With the Bundestag's 1995 decision to move the Federal Government from Bonn to Berlin, the new construction of government buildings was a necessity. With the exception of the Reichstag and the Swiss embassy, the old government district between the Tiergarten and the Spree river was left in rubble after the Second World War. This left much room for the ideas of well-known architects to construct modern, prestigious government buildings that are adapted to the standards of today and the needs of tomorrow.
Connection from the West to the East
The original notion behind the “Band des Bundes“ (literally, the Band of the Federation) was the conceptualization of a connective gesture between the former East and former West sides of the city. The building complex was to consist of three parts: the Bundestag office buildings, >[link]the Marie Elisabeth Lüders House (located on the former East's strip of the Berlin Wall) and the Paul Löbe House, and the Federal Chancellery located on a site that belonged to former West Berlin's Tiergarten district.
An architectural competition of unprecedented size
Before construction began in 1995, the government held a request for proposals that was then the largest worldwide bid invitation ever for the design of public buildings: 835 architecture firms applied for the job to design Germany's new government district. Included in the winners of this application were well-known architects such as Sir Norman Foster as well as local Berlin firms.
Berlin's new “washing machine“
The most striking building of the “Band des Bundes“ is the Federal Chancellery building, constructed between 1997 and 2001 under the direction of architects Charlotte Frank and Axel Schultes in close cooperation with former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl – due to its round form, Berliners fondly refer to it as the “washing machine.“
The federal buildings are not only the geographic center of Berlin – since 2006, these distinctive, modern buildings made of raw concrete and glass are the welcome sign to Berlin's visitors who arrive at the nearby Hauptbahnhof.