The design for the new visitor and information center at the Bundestag in Berlin, the German parliament’s lower house, responds to the increased safety requirements for government buildings with an open declaration. This massive walk-in sculpture is a building that belongs to the Reichstag as a monument, but at the same time encourages a lively dialogue with visitors.
The design makes reference to its social, cultural and functional potential – a three-dimensional manifesto of openness that conveys accessibility and affiliation. With this basic understanding of its role, the new visitor and information center guides and directs roughly two million visitors per year along protected and yet fluid paths to the main attraction: present-day German parliamentary politics, history and the built environment.
The building becomes sculptural thanks to its interior core that unfolds as an open spiral. It winds its way in one continuous ramp at a slight inclination through all levels from top to bottom. As a three-dimensional sculpted shape, the spiral offers all visitors a continuous path no matter what speed they travel. There are no spatial boundaries, the design prioritizes equal access for all visitors – literally a “barrier-free” building. With its spiral, the center’s architecture makes spatial, structural and iconographic reference to the glass dome of the Reichstag – as a male mold to its female counterpart, the two buildings complement one another. After visitors have entered through the security gate in the foyer, they have the option to follow the spiral ramp either up or down. The exhibit space is configured in an easy-to-understand way and framed by the access ramp. On its way up, the ramp leads to a café, the seminar and waiting rooms as well as a roof terrace overlooking the Reichstag building and the Berlin Zoo. On its way down, the ramp passes by the plenary chamber and leads through the communication forum and the video screening room to the underground walkway connecting the visitor and information center with the Reichstag building.
Competition 2016, honorable mention
Investor: Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit
Gross floor area: 7416 m²
Gross volume: 36164 m³
Vogeley, Philipp (Lead)
Prof. Dietrich, Carola (Lead)
Knippers Helbig GmbH, Stuttgart (Structural design)
hhpberlin, Munich (Fire proofing)
Schüller Landschaftsarchitekten, Munich (Landscape design)
Mathhes Max Modellbau GmbH, Munich (Model making)
Bloomimages, Hamburg (Visualization)