CONSIDERED BY SOME to be the world’s first industrial designer, Peter Behrens (1868-1940) is also one of the giants of modern German architecture. His legacy looms especially large in Berlin, where two massive building complexes—the Turbinenfabrik in Moabit and the AEG Humboldthain campus in Wedding—tower monumentally over their respective neighborhoods.
Like most of Berlin, our adopted neighborhood of Moabit has its share of signs ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime, including many that have outlived the stores whose names they bear. This far-from-complete roundup features some of the neighborhood’s most colorful signage.
Phantom Architecture is a series focusing on vanished buildings, both in Berlin and further afield.
Like so many Berlin locations, the corner of Turmstraße and Stromstraße in Moabit saw multiple buildings rise and fall over not centuries, but decades. The first, the Ufa-Palast, was built in 1925 by the state-sponsored Universum Films AG. Designed by the architect Fritz Wilms (who specialized in theaters), it was a massive, 1700-seat cinema, complete with a classical, columned facade, a lavish foyer with its own phone booth, and a restaurant (the somewhat alarmingly named Café Vaterland) in a separate building just east of the theater.