Haus der Kulturen der Welt
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10

Hugh Stubbins, Düttmann and Mocken 1956-57

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 oyster".


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.

Bus 100

Station: Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Books and other web sites

The Congress Hall's web site is at (Haus der Kulturen der Welt) = House of the Cultures of the World, with a version in English.


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