Berlin Wall Competition

To commemorate Berlin’s 750th anniversary, Mythos Berlin Ausstellung GMBH and the magazine Asthetik und Kommunikation sponsored an international planning competition, calling for entries that would articulate new ideas and propose new concepts for an urbanization and careful integration of the Berlin Wall into the existing cityscape.  The following text accompanied submission of this design.

As the Berlin Wall goes, so goes Berlin.  When the wall was constructed in 1961 it cleaved a city that had previously been whole into two distinct parts.  The power of that rupture, simultaneously signifying ideological, as well as physical, disjunction, has thrown the two Berlins into opposition and provoked continuous commentary.  Foreign heads of state have proclaimed “Ich bin eine Berliner,” people have died attempting its crossing, and graffiti has claimed one side as its own even as the other remains pristine.

At the second millennium, while the wall will be altered to accommodate passage, the physical memory of scar of the construction, which — as with any wound — bears the trace of original pain, will remain.  It will become a linear clay-graveled park with four rows of sycamore trees; a canal that will delimit the precinct immediately adjacent to both sides of the wall; and Jachin and Boaz, the two freestanding columns of the Temple of Solomon as described in Kings 1:5, which will be located on axis with the Brandenburg gate.  Thus Berlin will emerge as a new Eden, with the canals extending north and south towards the four rivers irrigating forests in both directions: that which separates in the past, irrigates in the future.  The columns are metaphors for the two trees in the center of paradise.

The Edenic myth if perpetually denied, with the cleaving of paradise serving as a reminder of the futility of holistic thought.  The wound that was inscribed in 1961 is as irreparable as the one that occurred in paradise.  Neither memory can be erased; the palimpsest remains.  Nonetheless, the process of healing begins with the breaching of the Berlin Wall.  It is the innocence of being that enables one to engage in this attempt.