Berlin’s skyscrapers

Photo Catherine Gras

Berlin is a large, flat city. Again, the comparison with other European capitals is surprising, there are very few high-rise buildings.

Berlin is built on a plain, if we except the few hills (Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg) which remain very modest, its population density is relatively low and it is a city with multiple centres.

The city is built on land made of sand, water, old swamps … obviously not the best foundations for high rise buildings. The National Socialist regime had the bitter experience of this. Hitler had grandiose plans for Germania, the capital of the Third Reich. Before launching the pharaonic works, a test was made with a large concrete cylinder (Schwerbelastungskörper) near Tempelhof … and the test was conclusive, under the weight, the cylinder sank by nearly 20cm. Too difficult to destroy, this monumental “object” has remained in place since the end of the war.

Of course, this scarcity of tall buildings is also a legacy of the partition that marked its urban planning until the late 1980s, but the construction of the last thirty years has not really changed the urban landscape. Berlin continues to be built around massive, imposing, but rather low-rise buildings, the government district being a perfect example.

But those who appreciate skyscrapers can rest assured, there are a few districts with high-rise buildings and I’ll take you there.

The television tower, built with strong symbolic content, by the East German regime, in the 1970s remains without question the tallest building in Berlin.

Around Alexander Platz is another very tall building, the second tallest in the city after the TV tower, the Park Inn hotel, it should be joined in a few years by another tower.

Potsdamer Platz, a traffic hub of interwar Berlin, was rebuilt in the 2000s after having been a no-man’s-land throughout the city’s partition. Two very tall buildings, accompanied by a third lower one, open the perspective to the West, the Sony center and the Kulturforum.

At night:

Charlottenburg, towards Zoologischer Garten, has two large modern buildings, the whole gives a nice perspective, to my taste, on the memorial church (Gedächtnisskirche).

The latest developments are taking place to the east, along the river, in the Media Spree area. To be continued …

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