Monday, December 19, 2011

Reichstag II

Sorry for the delay on this. Having good reliable Internet is such a blessing. So without further ado, we'll continue with our original post of the Reichstag.

Instead of a very clear separation of church and state the Germans opt to be more inclusive. Within the Reichstag is a non denominational room where people of all or no faiths can go to pray, meditate, or just be quite. The cross on the ambiguous alter can be removed if you like for example.

The art on the walls loosely represents: Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, and "Other." You might think the line in the floor isn't square, but actually it was designed that way to be perpendicular to Mecca.

Some really neat artifacts, which include this shall from the Dali Lama. These artifacts were housed just outside the room.

Although German's want to move past the dark spots of WWII, they also want to remember. Notice the various bullet holes that adorn this archway. Amazing to think a handful of years ago the Soviets were pressing hard around this very building.

Art is something that is embraced quite a bit at the Reichstag. This instillation is numerous mailboxes, one for each member of parliament.

The tag has their name, the party (or parties) they were associated with, and when they served. Members of the National Socialist Party are given an extra black label.

The artist, of French decent, really struggled if she would include Adolf's mailbox or not. On one side he was a voted it member. On the other... In the end she decided to include him. Although she herself was heavily affected by this man's actions, she choose to be inclusive, and rise above what transpired. Feels very German. To acknowledge, learn, and move past. Unfortunately Hitler's mailbox continues to be vandalized by visitors. They keep fixing it, but it doesn't take long before it gets kicked in again.

One black mailbox is included to mark the years of Nazi reign.

The architecture in this building was really quite wonderful. What you see here are the offices of the various members of parliament. Each person gets the exact same size office. Doesn't matter what position you hold, from top dog to newly elect everyone is equal.

This was an American art instillation. Kind of neat in that what is scrolling is segments of speeches about rights, and freedoms of the German people. If you wanted to read all of them, it would take you months to do so.

We got to sit in one of these boxes inside the parliament. Anyone can come in, but you must behave or be tossed out. Oh, and the blue that is the chairs is copyrighted so nobody else can use that exact blue. It's the official Reichstag blue!

One of the biggest draws to the Reichstag is the glass dome that sits on top of it. I think this is arguably the most stunning architecture I've been in. These pictures don't really do it justice, but was really fun to take lots of photos.

You can get to the roof to see the dome up close.

Inside, you can climb the spiral walkway all the way to the top. A free audio-guide is available to describe all the parts of the city you can look out on.

In the middle of the above photo you can see a shade. This shade moves in correlation to the sun. That way when the sun hits all those mirrors in the middle it doesn't cause a lot of glare. Great example of German engineering and thinking things through.

At the very top the dome is open. So when it rains, it rains inside. The water is collected in this central container thingy and used to flush the toilets. Lots of resource reuse. They can put the dome in "cool" or "heat" mode which changes the way it circulates the air.

Looking down you can see (sorry for the glare) into the middle of the Reichstag. This looks right into the room with all the copyright blue chairs where parliament sits. Not only does it provide a great source of light for the room, but more importantly it symbolizes a transparent government. All citizens can come up here any day they want and peer over the shoulders of their elected officials. Apparently when it opened it brought tears to the eyes of Germans. Now that's saying something!

As the sun sets we walk back down the dome and head on out. For me this dome is a very good lesson to learn. The architect, Norman Foster, really didn't want to build the dome. He fought hard not to do it, but in the end had to. Within a few years, the Reichstag has become Norman's crown jewel of his architecture career. Makes me really think hard about how hard I fight against doing certain designs and work.


  1. Wow that dome is amazing. Seems like the whole building is a facinating blend of old and new.

  2. Gerry, very much so. From pre-war architecture, to bullet holes, to modern instalments like the dome and various art pieces inside. Very nice example of the many times Germany blends old and new so well.