Along the Wall


What does preservation mean in any context, but particularly in Berlin where waves of changes have happened rapidly, sometimes within a lifetime? Debate is alive in Berlin regarding what is a living part of the city, what gets preserved, whose needs are more pressing, which and how this all gets decided.

Traversing the wall could result in a survey of its many politics – when architects/critics cannot find the best way to save the essence of an object they can see the combinations and cases where one force has won over others. The wall has been parceled into so many different memorials that it serves as a catalogue of methods for preserving a piece of history. Multiple stories are more or less relevant at different parts of the wall. It is also a lesson in warring politics of factions, and the way a protest against the politics of one system has become the victory of the economics of another.


East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery is a symbol for pacifism, public art, and alternative cultures. The art has become so iconic, it is now a wall within a wall.


Wall at the Topographie of Terror

The Topography of Terror exhibit demonstrates literally the layers of history, including the Stasi jail cells sitting almost directly below the wall. This site is so close to many of the more touristic stretches of the wall and underlines the problematics in presenting two stories within the same place that battle for relevance.

At Bernauer Strasse the stories of escape and the daily impact of the wall on families are evident. The memorial presents a clear example of mapping the wall and these routes onto the city through “drawing” on the park, in parallel with maps that translate the city markings. It also demonstrates the advantages and disadvantages of repatriating property to owners who can build or sell the rights – new apartment buildings sit in the path of the park, and can cut off the memorial as private property.


Open Brandenburg Gate

Potsdamer Platz, a nexus of business in Berlin which was once cut off, is today stitched together by radiating streets alternating with corporate developments. The nearby Kulturforum appears almost isolated in comparison with the packed Sony Center.