My recent stay in Berlin, especially the frequent cycling, has brought me past some impressive housing projects in the city’s West. Unfortunately, the two more internationally renowned projects I was planning to see were not among them. They’re saved for next time.
We have been cycling plenty while in Germany from mid-June until mid-July. A lot of it has been through Berlin, allowing me to see parts of my hometown that I hadn’t seen before (e.g. here). The high point of our biking, however, was a three-day tour from Berlin to my parents’ home in northwestern Brandenburg. Herewith some impressions from the trip.
This “forest settlement” in Berlin’s Zehlendorf district is an eerie place. Finished in 1939, the SS wanted only its own officers to live here. The rural architecture is out of place in a metropolis like Berlin, which ventured far down the modern road just a decade before. We came across this important residential complex during one of our cycling trips through Berlin’s southwest.
Berlin has many high-profile holes in its urban fabric. These can be relics of the Cold War era – places in between East and West Berlin. They can also be derelict buildings with unclear ownership status. Others on the other hand can fall victim to their own ambition. Wandering through the large Forum Museumsinsel, I was wondering whether the place falls into the latter category.
When in Berlin I live a five-minute walk away from Alexanderplatz. The square has had a tumultuous past. Its glory days were in the early twentieth century when it was one of the busiest intersections in the city. Completely destroyed during the war, Alexanderplatz was rebuilt as a Socialist model square. Today, and quite synonymous with Berlin as a whole, there’s a lot of confusion over the future direction of urban planning.
Alexa shopping centre
We hit the road yesterday and visited a few places in the vicinity of my parents’ house in the countryside. The trip took us to Doemitz, birthplace of my mother, Ludwigslust, where my parents went to school and my sister was born, and a whole lot of villages in between. Herewith a few impressions.
I got married in Lenzen, a small town in the northwest of Brandenburg. My grandparents lived here, and my parents have now settled permanently nearby. Lenzen is situated near the river Elbe with its stunning national park. The town itself has a medieval centre that is slowly left to decay, a fate shared with many towns in this rather poor and depopulating part of Germany.
One highlight of our recent trip to Dresden was the visit of the Militärhistorische Museum, the military history museum of the German Army, the Bundeswehr. It recently underwent a dramatic modernisation using the designs of starchitect Daniel Libeskind and re-opened its doors in 2011 amid much fanfare. The striking shard-like structure symbolises the Allied bombing squads’ formation that put to ashes large parts of Dresden in 1945.
Berlin’s Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz is one of my favourite urban spots. Here, Berlin’s history comes alive like hardly anywhere else. Buildings from several decades stand together where important historical events took place. Meanwhile, new houses are being built. Like the one in Linienstrasse 40, German architect Roger Bundschuh’s strange synthesis between art and architecture.
I just got back from a short trip to Dresden. My parents treated us to the hotel, so we had to go with their choice of location in the fringes of the renovated old town. It proved to be a decent place and took us past the very interesting Pirnaischer Platz each day. Here, two buildings stood out, necessitating some further research.