A bit more history on The Reichstag Building

Kaiser Wilhelm I, who was the Emperor at the time, was responsible for laying its foundation stone. The Kaiser didn’t even like the building to begin with because the Reichstag’s neo-baroque dome would be even greater in stature than the city castle.

Figure 1. Reichstag in 1895

Some of the walls are still covered with graffiti left over from the Soviet takeover. When Norman Foster ripped out the paneling he was amazed to discover the text inscribed on the stone underneath. He was profoundly affected by the time machine-like power of the letters and he modified the architectural plans in order to preserve them (Atlas Obscura, s.d)

Figure 2. Graffiti on the stone walls in The Reichstag

In 1894, after an architectural contest, the winner, Frankfurt architect Paul Wallot, was chosen to design the building, which featured a very large dome. In February 27, 1933, the dome was destroyed along with the rest of the building in the Reichstag fire, an act blamed on the Communists. The remains of the building and the dome were further demolished with the bombings of Berlin through World War II and the eventual fall of Berlin to the Soviets in 1945. While the Reichstag building was partially reconstructed in the 1960s as a conference centre, the dome was not. Much of the dome and the ornaments that decorated it had been removed by that time (Architravel,2013)

caption
Figure 3. Glass and steel create the copula – The view from the top. The Reichstag dome offers a 360-degree panoramic view of Berlin.

The Reichstag Dome - A Sculpture of Light Above Government in Berlin, Germany
Figure 4. The Reichstag’s new cupola or ‘lantern’ looking beautifully modern against the original stone building

The Reichstag’s new cupola or “lantern”, has quickly become a Berlin landmark. Within it, two helical ramps take members of the public to a viewing platform high above the plenary chamber, raising them symbolically above the heads of their political representatives. The cupola is both a generative element in the internal workings of the building and a key component in our light and energy saving strategies, communicating externally the themes of lightness, transparency, permeability and public access that underscore the project (Kris Cyganiak,2015)

Reichstag, berlin, Foster & partners, restoration, architecture, energy efficient, daylight, parliament building, glass, cupola
Figure 5. Foster & Partners’ Beautiful Green Renovation of Berlin’s Old Reichstag Parliament Building

A mirrored cone in the centre of the dome directs sunlight into the building. The dome is open to the public and can be reached by climbing two steel, spiralling ramps that are reminiscent of a double-helix. Energy efficient features involving the use of the daylight shining through the mirrored cone were applied, effectively decreasing the carbon emissions of the building. Over eight hundred tons of steel and 3,000 square meters of glass went into building the structure, which is 23.5 meters high, while 360 mirrors provide daylight to the newly designed plenary chamber (wikiarquitectura, s.d)

Fig. 6 The Reichstag building

Supported by 12 columns of reinforced concrete, the structure has a diameter of 40 meters, a height of 23.5 meters and a total weight of 1,200 tons. The trunk of cone, which makes “light sculpture” has a lower base of 2.5 meters, while the top measured 16 meters. This endowed, in addition, a mobile screen that moves to prevent the penetration of heat and direct sunlight (Ana Lisa, s.d)

Referencing

Atlas Obscura (date unknown) Soviet Graffiti in the Reichstag https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/soviet-graffiti-reichstag (accessed 3.5.19)

Architravel (2013) Online Architecture Guide https://www.architravel.com/architravel/building/reichstag-dome/ (accessed 3.5.19)

Kris Cyganiak (2015) The Reichstag Dome – A Sculpture of Light Above Government in Berlin, Germany https://www.thepinnaclelist.com/2015/01/12/20934/reichstag-dome-sculpture-light-government-berlin-germany/ (accessed 3.5.19)

wikiarquitectura (date unknown) https://en.wikiarquitectura.com/building/reichstag/ (accessed on 3.5.19)

Ana Lisa (2014) Foster & Partners’ Beautiful Green Renovation of Berlin’s Old Reichstag Parliament Building https://inhabitat.com/foster-partners-turn-old-reichstag-parliament-into-energy-power-station-in-berlin/foster-partners-restoration-berlin-reichstag-5/ (accessed on 3.5.19)

Images

Fig.1 Reichstag in 1895 https://theculturetrip.com/europe/germany/articles/berlins-most-famous-building-the-reichstag/ (accessed 3.5.19)

Fig.2 Graffiti on the stone walls in The Reichstag ( https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/soviet-graffiti-reichstag (accessed 3.5.19)

Fig.3 The view from the top. The Reichstag dome offers a 360-degree panoramic view of Berlin. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo https://www.german-way.com/travel-and-tourism/germany-for-tourists/city-guides-germany/berlin-and-potsdam/the-reichstag-in-berlin/ (accessed 3.5.19)

Fig.4. Foster & Partners’ Beautiful Green Renovation of Berlin’s Old Reichstag Parliament Building Photo © Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitat https://inhabitat.com/foster-partners-turn-old-reichstag-parliament-into-energy-power-station-in-berlin/foster-partners-restoration-berlin-reichstag-4/ (accessed 3.5.19)

Fig.5 The Reichstag building https://en.wikiarquitectura.com/building/reichstag/ (accessed 3.5.19)

Fig. 6 The Reichstag building https://en.wikiarquitectura.com/building/reichstag/ (accessed 3.5.19)

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s