The Palace of the Republic versus the Stadtschloss: The Dilemmas of Planning in the Heart of Berlin

in German Politics and Society
Author: Susanne Ledanff
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On 4 July 2002, the German Bundestag had to decide on the future

of one of the capital city’s principal historical sites: the square known

as the Schlossplatz, where the Hohenzollern Palace once stood but

that since 1976 had been the site of the German Democratic Republic’s

flagship Palace of the Republic. It was not the first time that

German politicians had been called upon to decide issues relating to

art and architecture. On previous occasions votes had been taken on

the wrapping of the Reichstag by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Sir

Norman Foster’s dome, Hans Haacke’s artistic installation “Der

Bevölkerung” inside the Reichstag, and Peter Eisenman’s design for

Berlin’s Holocaust memorial.1 Their decision to rebuild the historical

palace, however, differed in that the politicians did not vote on

an architectural design, “in eigener Sache.”2 That is, it was not a

building or monument belonging to the governmental or political

sphere of the capital city but rather a site likely to house cultural

institutions. Parliamentarians, thus, were called upon to settle a

twelve-year-old planning and architectural controversy after all other

means, including architectural competitions, had failed.

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