Palate of the Republic (Germany)
The palate of the Republic ( Palast der Republik ) (Berlin - Germany) is a building with center-is German capital, in the part of the ex- GDR (German Democratic republic). Opened in 1976, it was the seat of Volkskammer ( room of the people ) - Parliament of GDR - and an important cultural place and of meeting. In 2002, the Bundestag decided for its destruction which began on February 27th 2006.
OriginAfter the second world war, the Château of Berlin was strongly damaged. Hated like symbol of the kingdom of the Prussia, the Communists with the Soviet sector did it démolire in 1950. Afterwards, the Schloßplatz remained empty for a long time. The place became a place of the processions and military parades and a platform of propaganda.
Whereas the government of Walter Ulbricht sought a symbol for the new nation, it made there set up the Palate of the Republic which was inaguré on April 26th, 1976 after 32 months of work carried out by the principal Architecte Heinz Graffunder with Karl-Ernst Swora, Wolf R. Eisentraut, Günter Kunert, Manfred Prasser and Heinz Aust.
Site and dimensionsThe Palate of the Republic is located on the Place of the Castle ( Schloßplatz ) - place Marx-Engels ( Marx-Engels-Platz ) before 1990 - on the avenue Unter den Linden , about opposite the garden Lustgarten and the Cathédrale of Berlin ( Berliner Dom ), close to the Alexanderplatz, on banks of the channel of the Spree. On opposite bank the statues of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are (the Forum Marx-Engels). In the vicinity still the building of the Council of State of the GDR is in which the European School off Management and Technology takes seat in October 2005.
The building has a rectangular form (length: 180 m, width: 85 m, height: 32m). Its height is aligned with that of Marstalls (old cattle sheds) and the building of the Council of State of GDR neighbors.
UseThe construction of the Palate is based on the concept of a “ house of the peuple ” pled by the socialist mobility of the 19th siècle. the houses of the Culture of the beginning of the the USSR represented in particular a symbol of the new capacity. In Germany, they are especially the trade-union organizations who construirent such establishments. In East Germany, the mission of the “ houses of Culture ” or “ palate of Culture ” became an orientation of the theory of the Architecture.
The favors of the public were ensured because of the absence of such an establishment in the center of East Berlin.
Because of the innumerable lights to the ceiling of the hearth, the building was sunommé Erichs Lampenladen ( the shop of luminaries of Erich ), allusion to the Head of State and the Parti Erich Honecker, by the “ television of the ouest ” - such a familiarity would not have been possible on the television of GDR - like in the popular speech.
The building was useful on the one hand like sits of Volkskammer ( room of the people ) - the Parliament of the German Democratic republic - in a small room, on the other hand like imposing cultural room and of meeting appreciated in a big room of which one could vary the provision. An illustration of the use of this room was the “ day of the German Socialist party unified ” which was held there every five years, and which by its number of representatives justified the size of this room.
The building was for single GDR in its kind: spectacles of national and international artists (the East-German rockor Udo Lindenberg, Harry Belafonte, Carlos Santana and much of others), his clean small theater (TiP), exposures, restaurants with supported provisioning, a coffee with ices, a discotheque, an open post office the every day, a track of Bowling, exposure in the hearth of Painting S large size of 16 eminent East-German artists (Willi Sitte, Walter Womacka, Wolfgang Mattheuer…) on the topic “ when Communist S rêvent ”, many other cultural works, white Marble imported of Sweden.
Evolution since 1990
Closing due to asbestosThe Palate was closed in 1990 because of the presence of Amiante. At the time same of its construction, it was already disadvised isolating against fire the steel constructions by asbestos. Since 1980, there be warning of increasingly important contamination. The Palate did not function whereas temporarily and on special permit. The September 19th 1990, it was closed on order of the Volkskammer (room of the people) freely elected, in preparation for the application in GDR of the national standards and European of security of the employment and health.
Destruction and refitting of spaceAfter expensive work of asbestos removal of 1998 with 2001 and several contests of Architect on the relations with the historical ground of old the Castle of Berlin, the Bundestag (German Parliament) decides in 2003 the demolition of the Palate as well as the temporary installation of an green area until the “ Forum Humboldt ” - which will shelter the museum of the non-European cultures, the central and regional library of Berlin, and the scientific historical collection of the Université Humboldt - there is set up. Its frontage should be rebuilt on the model of that of the castle Baroque of Berlin which was destroyed in 1950. But the Parliament did not ensure the financing nor of the “ Humboldt  forum; ” whose costs are estimated at 590 million euros nor of an assistance of architect or a temporary installation. The demolition of the Palate will cost at least 60 million euros to avoid the destabilization of the close cathedral.
Temporary useIn 2004, the Palate was temporarily reopened on the topic of “ Palate of Peuple ” for a series of exposures. During the summer 2005, a new exposure “ Der Berg ”, tried to make revive the places, and recalled its history, while requiring a true debate on its future. In October 2005, “ DER tote Palast der Republik ” an exposure on the topic of death.
Protest against the destructionJanuary 26th with the May 10th 2005, the Norwegian artist Lars Ramberg installs on the roof of the Palate of the neon lights of more than 6 meters in height writing the word “ ZWEIFEL ” ( doubt ). This signature is the logo of the project “ Palast of Zweifels ” with which Ramberg wishes to continue the discussion on the demolition of the Palate and with the speech on the Utopias lost to join the search for new prospects and identities. The film Good Bye, Lenin! of Wolfgang Becker is at the origin of this protest, fitting in a wave of " Ostalgie ", according to the devoted German term.
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