West Berliner Platten

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.


This garden tower block is in Spandau’s Pichelsdorf, close to the river Havel. Berliners love their balconies to the extent that “Balconia” is a veritable holiday destination, with whole summers being spent on them (or in front). The colours of seasonal fruit and vegetable as well as umbrellas in all shapes and forms successfully gloss over the beautiful exposed concrete. Visit this place in winter and it may look just a tad grim.




This one above is the iconic “Snake” – aka “Autobahnueberbauung Schlangenbader Strasse”. It is a large residential project on top of a city highway that is tunnelled through the complex. Former mayor von Weizsaecker had the following praise for the structure: “If the devil wants to do something evil to this city, he will have another Snake built.”


Admittedly, the Snake is rather crazy: the building is 600 meters long, its more than 1,500 flats use more than 120 floor layouts (!), the 3,000 residents do not hear a sound of the more than 80,000 cars that pass through their home’s belly every day. This blog has more photos and details in German.

The two projects for next time are the actually iconic Hansaviertel (1950s) and the Corbusierhaus Berlin (1958). A bit of a shame I’ve never visited them!

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