Varied History of the Kulturforum

An eventful history has left its mark on the Kulturforum. At the beginning of the 20th century, it developed into a middle class residential neighborhood where many pioneers of the avant-garde found a home. In the 1930s, the National Socialists radically redesigned the district. Numerous houses were torn down in preparation for Albert Speer’s Nord-Süd-Achse (a north-south axis cutting through the city), destroying the composition of the neighborhood. An intensive planning and development phase for the Kulturforum began after World War II, when architect Hans Scharoun was the city council member in charge of construction and housing.

The Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz chose the Kulturforum as its main location during the era when Germany was divided. Most of the new buildings were constructed here. Now the Kulturforum is being developed further with the construction of a new museum for 20th century art.

From the Kemperplatz to the Kulturforum in 04:23

The video shows the development of the Kulturforum in Berlin: from a middle class residential neighborhood at the end of the 19th century, the destructions by the National Socialists and during World War II, the planning of a new cultural quarter along the Berlin Wall to the design of a new museum in the 21 century.

Timeline – From the Tiergarten District to the Kulturforum

from 1685
French Huguenots settled in the district

18th century
First summer villas along Tiergartenstrasse (from 1790)

ca. 1840
Basic structure of Friedrichvorstadt neighborhood complete

St. Matthew Church built by Friedrich August Stüler

First embassy (China) erected in the Tiergarten district

Resolution to redesign the Reichshauptstadt (imperial capital) on plans by Albert Speer

from 1938
Residential houses torn down for the Nord-Süd-Achse

Construction starts on the Haus des Fremdenverkehrs (House of Tourism) at the future Runde Platz, the intersection of Speer’s north-south axis

from 1940
The murder of psychiatric patients and people with other illnesses in Tiergartenstrasse 4 (so-called Aktion T4)

Bombing and almost complete destruction of the Tiergarten district

Collective plan for the redevelopment of Berlin, created by Hans Scharoun

Design competition for the concert hall of the Berliner Philharmoniker “Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra” on Bundesallee; Hans Scharoun receives 1st prize

Reconstruction of St. Matthew Church

The Senate decides to move the Philharmonie to Kemperplatz in order to emphasize its significance for all of Berlin

Construction of the Philharmonie

Construction of the Galerie des 20. Jahrhunderts by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Project competition for the building of the new Staatsbibliothek (State Library) with a section on urban planning ideas; Hans Scharoun receives 1st prize

Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz takes over the Galerie des 20. Jahrhunderts, calling it the Neue Nationalgalerie

Open competition for the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; after a revision, Rolf Gutbrod receives the commission

New Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is built

Preliminary design for a chamber music hall; Hans Scharoun receives a direct commission

Planning for Musikinstrumenten-Museum/Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung  (Museum of Musical Instruments/State Institute for Music Research) begins; direct commission goes to Hans Scharoun

After Scharoun’s death, Edgar Wisniewski completes the construction

Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) is constructed by Rolf Gutbrod

Musikinstrumenten-Museum is constructed by Edgar Wisniewski

Competition for surface design of the Piazzetta; Heinz Mack receives 1st prize

Chamber Music Hall is constructed by Edgar Wisniewski

Critical discussion of Gutbrod’s concept for the museums and announcement of a new competition; Hilmer & Sattler und Albrecht, and Schürmann each receive 2nd prize

Hilmer & Sattler und Albrecht are commissioned to continue Gutbrod’s museum buildings and to erect a new building for the Gemäldegalerie (Old Master Paintings)

Berlin Wall is opened

Urban planning competition Potsdamer/Leipziger Platz (Kulturforum excluded); Hilmer & Sattler und Albrecht (with ideas for a connection to the Kulturforum) receive 1st prize

Landscape planning project competition with Kulturforum urban planning part; Valentien + Valentien and Hilmer & Sattler und Albrecht each receive 1st prize. Park/public space design for the project site completed in June 1998 (except for private property)

Gemäldegalerie building opens


Berlin parliament adopts master plan for the further development of the Kulturforum

Outdoor spatial concept by Valentien + Valentien is revised and agreed

Renovation and complete restoration of the Neue Nationalgalerie begins

Implementation of outdoor space concept in the northern section (Philharmonie parking lot) begins

Source: Senate Department for Urban Development and Environment