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Ein neuer Platz am Brandenburger Tor

 Berlin, Germany

A new square for the Brandenburg Gate

The design of the Neues Platz am Brandenburger Tor transforms and reshapes the area between the Brandenburg Gate and Tiergarten in terms of form, space, and function. It reinforces the role of the Brandenburg Gate as a monumental passage from one space to another. At present only one such urban space exists, Pariser Platz. The other one is still to be created.

Pariser Platz, situated on the East side of the Brandenburg Gate, is a formal square confined within Berlin's street pattern. Flanked predominantly by public buildings, banks, and embassies, it provides none of the essential services desirable for recreation and entertainment.

The unsociable character of Pariser Platz is mirrored on the West side of the Brandenburg Gate, facing the Tiergarten, by an area that came to resemble a traffic island. The use of this area is restricted to special events; organised performances or political rallies. On such occasions roads leading to and crossing the area are closed resulting in traffic chaos in the centre of Berlin. For every one of these organised events the site has to be filled with trucks of technical equipment. Food vans and other temporary structures are set up all around the site leaving behind a trail of waste and trash on their departure.

This situation needs to be changed to allow the public to inhabit the space on a daily basis. For this to be achieved the vehicular traffic around the Brandenburg Gate has to be addressed.

There are many operational models for a better redistribution of the space between pedestrians and cars. It can be achieved by converting the present flow of traffic into a one way zone by resituating the road around a new square or by eliminating it altogether.

Every one of these alternatives, when selected, becomes an integral component of the new design providing an architectural form and secured space for a variety of activities. They will be supported by permanent facilities like coffee shops, food kiosks, and seating areas for people to watch passers by or participate in spontaneous performances. These services, as well as the light and sound equipment for day and night performers, will be permanently incorporated into the roof structures placed on the Eastern edge of the Tiergarten.

The Neues Platz am Brandenburger Tor is an additional evocative space in Berlin, the city known for its spaces rather than its buildings. It invites new audiences to interact and perform informally without institutional initiatives, away from today's paternalism. It is not a grandiose task but an Athenian civic pride is needed to accomplish it.

Zvi Hecker