I am off to Berlin again this week I thought I’d post something vaguely relevant...
This is Helmut Jahn’s Sony Centre in Potdamer Platz, Berlin. Potdamer Platz at one point was the biggest building project in Europe, constructed in the void left behind after the split of East and West.
Before the World Wars in the early 20th Century the Platz had a prominent place in the city; at the time it was the busiest transport interchange in Europe. Much of this infrastructure and it’s surrounding architecture was destroyed by bomb damage, siege warfare and the like, leaving behind a scared terrain that fell into the dividing line of Communism and Capitalism.
The unification of Germany in 1989 enabled this no-mans land to be redeveloped, Renzo Piano drew up a master plan, and the square became an important focal point again, following heavy investment.
The area itself is over 60 hectares, central and in a major European capital, so understandably it offered a lucrative venture in the reinvented city.
Sony Centre itself contains a mix of retail spaces, restaurants, a hotel and conference centre, luxurious apartments, office space, art galleries, film archives, a cinema, an IMAX theater, a small theme park and of course a Sony shop, making it potentially one of the most mixed used pieces of architecture in Germany.
For people who have visited Berlin, one (of the many) specific things that could stick in the mind, is the overground pipe networks that traverse roads and are quite noticeably bright pink. The Platz is the epicentre of the pipelines. This harks back once again to times of divide, but now leaves a distinct character of a fun, playfull, vibrant metropolitan area.