The Reichstag,  Platz der Republik, Berlin, Germany

Foster + Partners
Date Built
1992 - 1999
Platz der Republik
This building was opened originally in 1894 and it was home to the Reichstag until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire.  Further damage occured during World War II as a result of the aerial bombing and the battle to occupy the city at the end of the war.  It remained abandoned for a considerable time after the war and the business of government went elsewhere.  In the 1960s the building was made safe but it wasn't until after the reunification of the country that its restoration was begun to a design by Sir Norman Foster.

Foster's website says of this important project that, "The transformation of the Reichstag is rooted in four issues: the significance of the Bundestag as a democratic forum; a commitment to public accessibility; a sensitivity to history; and a rigorous environmental agenda. Emphasising values of clarity and transparency, the glazed cupola is a new landmark for Berlin, and a symbol of the vigour of the German democratic process."

The work that was done to make the building safe in the 1960s involved covering up the original internal walls.  When these modern walls were stripped away and the old stone walls revealed, the builders discovered graffiti that was placed there by the Russian soldiers who occupied the building at the end of the war.  The soldiers had used charcoal to write their statements.  Presumably there was an ample supply of charred wood in the building.

Foster says the cupola is, " .... crucial to its (the buildings) lighting and ventilation strategies. At its core a light sculptor reflects horizon light into the chamber, with a moveable sun-shield blocking solar gain and glare. As night falls, this process is reversed. The cupola then becomes a beacon, signalling the strength and vigour of the German democratic process."

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