View of the banks of the Spree River abutting the park
Spreebogen Park is an important part of the German Government's master plan to revamp and give the Federal Capital, Berlin a new identity. One of the plan's major goals is to improve pedestrian access along the Spree River. This park shows them beginning to do so with its location right along the Spree with pedestrian access now running parallel to the river. Because of the location of the park, now, it has strong ties holding together the Parliamentary quarters to the river providing open space for the public and government officials. This park also stands as a place for large events including marketing campaigns and is used to show off wealth and ideas to the people of Germany and the world.
The Federal Government's Master Planning process began after the Berlin Wall came down in 1991. To heal the country and unify the east and west there was a two-part international master plan competition. The first stage would select a spatial master plan and the second stage would develop the architecture. The later national competition for the Bundestag and Spreebogen began in 1992. The president of the Bundestag Rita Susmuth described what she thought the place should be:
“The German Bundestag wants to meet the demand for a transparent and efficient parliament which is close to its citizenry, is open to the outside, and is conceived as a place of integration and as a center of our democracy at the same time it strives to reunite the city halves, divided for decades in a new spatial and structural order, and thus restore its social and urban identity.”
In 1996 – 97 when the master plan was starting to take shape there was a design competition for the area where Spreebogen Park now sits. The winner of this competition was the Swiss firm Weber and Sauer. Their design for the park was implemented and opened in June of 2005.
Google Earth Screen capture showing the layout and location of park
The park is located on the southern banks of the Spree River directly in front of the German Chancellery building and the Paul-Lobe-Haus. Across the River to the north is the main hub of Berlin the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) that creates a beautiful backdrop for the view from the park overlooking the Spree and other places in Berlin. The total area of the site is 6 Hectares (15 acres). The park has large open spaces and fields for recreation, there are also pedestrian pathways moving parallel with the river. On the banks of the river are seating areas and diverse plantings with a large steel plated retaining wall holding back the fields above.
View of the diverse plantings at the base of the large retaining walls
The purpose of this park was first to create an inviting public space in the center of the new parliamentary capital. Second, was to build on the master plan idea of creating pedestrian access along the Spree and third to create public open space in the downtown of Berlin .
Sketch by Todd Schuler of the wall looking towards the main train station - Berlin Haupbahnhof
Significance and Critique
Sculpture of large cleats
One of the most significant aspects of the park may not be the design of the open spaces but the views created by the great lawn. Due to the massive steel wall, the lawn area is elevated above the banks of the river and has magnificent views of the parliamentary building and much of the city. The other significant aspect of the park is a pair of over sized soccer cleats that were installed in 2006 sponsored by Adidas. This is a fun yet smart way of bringing highlights to a park that seems to not get enough attention. To me this park is a focal point in the city and one of the first things you see when entering the city from the Hauptbahnhof. Because of the location of the park and visual significance I think that the park will keep having attention brought to it whether it be with sculpture or large events the park will be in the spotlight at the center of Berlin .
Spreebogen park is directly accessible on foot from the Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station) or a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. As a public open space, the park is open day and night.
Hells Capital: Ellen Posner. Atlantic Monthly pg. 92-99 July 1994
World Cities: Berlin, Alan Balfour. St Martin's Press 1995