Architectural Design Competition: Topography of Terror. Berlin

Exhibition of the 309 competition entries

10 March to 17 April 2006

This exhibition is devoted to the open, international architectural design competition for the Topography of Terror, for which 309 firms and teams of architects and landscape architects submitted entries. Initiated by the German government, the competition was decided in January 2006. All the schemes, plans and models, including the four prize-winning entries, will be on display.

Every year some 400,000 people visit the Topography of Terror, making it one of the most frequented museums / memorial sites in Berlin. Located where the Secret State Police (Gestapo), the SS and the Reich Security Main Office had their headquarters during the Third Reich (1933-45), the Topography of Terror has served since 1987 as a source of information on the key institutions of the persecution and terror apparatus operated by the Nazis. The permanent exhibition it has set up alongside the architectural remains on Niederkirchnerstraße underlines the European dimension of the National Socialist reign of terror.

The purpose of the competition was, firstly, to produce an integrated conceptual programme for the Topography of Terror site with its physical remains of the buildings occupied by the Nazi perpetrators and, secondly, a new documentation centre appropriate to the national and international significance of this historic location in the heart of the capital.

In view of the fact that the results of the competitions held in 1983/84 and 1992/93 were not realized, the competition remit included a plan for the design of the site as a ‘main exhibit’ in its own right plus a scheme for a functional exhibition building suitable for educational and research purposes.

First prize went to the architectural firm of Heinle, Wischer und Partner (Ursula Wilms, Berlin) and Heinz W. Hallmann landscape architects (Aachen). The winners were quoted as saying that the form and location of the building for the documentation centre constituted a response to the nearby Martin-Gropius-Bau, while its formulation as square, single-storey cube represented an unambiguously neutral attitude to the historical events that had taken place at the site.

Second prize went to the entry submitted by the architects, Ramsi Kusus and Karin Melcher, and Frank Kiessling landscape architects (Berlin). The panel of judges also agreed on two fourth prizes and four merit awards. The jury that came together on 24 January 2006 to decide on the 23 entries remaining after the first round of the competition consisted of seven officials, including five architects and two landscape architects, as well as assessors made up of representatives of the Federal Government, the State of Berlin and the Topography of Terror Foundation.

Organizer: Topography of Terror Foundation and Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning