James-Simon-Galerie / David Chipperfield Architects. Image © Ute Zscharnt for David Chipperfield Architects
While the city of Berlin has a long history, dating back to the 13th century, its architecture and urban fabric has undergone the most significant changes during the last century, reflecting the impact of major historical events that took place in the German capital. During the early 20th century, Berlin transformed into a modern metropolis, marked through the construction of grand buildings and imposing structures to demonstrate the city’s growing economic and political power. The 1920s and 1930s saw the emergence of the Modernist movement, which, together with the Bauhaus school of architecture founded in 1919, influenced the image and urban fabric of Berlin.
During the Second World War the city was heavily bombed, resulting in the destruction of many historical buildings. During the post-war period, reconstruction efforts focused on rebuilding infrastructure and housing, while the city remained divided until 1989, with the fall of the Berlin wall. After this period, Berlin witnessed a renewed interest in architecture and urban design. Interventions such as David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum aimed to rebuild historical monuments without erasing the markings of their difficult past. Other projects such as the renovation of the Reichstag had a different purpose. Norman Foster’s intervention intended to keep the image of this building but change its symbolism from a structure representative for the Nazi regime to one embracing the ideals of democracy and equality.