Q Berlin 2022, “the metropolitan conference for the immediate present”, took place at the International Congress Center in Westend on September 15-16, featuring a hybrid assortment of talks, performances, and other events. The massive, brutalist ICC was built in 1979 and closed in 2014, though it is occasionally used for one-off events.
MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE IN Berlin is, understandably, a subject heavy with the weight of history. The decades spent rebuilding from the devastation of WWII while split down the middle by two hostile powers meant that, for many building projects, aesthetics played a distant secondary role to functionality. Nonetheless, the severely limited building resources of both East and West did not stop the proliferation of bold, elegant Modernist constructions on both sides of the Wall. With entire neighborhoods in ruins and a postwar population in desperate need of housing and infrastructure, the buildings would be build regardless; the question for posterity was who could transcend the limited resources provided and make a lasting aesthetic impression on the cityscape.
BY THE TIME Tegel Airport officially opened in 1974, Berlin had already seen more than its share of aviation history. Half a century earlier, Otto Lilienthal launched his innovative gliders from a hilltop in Lichterfelde, and throughout the Weimar years and into WWII and the Cold War airfields sprung up all over the city.
THE U7 IN its current form was largely a product of Cold War-era West Berlin, and is arguably the most “West Berlin” of all U-Bahn lines. Despite being Berlin’s longest U-Bahn line (as well as one of the longest underground urban rail lines in all of Europe at 31.8 kilometers), every single one of its stations, from Rudow in the southeast to Rathaus Spandau in the northwest, falls within the borders of the former West Berlin.
THE SIEMENSBAHN WAS a short, “spur”-style urban railroad that served Berlin’s northwestern district of Siemsstadt from 1929 until 1980. Consisting of only three stations, it originated at Jungfernheide (a still-active station on the present-day Ringbahn), crossing the Spree and passing through the Wernerwerk and Siemensstadt stations before ending at Gartenfeld.
SIEMENS, MUCH LIKE AEG and Daimler, is a present-day German company with roots stretching back to the 19th century. Founded in an office on Kreuzberg’s Schöneberger Straße in 1847, by the time of founder Werner von Siemens’ death in 1892 the company had offices in 13 countries.
WHILE THE PRIMARY campus of Berlin’s Freie Universität is in Dahlem, just west of the Botanischer Garten and just south of the US embassy’s imposing Dahlem location, the university also includes other satellite campuses in the former West Berlin. One of these is the Benjamin Franklin campus, located several kilometers southeast of Dahlem on the Spree.
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.