Inspiration

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CP Loves... The glass dome of the Reichstag.

Published

by Ashley Morrison


One of Berlin's most impressive buildings was actually British designed: the extraordinary glass dome sitting atop the Reichstag, built by Sir Norman Foster.

I'll be honest, I was surprised to learn that the Germans asked a Brit to build it; Berlin is hardly short of impressive German-designed modern structures. But it is true that none of them compare in any way to the genius behind the design of the dome.

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Symbolising the reunification of Berlin, and deliberately futuristic to represent a moving forward and the leaving behind of Nazism, it is now one of Berlin's most visited landmarks. Built in 1993, and constructed directly over the debating chamber of the Bundestag, it provides spectacular views across the parliamentary and government district, as well as Berlin's numerous landmarks. All this is interestingly explained during the location-activated audioguide which accompanies you up the 230-metre long spiral ascent to the top, where the slightly disconcerting open-air void allows rain to be channeled down and away from the viewing platform through what is, among other things, a giant funnel.


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When I first saw it, my immediate reaction was that the dome is reminiscent of the glass pyramids outside the Louvre in Paris, which caused quite a stir when they were built in 1984 - some people bemoaning the desecration of the classical architecture with what they saw to be a grotesque affront to traditionalism.

I personally love the juxtaposition of classical and modernist (when it's done well, at least) and the Reichstag's dome falls firmly into this category.

 

 

 

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But much more than an impressive feat of engineering, Foster was keen to make his structure environmentally friendly too. Hundreds of solar panels line the roof of the Reichstag, and the spectacular mirrored cone in the centre acts as a solar deflector, directing the sun - and therefore the power source - on to the panels.

As a result, the Reichstag is, I believe, completely solar powered, dramatically decreasing its carbon emissions.

 

 

 

 

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Foster was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1999, recognising the great vision of his brave design. It is now one of Berlin's must-sees.

 

Ashley Morrison is a blogger, copywriter and editor.
Twitter: @Ashley_Morrison

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