Project Type: Visitor Centre
Location: Berlin, Germany
Status: Competition Design
Size: 7,700 sqm
Team: Arup, Berlin and Man Made Land, Berlin
Nearly three million people visit the German Bundestag every year. In December 2015, the German Bundestag announced an open, international design competition for the construction of a visitor and information center to meet the need for increased security controls and more adequate visitor facilities. Situated in the Tiergarten south of the entrance to the Reichstag, a tunnel will connect the new building to the Bundestag.
GRAFT’s design for the building responds to the existing architecture of the Reichstag at the northern end of the Tiergarten. The form of the building reveals an immediate connection, emerging out of the ground like the “roots of democracy”. At its heart is a space that echoes that of the plenary hall in the Reichstag building and informs visitors about their visit.
A two-storey foyer with a downward winding ramp marks the beginning of the visitors’ experience. Broad enough to accommodate a large number of visitors, this meeting point expresses a sense of community at the heart of the building.
In its preparatory function, the building introduces the narrative of the visit to the main building, shifting the public information and communicative functions from the Reichstag to the ramp that winds around the smaller, replica of the plenary hall. The ramp regulates the flow of visitors, its walls informing them of what they will see. Through the incorporation of interactive elements in the visitor tunnel, the visitor centre serves not only to explain the history of the place but also functions as an active space of information.
The route affords a 360-degree panoramic view as one progresses along the winding path, juxtaposing the historical impressions against the background of the parkland of the Tiergarten and views of the Reichstag building in the present day.
The form of the building’s exterior is a performative response to its surroundings and is articulated accordingly to provide sufficient solar protection on the one hand and adequate illumination of the interiors on the other.
The design of the roof makes clear reference to the dome of the Reichstag and picks up its basic principle, and visitors will immediately see the relationship between the two buildings.