Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Hugh Stubbins, Düttmann and
The Congress Hall, former called
"Benjamin-Franklin-Halle", was the American contribution
to the International Building Exhibition in 1957. It was declared as a
gift of America to its close affiliate of West Berlin.
On the basis of plans by Hugh A. Stubbins, and with the cooperation of
Werner Düttmann and Franz Mocken, a technically revolutionary building
was built on the south bank of the Spree in the eastern part of the Tiergarten.
The people of Berlin soon gave the building a fitting nickname: "pregnant
Above a base story measuring 92
by 96 meters rises the wide sweep of the roof structure. The roof is supported
on both sides by steel anchors which only rest on two points. The base story is generously glazed on both sides and
comprises three staggered
levels with the large reception hall, a cafeteria, a theatre auditorium
with 400 seats, an exhibition area, further smaller rooms for congresses,
seminars and the administration and, on the side facing the spree, a two-story restaurant.
The hall itself contains the auditorium. Because of the almost round floor
plan, the stage at one side is comparatively wide and shallow, and the
rising rows of the seats for the audience become increasingly wide. The
auditorium seats 1250.
In the central axis of the entrance side - facing away from the river
- a large outdoor flight of steps leads to the terrace, which is rarely
used because the entrance is in the base story. In front of the building
is an impressive large pond, in the middle of which Henry Moore's bronze
sculpture "Big Butterfly" can be seen.
In 1980 part of the roof collapsed because the steel core of the front
roof arch had rusted through. Although there was no concept for its use,
the hall was reconstructed for the 750 year celebrations in 1987. Since
1989 it has been used under the name "House of the Cultures of the
World" as a site for events and exhibitions.
Sebastian Krauß 2001
How to visit
The "Haus der Kulturen der
Welt" is in the eastern part of the Tiergarten near the Reichstag.
Station: Haus der Kulturen der Welt
other web sites
The Congress Hall's web site is at
www.hkw.de (Haus der Kulturen der
Welt) = House of the Cultures of the World, with a version in English.
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