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What are you reading, Mr. Streckwall?

Ralf Streckwall is an architect and head of the Technical Facility Management Construction department at the MDC. He is responsible for all planning and construction activities at the Center. Together with architectural firm Staab Architekten, he built the BIMSB at Hannoversche Strasse 28. This research building was inaugurated at the beginning of 2019.

111 Buildings in Berlin You Must See

I must admit that when I first picked up the book, I was a bit jaundiced – I expected just another top ten. But I was pleasantly surprised. The very first time I thumbed through the book, I found it – one of the two large stairwells in the architecture building (29) of the Technical University of Berlin in Ernst-Reuter-Platz. That’s where I studied; we worked, celebrated and presented our drawings on those landings. For me, this building is still one of the best in Berlin.

Ralf Streckwall.

Continuing to browse, I find lots of other projects that I would rank among the city’s best buildings:

The Luckhardt Villa (no. 6) and a little further down the same street, Villa Mendelsohn at Rupenhorn 6. Nearby there’s Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation (111), directly opposite the Olympic stadium. If you’re out and about on your bike and you’re feeling fit, you can cycle from there via Havelchaussee to Klein Glienicke and visit the casino in the palace grounds (18) by Karl-Friedrich Schinkel. On the way, you pass Pfaueninsel Palace, and from the Glienicke Palace grounds there’s a wonderful view of the Church of the Redeemer in Sacrow, which is part of Potsdam, the Glienicke Bridge and Babelsberg Palace.

In a much more central location, you have the Shell House (16) by Emil Fahrenkamp on the Landwehr Canal. From there, going past the Neue Nationalgalerie by Mies van der Rohe (why isn’t that included in the 111?), you can walk to the Philharmonie (33) by Hans Scharoun.

A little further south, on Potsdamer Strasse, is the Kathreiner-Haus (47) by Bruno Paul. Behind the building is the Heinrich von Kleist Park and the Berlin Kammergericht [Superior Court of Justice]. The court building was the seat of the Allied Control Council between 1945 and 1990.

Another of my highlights is the Circulation Tank (102) by Ludwig Leo at the Tiergarten lock. Last year, we visited the whole layout of the former imperial testing institute for hydraulic engineering and shipbuilding, including the adjacent test basins of up to 157 metres long, on our summer excursion. From there, it’s only a short distance to the architecture building (29) in Ernst-Reuter-Platz.

And of course there’s the AEG turbine factory (98) by Peter Behrens in Huttenstrasse. In terms of architectural history, it’s one of the most important buildings in Berlin – the link between the work of Schinkel and the Neue Nationalgalerie by Mies van der Rohe – the dawn of the modern era, so to speak. At that time, Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier were all working with Behrens at around the same period.

The spiral staircase in the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB), the MDC building in Berlin-Mitte.

These aren’t exactly the well-known tourist magnets, but small, hidden gems. And finally, there’s number 108 – the spiral staircase at the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB), the MDC building in central Berlin. I liked the accompanying text a lot. It doesn’t reduce the stairway to a sculpture; it describes the many levels on which the space works. That brings us back to the large stairwells in the university architecture building. A space, a staircase that stimulates people to share ideas, that forges connections, that promotes communication, that creates curiosity.

All in all, I think the selection of buildings is very good. It’s a great encouragement to explore the city, especially now with almost everything being closed.

111 Bauwerke in Berlin, die man kennen muss: guidebook by Lucia Jay von Seldeneck, photography by Verena Eidel. Emons Verlag (in German only)