Florian Heilmeyer

House of World Cultures Berlin

Buildings in Berlin are often given nicknames such as ‘Golden Elsie’ (the Victory Column topped with a female figure that stands in the middle of the Grosser Stern roundabout), ’Tele-Asparagus’ (the television tower near Alexan- derplatz railway station) and ‘Palace of Tears’ (the former border crossing point at Friedrichstrasse railway station where East Berliners, who were not allowed to travel west, often had to say a sad farewell to their visitors). Nicknames are a mark of the popular acceptance of the buildings. Keen to achieve such acceptance for the new Federal Chancellery, marketing strategists kept referring to it as the ’Washing Machine’ in an effort to demonstrate public approval. But nobody else used the term. If the popularity of a building were to be measured by the number of nicknames it has, the former Congress Hall – now the House of World Cultures – would likely prove the Berliners’ favourite. [...]

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Reihe:
Bandnummer: 110e

1. Auflage (2008), 32 Seiten, 11 x 16 cm,
17 Abbildungen,

Erscheinungstermin: 10. November 2008
ISBN: 978-3-86711-023-5
Artikelnummer: 9783867110235 Schlagwörter: , ,

Buildings in Berlin are often given nicknames such as ‘Golden Elsie’ (the Victory Column topped with a female figure that stands in the middle of the Grosser Stern roundabout), ’Tele-Asparagus’ (the television tower near Alexan- derplatz railway station) and ‘Palace of Tears’ (the former border crossing point at Friedrichstrasse railway station where East Berliners, who were not allowed to travel west, often had to say a sad farewell to their visitors). Nicknames are a mark of the popular acceptance of the buildings. Keen to achieve such acceptance for the new Federal Chancellery, marketing strategists kept referring to it as the ’Washing Machine’ in an effort to demonstrate public approval. But nobody else used the term. If the popularity of a building were to be measured by the number of nicknames it has, the former Congress Hall – now the House of World Cultures – would likely prove the Berliners’ favourite. Its spectacular sweeping curves, eminently visible thanks to its exposed location on the River Spree, have proved particularly inspiring, giving rise to such terms as ‘Uncle Sam’s Top Hat’, the ’Hat Box’, the ‘Baby Cradle’ and the ’Pregnant Oyster’, the name that has stuck. The political symbolism attached to its construction, together with its eventful past, has assured the building of close attention. The architect responsible for its design, Hugh A. Stubbins, said after it had been completed: “In reality it was a propaganda building directed at the Soviets, who were no more than a kilometre away.” Nicknames are by no means always positive. After the roof of the Congress Hall caved in, derisive terms such as ‘Noodle Pot’ and ’Kidney-shaped Table’ were quickly coined. So many pieces of the history of this once divided city are to be found in the short but eventful 50-year life of this building that one might well think it was built specifically to remind Berliners of what an eventpacked city they live in.

Florian Heilmeyer

Reihe: (TC276)
Bandnummer: 110e
Warengruppe: 1584
Sprache: Englisch
Auflage: 1 (2008)
Abbildungen: 17
Medium: Broschüre
Seitenzahl: 32
Format: 11 x 16 cm
Gewicht: 39 g
Erscheinungsdatum: 10. November 2008
ISBN: 978-3-86711-023-5
Verlag: Stadtwandel Verlag
Cover: Cover download

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