8 February 2012

Double Fake - Imitations at Berlin Potsdamer Platz

At times of the Berlinale film festival, one heads out to Berlin Potsdamer Platz quite frequently. I recently took a couple of pictures of the remains of the potemkin village in the heart of Berlin's inner city. 
The building and its fake twin. 2012. (Image by SYNCHRONICITY)
Fake building. 2012. (Image by SYNCHRONICITY)
 The Potsdamer Platz and its adjacent Leipziger Platz, got rebuilt as the new (old) downtown city center according to local urban planners. In order to not be too dependent on investment the city decided to build fake buildings instead: Huge scaffoldings dressed in banners with facade printing anticipate what once will be. The last remaining giant is the scaffolding separating Leipziger Platz from Potsdamer Platz. Together with its twin (an actual building) they articulate a symmetric gate seen from the one side, and enclose the octagon of Leipziger Platz from the other side. The area got completely destroyed during the bombings of WW II; after the Wende, Leipziger Platz got restored in plan. However many of the new buildings are reminiscent of the 1920s era. Therefore, with its huge buildings and high-rises, this part of the New Berlin imitates North American downtowns such as New York or Chicago. Like in other parts of the city, current urban planning tries to imitate the image of the Golden Twenties when Berlin was the flourishing, densely populated capital of Weimar Republic. Only 1920s Berlin never looked like 1920s New York. Arguably the contemporary Potsdamer Platz has an aura of a double fake: buildings that are not buildings, and new buildings that pretend to be old. These are conspicuous symptoms of both, the city struggling with its past and the image the contemporary metropolis aspires to create.

Leipziger Platz scaffolding 2010 (Image source)
Leipziger Platz / Potsdamer Platz 1902 (Image source)
Leipziger Platz 1921 (Image source)
Leipziger Platz 2011 with two fake buildings (Image source)
1920s inspired architecture at Potsdamer Platz (Ritz Carlton) Image source
Scaffolding on Google Maps