Bauhaus Archive – Museum of Design

Entrance with cafeteria
What essential piece of wisdom did I take away from my visit to the Bauhaus-Archiv yesterday?
Roaming the exhibition halls, merely escorted by the soft English audio guide voices, I was pondering about life and learning and life long learning – and of course, if only briefly, about architecture and design.

The essential piece of wisdom I took with me was that wherever you go and whatever you do, it is good to look at things in a new, in a fresh, in a pure-minded way. Untainted, so to speak, as if human beings were able to ever look at anything in an "untainted" way ... ah, but let's leave this for now and just pretend we could.

For me, the essential of Bauhaus philosophy is to try and look at things in a different way. I will take that with me and hope I'll never forget to apply it to my daily life.

As for the museum: If you go there you absolutely will want to take an audio guide (it's included in the entrance fee). I thought it was great to be informed about so many details while looking at the pictures and design objects. By the way, it is strictly forbidden to take photographs inside the building!

The Bauhaus Archive Museum of Design houses an extensive collection documenting the history and impact of the Bauhaus movement.

The movement started out on April 1, 1919 in Weimar, then relocated to Dessau in 1925 and finally to Berlin in 1932 where it was pressured to close in April 1933 by the National Socialists.

The Nazis denounced the Bauhaus for its – what they called  – "degenerate art" (the nazi term for modern art) and frowned upon its modernist style as un-German, probably influenced by Jews and on top of that a front for communists and social liberals.

Bauhaus Museum Weimar
Bauhaus Movement Weimar


East of Eden

Yes, I like the name, guess why.

This is an independent international second hand bookshop in the very heart of East Berlin. Not really my kinda place, but maybe interesting to check out for some of you.
They seem to have regular events like readings, exhibitions and live music.
When I was there – late afternoon on a weekday – it was deserted. They have all sorts of books in European languages and provide seats to hang out.


Bleibtreustraße Berlin

Yesterday I strolled down "Bleibtreustraße" between Kurfürstendamm and city train station "S Savignyplatz", one of my favorite streets in Berlin, because of the gorgeous house fronts and charming little stores, bars and restaurants.

It was a little cold, though, and annoying slips of paper spoiled almost each of the beautiful doors, announcing that some filming will take place there next week and blabla.

So my hands got quite stiff from all the paper slip removal and shutter release button pushing work. "Bleib treu" means "stay loyal" in English and "reste fidèle" in French. The name stems from the German - I believe not so famous - painter of battle scenes "Georg Bleibtreu" and a lot of the shops incorporated his name into their business names.

This must be Rapunzel's Tower
The street won notoriety when – 40 years ago – in a Chicago-style shoot-out by a German gangster group one Iranian pimp was killed and several wounded.  Subsequently the street was nicknamed "Bleistreustraße" which is kinda hard to translate (I need some help here). So, please learn German to figure out what it means.


Graffiti in Friedrichshain

This graffito found in Friedrichshain reads:
"Everything fine again!! BP buys a new ocean".


GDR Architecture – Frankfurter Tor Towers

Twin Towers at Frankfurter Tor

Two impressive, conspicuous copper-topped towers, reminiscent of the German and French dome cupolas at Gendarmenmarkt, mark the inception of Frankfurter Allee at Frankfurter Tor square.

They are today listed historic monuments of the Stalin era and heritage of GDR times.

The structures alongside the former "Stalinallee" (name given to the  avenue in  1949 for Stalin's 70th birthday) are designed in the  Soviet "wedding-cake" style and were built under the direction of architect Hermann Henselmann between 1951 and 1960 to create a comfortable living environment for East German workers.

As the buildings' huge proportions make it difficult to catch them on photos in their entirety, I recommend Google Street View to get an overall impression of the site.


The Gray and the Colors of East Berlin

Ordinarily, I'm not such a sun loving lady, I prefer cloudy and hazy, but currently, I must admit, Mr. Sun does a great job on the photos.

So, this afternoon I ventured to the East of Berlin and squeezed into the tram from Warschauer Straße to Frankfurter Tor (FYI: you can only find the tram in the eastern parts of the city as rails in the western parts were removed during Berlin's division in favor of other means of transport). 
Occupied house in the East

Crowds of people were eager to get to the same place as me, it seemed. I wondered if they might hand out free beer somewhere on the way, but a lot of people already brought their own, a common habit in this part of the city. People travel around in public transport sucking on bottle-necks ...

When I got out at Frankfurter Tor, a street clown pointed his finger and cheered at me: "Oh, oh, you are an Elf! From Lord of the Rings!"
That was amusing and made me smile for a while.
Backyard sheds with grafitti
When I got back from my photo spree, I had to run to catch the tram, and a young guy who had just left the tram went back there to stand in the door and hold it open for me with a big smile.
That was heart-warming and made me smile for a while as well.

I've done my share of writing for today and am only publishing a few photos. I got material for days to come now, articles will follow.
Debris house with grafitti, Rigaer Straße

BAUHAUS Architecture – One of many Examples

Fancy Bauhaus elevator
Yesterday I stumbled across that gem in the former "Haus der Deutschen Buchdrucker" – and contrary to my settled conviction that I strongly dislike Bauhaus architecture, I see now how beautiful it really is.

Of course this house is only one of the many buildings, building projects and housing estates in Berlin, constructed during the BAUHAUS period.
The Bauhaus school was founded in 1919 by famous architect Walter Gropius in Weimar, and endeavored to bring all arts – including architecture – together, to finally create a synthesis of the arts (Gesamtkunstwerk).

The aim was to bring modernist design in everyday life, to form a consortium where the gap between artist and craftsman was abolished.

Max Taut, the architekt of the Haus der Deutschen Buchdrucker", was like his famous brother Bruno an advocate of what was called "New Objectivity" or "New Sobriety" (Neue Sachlichkeit), a predominantly German movement of the 1920s and 1930s, forcibly stopped by the Nazi seizure of power in 1933.

Elevator interior with wooden bench
Groundfloor Haus der Deutschen Buchdrucker
Bauhaus staircase
Bauhaus tiling


Şehitlik Mosque – Berlin Türk Şehitlik Camii

Şehitlik Mosque with Cemetery
As the weather today was almost obtrusively serene and sunny, I decided this was the right time to take a few more pics of Berlin's fairytale-like, most fabulous mosque: The Turkish Şehitlik Mosque.

I published a little article about it here on my blog in October 2009, but that day I had forgotten to charge my camera's battery, so I could only take a few precious photos. Now I took a whole load of pics and the weather was my friend.


The premises consist of a cultural center and a mosque. The upper floor of the cultural center features a big terrace and a building element half the size of the ground floor. 

The mosque itself is comprised of four stories: A multipurpose hall in the basement, a prayer room on the ground floor, the mosque on the third floor and a gallery where the women usually pray.
Main prayer language is Turkish, occasionally Arabic and on Fridays prayers are read in German, too.

A brazen plaque right beside the entrance gate explains the origin of the cemetery in Turkish and German. For a short explanation visit my October 2009 article.

Here is the Turkish text:
"Berlin'de ikinci Türk Mezarliği olarak 1866 yilinda Sultan Abdulaziz zamaninda kurulmuştur. 1798 yilinda tesis olunan ilk Türk Kabristanindaki mevtalar buraya taşinmişlardir.

Mezarlari nakledilen, Prusya'da Osmanli Sefiri iken, 29 Ekim 1798 de vefat eden devlet adami, şair ve tasavvuf eri Giritli Ali Aziz Efendi ile diğer dört merhum adina 1867 yilinda kurulan abide, 1988 de Berlin Senatosu tarafindan Diyanet İşleri Türk-İslam Birliği'nin işbirliği ile tamir edilmiştir.

1920-1921 yillarinda şehitliğin ihyasinda Osmanli Büyük Elçiliği eski imami, Hafiz Şükrü Efendi 'nin büyük emeği geçmiştir. Caminin iki minareli bugünkü şekli Türk işçilerinin katkilariyla gerçekleştirilmiştir."

Official Site of Şehitlik Mosque in German language