For those who want to take in history, design, and nightlife, Berlin is the place. Visiting and want to take in some of the sights and sounds? Or on a trip for the Bauhaus centennial? The city has something to offer everyone, and AN has compiled a list of what those with design on the brain should check out.
The Chipperfield Kantine
10119 Berlin Mitte
The office of English architect David Chipperfield is inside of a converted piano factory in Mitte. The redbrick building sits behind a spare, bright white courtyard where the architect has designed a beautifully detailed concrete box that also houses the restaurant Kantine. A reasonably priced menu of fresh local products served on spare Chipperfield-designed tableware—it is the best lunch spot in the city.
Schwedter Strasse 9
This store is a fantasyland of objects for architects and designers. Its owners, Michel Vincenot and Sabine Riedel, source lighting, seating, storage, tables, and graphics by preeminent European designers of the 20th century: Carlo Scarpa, Gio Ponti, Achille Castiglioni, Christian Dell, and German designers from the Bauhaus. This Wilhelm Wagenfeld glass tea service is 200 euros (approximately $233).
Oderberger Strasse 57
A Neo-Renaissance-style hotel over a 19th-century public swimming pool makes this a very Berlin experience. It’s reasonably priced, and surrounded by cafes, bars, the trendy shopping street Kastanienallee, and Mauerpark. The park is also a unique “free park” where all sorts of public gatherings go on through the night, and the grass is untended, as Berliners don’t want chemicals used to maintain any public landscape.
Topography of Terror
Berlin has multiple reminders of its fraught and charged history. Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum are powerful design statements, but equally powerful and less well known is the Topography of Terror Museum. On the site of what was once the headquarters of the Nazi Secret State Police, SS, and Reich Security, it was designed in 2010 by Ursula Wilms and landscape architect Heinz Hallmann. It is a truly frightening architectural experience.
The Paris Bar
A bright red neon sign over the entrance announces The Paris Bar, the legendary Charlottenburg late night art bar. Its walls are covered with art from its regular patrons. Several years ago, it had to auction off its Martin Kippenberger for $3 million to pay back taxes. It’s the Odeon of Berlin, and its steak frites are the best in the city—but unlike its New York counterpart, it can’t make a decent martini.
Pauly Saal at Jewish School for Girls
Alexander Beer was the chief architect for the Jewish community of Berlin, and in 1927 he designed a girls’ school at Auguststrasse 11-13 in Mitte. It is a rare example of the modernist Neue Sachlichkeit style, with beautifully crafted materials. The school was eventually closed, Beer died in a concentration camp, and the building was confiscated by the government. The school was repurposed in 2012 as the Center for Art and Dining Culture, which is open to the public. Besides art galleries, it holds a New York delicatessen, Mogg & Melzer, and the pricey but excellent Pauly Saal Restaurant.