The ‘pregnant oyster’ is what Berliners supposedly call the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, because of its round, gently curving roof. And there are also hidden pearls to discover inside it. But as appropriate as the nickname might be, no-one actually uses it, because its real name so accurately describes what goes on there.
A house for the arts
An open and cosmopolitan forum for contemporary arts and dialogue, the Haus der Kulturen is home to every form of art from all over the world. It might be theatre or dance, film or literature, readings or exhibitions – or performances mixing different art forms and blurring the boundaries between them. Social and artistic topics are questioned and discussed, and the house is a place for dialogue and for lively, and occasionally heated, discussion. Every February, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt is overrun by a much younger audience, when the Berlinale screens its children’s films in the great auditorium.
The popular summertime open-air spectacle Wassermusik is a musical journey of discovery, each time to a different part of the world. On the terrace looking out to the Spree there are concerts with music that you won’t have heard before, along with films and documentaries.
As a contribution to the IBA international architecture exhibition in 1957, the American architect Hugh Stubbins built the Kongresshalle directly beside the Spree as a symbol of the friendship between the United States and Germany and a forum for free expression of opinions. Its most striking feature was its roof, which seemed to float in thin air and led to the nickname of ‘pregnant oyster’. However, due to structural damage, part of the roof collapsed in 1980, and the building was not restored until 1987, in time for Berlin’s 750 year anniversary. Two years later the Kongresshalle was renamed the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and began its new existence.
For Berlin’s 750 year anniversary, not only was the Kongresshalle restored, but a bell tower was constructed beside it. It is the largest carillon in the world, with 68 bells. Every Sunday at 3 p.m., and on many public holidays there is a concert – played live in the bell tower.
The “Auster” restaurant
The “Auster” restaurant not only has seafood on the menu, but also serves traditional dishes with a glorious view of the Spree. Just the thing to gather strength for the discussion after the event.
Parking at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt
The Haus der Kulturen der Welt does not have its own car park. Limited parking is available on John-Foster-Dulles-Allee. The best option, however, is to come by bus or bike.
You can also come by ship: the Haus der Kulturen der Welt is Berlin’s only event venue with its own riverboat station.