Standing within a stone’s throw of the previous site of the Berlin Wall, many buildings have been built, demolished or rejuvenated. With the major part of this change going on within the city still to this day, this paves the way for many interesting and futuristic architectural pieces to be built and different styles to be explored. Near Zimmerstrasse, a street nearest the famous Checkpoint Charlie, House of the Press stands not only to show the change in history, but also to remember the area’s previous uses.
Following World War II and promptly afterwards the Berlin Wall dividing the german capital, many areas never saw a proper reconstruction to what we now relate to a city landscape. The areas around the wall were flattened to stop those in the East escaping to the West by jumping out of the buildings and over the border, or they were used as part of the wall defence system. A labyrinth of structures, traps and guard dogs lay in wait.
In 1989, with the fall of communism and thus the Berlin wall, it marked a new start for the city. It took a number of years for development to begin, with the reunification of the two halves of Germany a larger priority. In 1999, the areas surrounding the path of the wall began to receive attention and gained new purposes. For Markgrafenstrasse, however, its purpose was returned to that of its origins before the war: publishing.
A local architect to the area, Jo. Franzke, was hired to develop the site at Markgrafenstrasse 15. A group of Berlin’s publishers commissioned the building with the aim of providing offices, meeting rooms and learning spaces for the German publishing industry. Franzke avoided the typical communist style of square buildings and showcased a glass frontage allowing the public to see inside almost every room of the building. This openness being a complete contrast to the controversial and hypocritical methods of publishing under the previous East German government.
Almost 20 years after the construction of the House of the Press was completed, it is still being used for the same purpose. Now almost entirely housing the VDZ (Verband Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger e.V. - Association of German Magazine Publishers) it focusses on educating the current and the next generations of publishers, writers and editors.
It is buildings such as these, that house the new businesses of Berlin, and Germany itself that are providing the city with new opportunities to reach out across the world. Not only by building up the city again after almost 80 years of uncertainty, but remembering those 80 years is a task not easily translated into architecture. It is buildings like the House of the Press that are remembering the history in positive and negative and building on from it.