If you want to know more about Lord Norman Foster's contribution towards Germany, then, this book would be it. It tells you all you need to know about Reichstag, probably the most controversial building ever built in the history of Germany. Along the way, you get to learn more about Germany as a country. This book was well presented with high quality pictures abound, taken by several prominent photographers of all aspects & angles of Reichstag, pictures of Lord Foster's previous works (to understand his way of seeing things), pictures of Reichstag's past and present (to let us appreciate how far that building has gone through). Moreover, to enhance diversity & to understand Reichstag from many prespectives, Norman Foster invited several scholars to complement his own writings. The final result was simply spectacular. I wouldn't find this book academic. Rather, I found it highly entertaining & I came out of it a better knowledgeable person. Definitely a must-have for architecture enthusiast or if you want to have a cerebral hard bound book to display on top of your coffee table. Among the highlights of the book was reading about the competition stage, about Lord Foster pitching against other international superarchitects (such as Santiago Calatrava) and local architects from Germany, & of his reservation if Germany was sincere towards its invitation of international people other than Germans to participate or the whole thing was just for show; his emphasis of 4 points, ie. Parliament being intertwined with Reichstag's history, an understanding of the institution & its inner workings, economics in terms of meeting the budget in the restoration of Reichstag & the savings achieved through reduced running costs via technology advancement & clever planning, & lastly the emphasis on energy ecology by using sustainable environment friendly for sources of energy other than its reliance on fossil fuels- reinforcing Germany's image as the country that takes the lead in fostering better technology that would reduce the unfavourable impacts towards our fragile environment; a project all on its own for Lord Foster to design the eagle or better known as the "fat hen" that signified Germany; Lord Foster's involvement with avantgarde artists such as Jenny Holzers (American), Christian Boltanski (French), Gerhard Richter & Sigmar Polke (German) & many others -reminding readers that Reichstag is not merely acting as a Parliament but also as an important Art Gallery (3% of the construction cost of the building, already 1% higher than the norm); the evolving stage of deriving the iconic dome, which was deemed as a 'boiled egg' by some critics at one stage but eventually, being deemed as the icon that all Germans are proud with in the end; Lord Foster's invitation of Danish graphic artist, Per Arnoldi to look into colour coordination of the place; the intensity (at times, heartbreak) but effectiveness of constant dialogues with the Building Committees, the techniques used in the restoration process re the graffitis left behind by the Allies armies after WW2, Claude Engle (lighting consultant)'s invaluable contribution of the lighting design by channelling xenon lights towards the cone & thus, channelling them through all corners of German, symbolising the democracy at work & spreading thru all corners of the land, & so forth. The book also contained a proper Reichstag's chronology, end credits, postscripts to bombard us with even more information. Lord Foster stressed the significance of getting in touch with the past, to live the present, & anticipate the future with optimism, sensitivity towards the history of a building to come up with a building solution that is appropriate for its time rather than having to resort to brutal reconstruction, the necessity of having transparency & lightness interior in contrast with the solid mass exterior to show the passage of time & the changes made in terms of thinking. Highly recommended.
I recently spent a month in Europe. I was suprised after visiting Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, and London- that Berlin emerged as my favorite place.... that despite what I thought beforehand, I left my heart in Berlin, not Prague.
I only went to Berlin because I studied many historical events that took place there, and Berlin was the epicenter of The Cold War! West Berlin was THE capitalist showpiece and East Berlin was THE communist showpiece. United, Berlin will become (when all the construction has been completed) Europe's showpiece and greatest city- WITHOUT A DOUBT.
This book is the story of the awesome history of Berlin, a history that seems more embedded in tragedy than triumph. But, alas, Berlin has survived two devastating wars and the harsh reality of the WALL. Now, it is Berlin's turn. It's Berlin's turn to show the world what a magnificant place she was, is, and will become.
The Rebuilding of the Reichstag not only talks about the post-Wall renovations, but illustrates in great detail the history of the building, and thus the history of Berlin- you are taken on a journey of the history of a city and it's people....the people of Berlin who always seem to have to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and begin again. In this book, the Reichstag shares with you what she has witnessed. You are there in 1945 witnessing the hollow shell of the war damaged Reichstag. You are there witnessing the division of the city as the Wall ran directly behind the building. You are there witnessing the divisions end as the wall comes tumbling down, and you are witness to the jubilation outside the Reichstag upon German unification.
After reading through this great book, I realized what a centerpiece to Berlin's history the Reichstag truly is. It's not just a parliament building- it's Berlin! The Reichstag speaks for Berlin's history. The fate of the Reichstag seems to run parallel to that of Berlin. What has happened to the Reichstag has happened to Berlin.
This book is full of awesome illustrations, from grand photos, to models, to architectural plans. Not only does it show the evolution of the Reichstag- it shows various plans for the building from the beginning and throughout its history. That is perhaps the most interesting part- the plans that people came up with. It's really too bad the "Big Roof" idea didn't pan out- because it would have been truly awe inspiring.
Even if you are only interested in architecture and have no interest in history- this book is still definitely for you.
That is why this book is so great.... I thought upon first seeing it, it would be pure architecture... it is pure architecture, but Foster has managed to capture something huge and so great. Foster has managed to capture Berlin.... a city on the verge of finally becoming.