About Berlin Layers

The Background

Every city’s got stories. Rome has the Romans, New York has the skyscrapers, and London has the Empire. For me, Berlin is the story. Its streets, its (shitty) architecture, its restored cultural monuments: they’re more than landmarks. They’re the stretch marks, scars, amputations, and regrowths of a city that has, to put it bluntly, seen some shit.

Berlin has, literally, layers of history: buildings, streets, entire neighborhoods have been torn down, rebuilt, re-configured, destroyed again in seemingly endless cycles of destruction and renewal.

Take, for example, the Berliner Schloss: originally built in the 15th century, it became the main residence of the Prussian royal family, and then of the German Kaisers. It was damaged during WWII, torn down by the Soviets in the 1950s, and in its place the East German authorities built the Palace of the Republic, one of the central administrative buildings of the DDR. That building was torn down after German reunification in the early 1990s, and now a modern replica of the Baroque-era palace is being built to replace it. And that’s just one building.

THe Idea

Berlin Layers is a space to explore these layers of Berlin’s culture, history, and urban structure. I’m interested in how past events continue to shape our lives, from mundane stuff like “why is this u-bahn station here, and not around the corner?” to larger questions like “why on earth did they spend so much money rebuilding the Schloss”?