The German Federal Chancellery in Berlin was built between 1997 and 2001 to plans by Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank. The building is part of a larger composition that includes the Paul-Löbe-Haus and the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus as well as the Chancellery Park. The Federal Chancellery is one of the most important government buildings in the German capital and is characterised by its transparency and open spatial composition. It is the home of the federal agency serving the German Chancellor and also contains the Chancellor’s executive offices.
With the decision to reinstate Berlin as the capital, a competition was held in 1992 for urban design concepts for new legislative and executive buildings at the Spreebogen, an area defined by a prominent curve in the river Spree. The winning design by the Berlin architects Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank, dubbed the “Band des Bundes” (Federal Ribbon), envisaged linear development that stretches across the area and the Spree. The two riverbanks – previously in the separate realms of East and West Berlin – were thereby joined, thus using urban design to also symbolise reunification.
Schultes and Frank also won the subsequent competition to design the new Federal Chancellery. Their scheme consists of a 36-metre-high block with a square footprint and two flanking linear buildings, which together take up the full width of the “Band des Bundes”. The two linear buildings, both 18 metres high, house the staff offices. The façades of exposed concrete alternate here with glazed winter gardens.
The eight-storey block in the middle has an open configuration with large glazed openings, freestanding wall segments, curved ceiling panels and open stairs. Particularly striking are the two semicircular windows on the north and south façades. The main building houses the cabinet meeting room, conference rooms and the offices of the Chancellor and her Ministers of State. In front of the building is the forecourt, where state guests are formally received, and to the rear is the Chancellery Park, which extends across the Spree and forms the western end of the “Federal Ribbon”. [KS/DK]
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