After excitedly getting up at 3 in the morning to catch our flight, what we needed upon arrival was a large dose of teutonic rationalism. Of course we cried, no tour of Berlin would be complete without an extensive Hans Kollhoff bonanza so a group of us took in as much as possible before our tour around the Neues Museum. First of all we checked out Kollhoff's renovation of the Ministry of Defense but security was so tight due to the weekend's terrorist threats we were unable to gain access. We then took in a mixed use building on Friedrichstrasse which proved a lot better behaved than expected. Even though the building was well detailed, most of the wit was limited to Kollhoff's peculiar tendancy for 'mini me' architecture. This seems to involve designing a well proportioned sombre building and then acquiring a smaller nearby site to do a similar version with squished proportions. After this we were well placed to relax in Kollhoff's nearby 'Newton Bar'. While sipping on the most expensive beer in Berlin we took in the weird mongrel of an Adolf Loos pastiche with Helmut Newton's famous 'They are coming' photograph in the background.
Following this was Chipperfield's renovation of the Neues Gallery on Museum Island. This was my personal highlight of the trip. A very patient member of Chipperfield's Berlin office was kind enough to take us around the building and the project was explained in some detail. The project could be split into three layers; new additions, faithful restoration of existing decor and the exposure of the buildings existing structure. While the restored rooms demonstrate colourful whimsy, Chipperfield's additions and prosthetics are a sombre but successful antidote and give the building more power than a mere restoration.
Day 2 started off with a tour around some housing built near Potsdamer Platz in the nineties. This features some so so contributions by Rogers and some more sombre numbers by Diener and Diener and Rossi. Interesting stuff, although Marvin pointed out that Diener and Diener may have got carried away with the extrude button this time. After that was a visit around Mies' National Gallery and Sharoun's Philharmonie. The National Gallery has installed some curtains on the ground floor making it possible to see a bit of art there, I'm sure Mies is turning in his grave. A trip up Kollhoff's Daimler Chrysler tower gave us a great view of the city and another opportunity to sip on Berlin's lovely Seltzer water.
Although quite a short day given our flight times, a small group of us went to see some more Kollhoff in the wealthy but dull borough of Charlottenburg. This mixed use building is probably Kollhoff at his most free and more successful than the other work we saw. Perhaps Kollhoff has realised the importance of not leaning to heavily on the extrude button!