Reichstag on Fire
The New Reichstag and
By: Siamak D. Ahi
I don't use the words like "Remodelling" or "Renovation", I write about the "New Reichstag" . The "New" building is not a continuation of the old one at all. Even though a major part of the buildings are the same. The final product resists to resemble the old one.
The main part of the roof, the new dome, neither in proportions, nor in respecting elements and materials, nor transparency and reflection has anything to do with resemblance of the "Old Reichtag". Instead, what was once sitting on top of parliament, is now flying from the top.
A rchitects around the world can see many careful renovations of old buildings these days. There are thousands of of examples of careful renovations these days. Careful renovation of less important buildings, less expensive ones, with less viewers.
Sir Foster has a great ability in creating architectural and engineering products. What is wrong here is the concept of treating history. Parliament, as a great achievement of every nation, is usually surrounded by "Positive Energy" and "Optimism", because people believe they can do it toghether. People have more "Trust" in each other. What they build is the sum of such positive energy and trust.
Only because of the great social attention to Parliaments, they are preserved carefully. They are used in the same old form and style longer than most buildings.
Reichtag didn't have the chance to be used for a long time. But it was still the product of social consciousness and trust. Not the product of war, destruction and distrust. This is the missing part in the concept of "New Reichstag".
If Sir Foster missed this point, why the others didn't mention it. Perhaps the Germans themselves missed the point. Perhaps they used temporary post-war building instead for too long. Perhaps they have given up Berlin as a capital city for too long. Perhaps they forgot the original positive energy. They apparently forgot Reichstag's role in shaping the German Collective Identity.
Instead the "New Reichstag" is comfortable with renovation of Destruction and War. What is destroyed and missing, is more celebrated than what was remained from "Old Reichstag".
The highest part of the buildings, the dome, has a long history of being celebrated as engineering advancement, signature of certain style and providing new dimensions, space and charachter for people below it.
When the dome is ignored. The charachter of building can go with it. This is what happened here to the "Old Reicstag". The most important element and charachteristic signiture of the "Old Reichstag" was replace by a "Fake Dome from Disneyland"....!?
I f the dome fails, the architects fail...! This time if not because of mastering building construction technologies but because of lack of mastering "Building History, Traditon and Identity".
Disrespecting the old architecture of Reichstag, particularly in this magnitude, is not an architectural tradition. It is rather the reflection of "War and Destruction".
Michelangelo finished St. Peter's Basilica, the Bramante's work, some 500 years ago in 16th century. If his way of treating Bramante's work was not a good example for the gang of architects in Berlin. Couldn't they find any other example, from the times before or after St. Peter's experience. Where and when an old building is treated so brutally by architects? ....
Unfortunately and ironically this particular one is being displayed twenty four hours a day, seven days a weeks on TVs for millions of people around the world....
W hat an architectural message...!?
Weren't there in Berlin, not long ago during Internatioal Building Exhibition (IBA), architects who compared Georges Pompidu Center in Paris to Schlakhterei...?
Now, what can they say about their own Reichstag?
To be continued...