Old and New: Berlin Spring

10 April 2011
Ben Pentreath

Sorry (to regular readers) for not posting for a little while. Not just because we wanted to join Princess Anne in admiring her rowers… not only that… but also because it’s just been one of those pretty busy times.

A couple of weeks ago the architecture office made a quick trip to Berlin. We’ve had such a busy last year that this was a small way of saying thanks to every one who has worked so hard. We were met by beautiful spring sunshine. Berlin at her best. I spent the days getting lost in Mitte. I don’t know about you… I love Berlin. The city is a bit like some steely grey relative who you are always somewhat fearful of going to stay with, but remember why you love them so much as soon as you arrive.

A highlight was the newly opened Neues Museum and its extraordinary transformation by David Chipperfield. The quality of work is incredible—almost unbelievable until, a few hours later, I came across a small building site for a basic new apartment building on Linienstrasse. Have you ever seen such a tidy site? No you have not. Welcome to Germany.

And alongside the great classical set pieces, I have as much pleasure in finding a ‘Gipsy Restaurant’ on a vacant lot, or wandering the places and streets not yet done up.  It is hard to make old and new sit as comfortable neighbours. Berlin knows how.

4 comments on this post

Ben, this brought back memories. I was living in Germany during most of the 1990’s (civilian employee of the U.S. Army) and visited Berlin shortly after the wall came down. It was amazing to roam the old neighborhoods of the former East Berlin. Thanks for sharing.

next time, come by and visit us! the fliegerviertel, by the tempelhof aiprort park, where we just reno’d a round house from the 20s with the corner fireplace, is like a little patch of england in kreuzberg (and did you go inside the building of that gypsy restaurant at night? it’s claerchen’s ballhaus, a gorgeous old crumbling ballroom upstairs leftover from the GDR…)


Well I never – I come back from Berlin (staying in Mitte and taking a sneak peak at that very Gypsy Restaurant – incredible interior upstairs and down), eager to catch up on your posts and what do I find?? One of life’s little coincidences…


That is crazy! Great minds clearly think alike….!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.