Remember the Zoo Palast? The one next to the Bahnhof Zoo? Some of those who’ve been here a while know that this used to be a swell cinema with a story reaching back to the 1920s. Although it was destroyed in WWII, today the facade and the cinema halls on ground & first floor are under monument protection. The Zoo Palast was rebuilt in the late 50s, sporting quite an interesting architecture. Embedded in the stale environment of the Bahnhof Zoo, it used to be a prominent building. Most charming were the exclusively hand-drawn movie posters for every premiere.
Unfortunately, the Zoo Palast had to be shut down in 2010. The lease was up. Nowadays, the scenery is taken by a vast construction site. Did I ever mention my knack for construction sites? I think I said it before, but the whole concept is like an open surgery on the infrastructure of the citys guts. Fascinating to say the least. Next to the Zoo Palast used to be the Bikinihaus, a quite hideous complex, also under protection, which basically separated the Zoo from Budapester Straße and the Breitscheidplatz with its Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche. The name derives from its architecture, basically being two different parts and therefore resembling a Bikini (I don’t get it).
Both the Zoo Palast and the former culturally and commercially intact Bikinihaus are going to be remodeled within the next two years. I haven’t quite grasped the concept of the new “Bikini Berlin”, to be honest. I suppose it’s going to be a sleek and expensive super-mall of some sorts. How obnoxious of them to go and figure that a commercial use for this essential landmark of Berlin is going to be the best use.
I seriously have no idea how a newly constructed building atop of what used to be a perfectly fine piece of history is more of an “urban oasis” than the Zoo in its back or any park. See, I’m quite relieved they’re restricting their remodeling of Berlin to the City West (mostly). And yet I can’t refrain from thinking “oh my God why is everybody an idiot”. It makes me roll my eyes til they touch the back of my head. This is so Berlin.
Let’s save the personal judgement of political and economical decisions for another day. I’m quite excited to see how the buildings and complexes will change the landscape between Hardenberg– and Breitscheidplatz. Bikini Berlin will also be host to a brand new 25Hours Hotel, a very popular design hotel chain with franchises in Hamburg, Frankfurt and other cities. To create an “urban oasis” in the meantime, the makers of the hotel have decided to go with a mobile burger diner called “Burger De Ville” which serves good burgers right in the surgery room of our future temple of consumerism.
The container type arrangement and temporary use of the space reminds me of Londons very own Shoreditch Boxpark. Then I figured that comparing anything in Berlin to anything in London usually makes Berlin look bad so we’ll just leave it at that. Go & try the burgers (and those flamboyant fries with parmesan cheese and garlic and other fancy stuff — quite the Bikini Berlin spirit there!) and let’s look forward to the opening of the Zoo Palast in 2013 (unless it ends up as ridiculously delayed as the airport. I’m kind of even hoping for that. It would make for a great international joke).