“Beyond just a security screening point, the building provides an experiential interface between the sublime landscape of the Tiergarden and the carefully construed geometries of the Reichstag dome.”
Sited in one of Berlin’s most iconic historical districts, our proposal for a new Visitor Centre is a contextual response to the urban master plan of the German Bundestag, activating connections between the Tiergarten to the west, Branderburger Tor to the east, and the Reichstag to the north. Acknowledging the site’s frontage to Scheidemannstrasse, the scheme is axially aligned with the existing avenue, and acts as an iconic hinge point between Platz der Republik and Pariserplatz.
Similar in conceptual approach to the adjacent Reichstag, the scheme acknowledges the importance of maintaining a highly porous relationship to the exterior whilst providing a sheltered, highly secured interior. Conceptually, formally and programmatically, the building is conceived as an urban-scale filter. Favouring the site’s east-west orientation, the structure mediates the relationship between public realm and secured environment emphasising views of the surrounding parkland whilst providing an efficient and iconic gateway for visitors.
Formally, the building is is conceived as a solid mass carved from within, providing a multi-story atrium with two vaulted openings on the east and west to establish a clear directionality for access and egress. The atrium is not only the main feature of the building, but also a distinct means of easing visitor wayfinding as they enter and exit the Reichstag.
Flanking the main atrium on the north and south are two ancillary zones containing structure, vertical circulation, and additional support program, including the main information desk, cloak room, gift shop, loading zone, security services and delivery facilities. This layered hierarchy allows for a wide, unobstructed clearance for visitors– providing ample space for eight entry security lanes on the east and two exit checkpoints on the west.
Contained within the curvilinear geometry of these two vaults is a new assembly hall for the Forum Plenarium and eight seminar rooms for the German Bundestag, buffered by a skylight that illuminates the main atrium below. The layering of program, both in plan and section, produces a richly articulated space that ensures visual and circulatory connections between interior and exterior. More than just a visitor centre, the building is a civic space drenched by diffuse natural light– echoing the sense of reverence evoked by the Reichstag itself.
Responding to the need for a safe environment inside the Reichstag Dome, this proposal prioritises security by clearly delineating enclosed screening perimeters along the entry and exit points. Access to the building is monitored through eight security lanes, with ample space for x-ray screening and metal detection devices, ensuring that all visitors are cleared before entering the main foyer. Ancillary facilities, including interrogation and screening rooms are also contained within this security perimeter, in the immediate vicinity of the main entrance. Likewise, the loading bay and delivery zones are also part of this perimeter, and are monitored by a security desk that will remain staffed at all times.
Visitor egress will be directed through the west end of the building, monitored by two security checkpoints on the north and south. This clear symmetrical organisation of spaces not only allows for easy flow in and out of the building, but also centralises security and thus streamlines the operation of the facility as a whole.
Acknowledging its privileged location within Berlin’s Tiergarten, our landscape design proposal takes cues from the surrounding language and materiality to situate the Visitor Centre within its context. The building becomes married to its context through an open, dignified plaza framed by an allée of trees, which formally ties it to the existing axes and pedestrian paths of the Tiergarten. A visual dialogue is established between the Visitor Center and the Parliament across the street by orienting the allées towards the Reichstag and using vegetation to frame the Visitor Centre from a distance, thus reinforcing the connection between the two buildings.
Our approach to materiality is equally contextual. The ground plane will adopt the existing palette of the Tiergarten, alternating cobbled paving with stonedust pathways to define the perimeter of circulation around the building, and frame the small plaza at the entry of the building. Aiming to keep a limited material palette, cobblestone surfaces for vehicular transit will be of the same appearance as those for pedestrian use, emphasising the pedestrian nature of the project and the aspiration to keep the project as free from vehicular traffic as possible.
As a whole, our treatment of landscape is deliberately kept minimal in order to emphasise the rich textures of the surrounding context, and avoid detracting from the architecture of the building itself.
Client: Deutscher Bundestag
Use: Visitor center
Bldg. Area: 8720m2
Status: 2 stage international design competition
Architect: LUCA POIAN FORMS
Landscape Architect: David Zielnicki