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Museum Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin

Designed by Georg Ernst Friedrich Neuhaus and Ferdinand Wilhelm Holz, the railway terminal of the Hamburg-Berlin line was completed in 1847 and exerted a strong influence on station architecture in Berlin in the second half of the 19th century. The decline of the station after 1884 led to the demolition of the train hall and the removal of the tracks in 1886, and the conversion of the station buildings into offices and housing. Plans had existed since 1879 for the erection of a transport and railways museum in Berlin, and the old station complex seemed to offer an ideal location; but it was to take until 1906 before the conversion and extension work was completed and the museum opened. A new exhibition hall was erected on the site of the former train hall. Its design, in the form of a classical station hall with an iron load-bearing structure, seemed appropriate for the proposed use. Between 1912 and 1914, further functions were accommodated in two projecting wings set in front of the former reception building. The present use of the complex as a museum for modern art was preceded by a restrained programme of restoration. The exhibition areas are to be extended by two new elongated galleries alongside the historical central hall. To date, only the tract along the Berlin-Spandau ship canal has been realized. Special attention was devoted to the transitions between old and new. Despite the proximity of the various sections of the complex to each other, their autonomy is to be observed. The new exhibition hall, the cross-sectional dimensions of which are based on a square with a side length of 10.80 m, will permit the hanging of large works of art. The curved illuminated ceiling ensures optimum lighting conditions. At the end of this hall, light also enters from the sides, drawing visitors discreetly forward. The façade, articulated by slender, freestanding cast aluminium columns, documents the clear, but visually measured, contrast to the traditional architectural language of the existing structures. The current exhibition of modern art reflects the constructional context in the old and new sections of the building. The proposed sculpture courtyard will become an enclosed space only when the second gallery tract is completed.
This article is taken out of the following magazine:
DETAIL 6/1997

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