On 26 May the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof was inaugurated. One of the most spectacular engineering feats that took place was the laying of a steel bridge that crosses the station across. Because of the risk posed by building it as the station was crowded with people, it was decided to run for a weekend in which the station was closed to the public for 54 hours. Then the structure was built in two parts vertically and 1,200 tons each, and then joined as a drawbridge. Rather than describing this wonderful technical and architectural achievement myself, I prefer to let ‘Master’ Meinhard Von Gerkan do the talking. (interview dates from 2006).
What makes the new station so special?
“Primarily the fact that it marks the center of Germany. It’s a railway interchange station which links east and west in the middle of Europe. What sets the architectural structure apart is the fact you’re in a spatial continuum where two tracks that are 25 meters apart actually converge, one of them 15 meters underground, the other ten meters above ground. Then there’s so much space throughout the building. You can grasp the station’s function both optically and atmospherically and retain your bearings. It’s the first station of its kind in the world. It’s also a very striking landmark.”
What aspects of the project are you particularly proud of?
We’re very pleased that we managed to reach a symbiosis of construction, form and function. It’s a perfect fusion of construction and architecture that might well be unprecedented. It isn’t a building with a facade and a roof — it’s more seamless. Every single detail is also a constructive factor. Its structural elements, which derive from steel construction and integrated glass and solar plant in the ceiling, make it a piece of materialized technology.
Do you have a favorite station?
Central Station in New York is my favorite, because the urban setting is an integral part of the station and the station an integral part of the urban setting.
About the Author:
Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.