge Pitz and Hoh
IBA Housing - Zaha Hadid
IBA Housing – Zaha Hadid
Berlin Shell Haus – 1932 – designed by German architect Emil Fahrenkamp. Noted for its striking wave-like façade, and for being one of the first steel-framed high-rise buildings in Berlin.

Lots more building projects underway.
Judging by the number of cranes on the skyline, there are many more building projects underway.
bicycle and shed
Bicycle, tarpaulin and timber shed
Fluorescent jacket
Fluorescent Jacket

At first sight this appears to be a man with no head! Actually he is bending his scarf-covered head forward sharply in order to better read his phone.

Daimler Chrysler  - Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Steps at Daimler Chrysler – Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

I was too close to be able to capture much of the facade but I love the steps. Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate


Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights – including the expert installer
Berliners 2
Two smart Berliners going about their business
Berlin woman
Hemispherical concrete bollards – what a lovely curve
Replica of Checkpoint Charlie, complete with actor/soldiers – watched over by Albert Einstein
An ingenious and space-saving bicycle rack, German bikes seem to be characterised by a curved crossbar making them look very decorative in pairs.
The Colour Pillar in the garden of  the Bauhaus Archive – Walter Gropius

Bauhaus Archive

Germany – Divided and Reunified


Drei Linden, or Checkpoint Bravo as it was also known, on the motorway between Berlin Tergel airport and the former East Germany. No doubt originally unpainted concrete, the current funfair colouring, red with blue windows belies its former grim purpose.


Part of the medieval fortified walls of Weimar, this tower is now a club for students.

Kasseturm club

This sign is made from Corten steel the lettering cut out by water-jet. Space below is left for chalking up the day’s events.

These two empty apartment blocks, in Weimar and Dessau respectively are run down, abandoned, no-one wants to live in them. It is a problem in both of these cities, their populations have diminished dramatically since re-unification, especially in Dessau where more than a third of the population have left, mostly those in their middle years.

Weimar social housing

Dessau social housing

There is still a marked difference between the shops and goods in former East Germany compared to the former West Germany. Weimar shopping streets are quiet, there are no crowds, the shops are not commercialised , there are few advertising boards, no neon signs,  just shopkeepers and shoppers quietly going about their business.


Weimar is an historic cultured town, hardly damaged during the war, whereas Dessau lost a great many buildings and so, much of its current architecture is of the Eastern Block brutalist model. There is a steady programme of transformation to create more desirable dwellings, adding balconies and colour to the flat grey facades and re-fitting the interiors.


The addition of a new lighting plan has transformed this vast grey arcade in one of the Brutalist East German buildings.

Modernised Weimar

One of the last remaining stretches of wall at Niederkichenerstrasse has been preserved and the cells on the east side in the basements of the SS and Gestapo headquarters, have been exposed. It is a chilling place.

Berlin Wall

The Topographie Des Terrors is an exhibition pavilion, documenting the history of the place. architect Ursula Wilms (Heinle, Wischer und Partner, Berlin) and the landscape architect Heinz W. Hallmann (Aachen) An extraordinary building where numerous horizontal bars both inside and outside filter and fracture light creating an ethereal quality.


I noticed this man determined to take his “selfie” against the  “Wall”, in some ways it seemed disrespectful but who am I to pass judgement, having the privilege of being free all my life.

Finally here is Checkpoint Charlie, a replica, the original wooden building is now preserved elsewhere but it was here, at this very point where the first East Berliners crossed legally to freedom in West Berlin into the US Sector at 10:45pm on 9th November 1989.

Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie copyright Adrian Purser