The relation between history and present
In one of the many Berlin tourists, did ever ask himself if the proximity between the optical appearance of the Federal Chancellery and the Old Reich Chancellery is just coincidence or if it was planned that way by the former chancellor Helmut Kohl? Or did he give the architect complete freedom in the design of the building which contains the apartment and the office of the Chancellor? Is it just a coincident that the Federal Chancellery looks like the Old Reich Chancellery in Wilhelmstrasse 77?
It is a fact that the Federal Chancellery with its high central part, its lower side wings, the fenced off court of honor and its canopy looks like an homage to the Old Reich Chancellery, the building were all the Reich Chancellors used to live and work from 1878 to 1945. This example shows that history cannot be changed later by demolishing buildings. By doing so, it becomes more difficult to understand the present and its relation to the past.
The interaction between architecture and German history using the example of the Reich Chancellery
By definition, architecture is the artistic additions made to the structural base of a building which is not actually necessary for the building's functionality.
Therefore, the architecture of a building defines how the owner would like to be seen in public. Architecture has a lot to do with personal taste and its often used to discard structural problems of the building as well as to improve its qualities by using expensive materials or labor-intensive artwork for decorations. The Reich Chancellery is a good study object for the different use of architecture and its development between 1736 until today. The building was, besides her historically importance, also a place where famous architects left their mark. Konrad Wiesend and Karl Friedrich Schinkel created the first building which was later used as the Old Reich Chancellery. The Architects Wilhelm Neumann, Ernst von Ihne, Eduard Jobst Siedler, Paul Ludwig Troost, Leonhard Gall and Albert Speer created later the architectural stage for the German chancellors to present the German Reich by extending the former Palace Radziwill into the Chancellery of the German Reich.
But it was these architects too who created the architectural stage which helped optically underlining the need for power the German Chancellors used to have to present themselves to the world inside this building. For that reason an architectural analyses of the changes made to the building by the different chancellors help to understand the different characters of the residents.
Need of a scientific examination
Up to now there has never been an official attempt by German scientists to investigate the construction history of the Reich Chancellery. Since that fact does not reduce the public interest in the building, they left the historical examination mainly to the international TV- productions who often mix reality with fiction just to generate a wider audience and more “Likes”. Because of that the building has been transfigured into a myth and it has been reduced to its role alone to the time during the Nazi- era and the place of Adolf Hitler’s bunker, were he committed suicide.
The historical importance of the building and its residences like Count Schulenburg, Radziwill, Bismarck and Ebert on the world stage is ignored just to go again and again on the hunt of Adolf Hitler and to look for secret tunnels and bunkers.
Through the 3D reconstruction of the building it will be possible in future to place historical events better in order to compare historical facts with fiction generated by the media during the past years. Now it will be possible to check testimonies and reports of eyewitnesses, authors and journalists. Comparing them with facts, found at the historically correct recreated grounds of the Chancellery, will shade a different light on many stories told by eyewitness and media before. Traveling back in time and actually walking through this historic building, helps one understand the history and the architecture in a new way because it makes the time traveler an eyewitness himself to a long past era.
A 3D- reconstruction of the Reich Chancellery as experimental archeology
The example of the Reich Chancellery shows how difficult it is to understand historic site just by looking at old construction plans or photographs. There are countless reports of journalists, books of authors or documentaries created by TV stations trying to tell the history of the building. But only a few of this publications even mention that the construction history of the Chancellery dates back to the year of 1733. But ignoring that fact it is not possible to understand the changes and extensions made to the building by the different Reich Chancellors.
The author of the project, presented here, came to this conclusion because he went through the trouble of recreating the entire building in a 3D- reconstruction. During this process the 3D- model of the chancellery became not just an object used to create images from but more an independent scientific work project, similar to a project done for experimental archeology. During the work on the project Christoph Neubauer was able to refute many theses about the construction history of the chancellery published before by different authors. This is because recreating the building by historical plans and comparing it with photographs during the recreation process it is possible to recognize if a plan has been used for the actual construction or was only a draft or a plan drawn later in time. The process of the 3D – reconstruction also proved that such reconstruction work can not only be left in the hands of graphic designers. This is because a designer often does not have a scientific view on the topic and therefore tends to exaggerate specific parts of a building to make it look more interesting for the audience.
The project waived therefore on any design effects, it is focusing alone on a detailed and historically correct reconstruction.