ICC Messe Grüne Woche-9701


The ICC Berlin belongs to the 70s era of postwar German architecture that can be considered "New Brutalism". Here are a few shots of the beloved spaceship.
4 Feb ’16 by Sara Architecture

One of my favorite buildings in Berlin is the International Congress Centrum, also known as ICC Berlin. It is a monstrosity wrapped in tin foil, straight out of an invasion movie. In typical Berlin megalomania, it is one of the largest congress buildings in the world, finished construction in 1979 and is now, unfortunately, without perspective.

… and I mean that literally: just as well as Tempelhof, the ICC Berlin is also currently used as shelter for refugees. Why would they shut down such a magnificent building, you wonder? Because it’s too expensive to maintain. It needs a lot of work done and nobody is willing to sacrifice millions of Euro for something that is apparently not worth it. Thankfully, nobody is talking about tearing it down, which would be an catastrophe in my eyes. My beloved spaceship: a relict of a very specific architectural era in Berlin.

Like the 23 story building of the Rentenversicherungsbund on Hohenzollerndamm, the Bierpinsel (which was also built by the ICC architect Ralf Schüler) and the “Evangelisches Konsistorium” in Hansaviertel (torn down in 2011), the ICC belongs to a very special post-war phase of construction and design of the 70s. Unlike other brutalist buildings (like St. Agnes church), the ICC does not compel with raw concrete. The spaceship is counted to the brutalist architecture movement by spirit, rather than consistent definition (the definition of brutalism is pretty inconsistent, to be honest; many would consider this building part of a “New Brutalism” style, just like the Czech Embassy): the alienating, bleak and massive construction is not friendly or inviting. Some people consider brutalism to be the designed counter-culture to the hysterically cheerful cityscape of the 40s and 50s.

The building is poisoned with asbestos (just like the Palast der Republik, another relict of postwar German architecture that has disappeared after clearance).

Two comments

  1. Well, it was meant to be torn down – mostly on grounds of dwindling revenues, skyrocketing maintenance costs and some asbestos here and there. There was also a tender for a new ICC, but the authorities reconsidered a few years ago and developed many plans for the future: a shopping center (another!), the city’s library, a remote terminal for BER, flats… you name it, they considered it. The latest plan is to refurbish it in parts, mostly keep it a convention center but also rent some space for hotels, restaurants, shops and the likes.

  2. I should’ve clarified that, thank you. I am sure Berlin needs another mall. Although it makes sense to use it as another terminal for BER. It could be the only one functioning haha.