The master plan
German reunification unexpectedly moved the Kulturforum to a central downtown location in 1990. With it came the loss of the essential narrative of the place of freedom of art and culture of the West in the frontline city of the Cold War. The Kulturforum became a relic of the ended era of West Berlin. At the same time, it was to breathe life into the hitherto utopian connection to the cultural center in the old and new center of Berlin. The Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) and the State of Berlin responded to the challenge by developing so-called master plans. For the State Museums, the redevelopment program for the Museum Island was adopted in 1999 and included the accommodation of the collections. The decision at that time to keep the Gemäldegalerie (Old Master Paintings) at the Kulturforum has caused considerable controversy to this day. In 2002-2005, the Senate Department for Urban Development developed a concept for the further development of the Kulturforum based on Hans Scharoun’s urban planning model. With hearings of residents, expert discussions, a planning workshop with architects and the involvement of the public, the concept was condensed into a master plan. It provided for significant interventions: The creation of a city square in front of St. Matthew’s Church by partially building on the open space next to the church, the demolition of the piazzetta in front of the main entrance to the museums and the creation of a new museum square with a surrounding pillared colonnade, the construction of numerous new buildings for commercial uses, and the embedding of Potsdamer Strasse in an overarching green space in the center. The master plan was not pursued as of 2007.
Update, reference, and camouflage
In the Senate resolution on the further development of the Kulturforum of March 16, 2004, three “essentials” were defined for the master plan to be drawn up: “The concentration on a core space designed as an urban landscape, the creation of a city square associated with St. Matthew’s Church, and a new museum square in place of the ramp called “Piazzetta”.” The Scharoun urban landscape was to be given a contemporary update with the vision of the interconnected “green” pedestrian city. With the restoration of the old cubature in the area of Matthäikirchplatz, reference was to be made to the Tiergarten district. The indifference of the museum buildings by Gutbrod and Hillmer & Sattler was to be remedied by partial demolition and conversion of the existing buildings. The colorful mixture of update, reference and camouflage and the additional condition of budget neutrality in the implementation did not lead to a sustainable planning.