At the Crossroads of Baroque and Contemporary Art

Humboldt Forum, Berlin Schloss

Architect: Franco Stella
Text: György Szegő
Photos: SHF / Giuliani von Viese, Stefan Falk, David von Becker

The Schloss boasts of a rich past of 600 years. The Renaissance-style castle was rebuilt as a Baroque one by Andreas Schlüter in 1698, and was completely destroyed in 1945. Its reconstruction today was preceded by an intense social and professional debate. The German Bundestag made a decision at last in 2002: the Berlin palace was restored on it original site with new functions as Humboldt Forum, the centre of science and culture. The project was about its partial reconstruction. The winning entry of the international tender published in 2008 was submitted by Franco Stella, discarding the concept of synthetizing the old and the new. Instead, it focussed on the deliberate clash of the original architecture with the contemporary streamlined one, which permeates the entire complex with a generous experiment. In line with the decision of the Bundestag, only three main facades, the historically precious facades of the court, the cupola and three interior portals of emblematic significance are going to be reconstructed. The winning concept by Franco Stella was to guide the city’s life throughout the Humboldt Forum via the old passage through the generously spacious Schlüter-Hof and the other court of similar dimensions preserved as an open-air one. The latter has been converted into an open day-and-night public zone.