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Pavilion, Berlin

Berlin Pavilion Burger King (Photo: Serge Rompza)
Berlin Pavilion Burger King (Photo: Serge Rompza)
Berlin Pavilion Burger King (Photo: Serge Rompza)
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Berlin Pavilion converted to Burger King

Berlin Pavilion converted to Burger King

BERLIN (DE) - The Berlin Pavilion, a 1950s modernist gem, has received a new lease on life as a fast-food restaurant. The building, originally the Information Pavilion for Internationale Bauausstellung (Interbau) in the Hansaviertel, has been converted by Petra and Paul Kahlfeldt.

The Hansaviertel quarter in Berlin counts as a model of post-war unitary modernism. For the 'Interbau 1957' exhibition, the cream of the international architecture world gathered here to collaborate with town planners, artists and investors. In spite of its popularity as a residential area, the integrity of the development – as with the buildings of the 1950s, '60s and '70s in general – has recently been subject to debate. The cubes, high-rise blocks and pavilions loosely scattered across the park landscape are at odds with the ideology of the 'European City' with its dogma of closed block development. At the end of the 1990s, with this model in mind, Berlin's city authorities granted planning permission for new buildings. Angry protests by local residents managed to avert a disaster.

But a new and ongoing threat arose from the sale of the apartments. They were built 50 years ago, mostly as part of state-subsidized housing programmes which have since been abandoned. But restoration work and alterations (e.g., mandatory wheelchair ramps) are subject to the strict protective guidelines for listed historical buildings, which apply to each and every part of the ensemble.

What this can mean in practice, however, is demonstrated by the most recent example: the deconstructivist-looking exhibition venue from 1957, known as the Berlin Pavilion (designed by Hermann Fehling and Daniel Gogel) was recently converted into a fast-food restaurant. Having ceased to be used as a retail outlet for KPM Royal Prussian Porcelain, the building briefly stood empty. Its proximity to the busy East-West traffic axis presumably gave rise to the idea that motorists might be lured by the prospect of hamburgers to take a break here. Absurd though this may sound, it has of course proved to be true. Inside, although one may find the smell of cooking oil annoying, the alterations to the building's substance are limited, so that the hook-shaped space is still very much present. And while the current use represents a considerable decline in status, the building has at least been saved from destruction. The result is thus probably best described using that cautious term 'compromise'.

Eating & Drinking, Events, Objects | Christian Welzbacher
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