Sausages at the Alexanderplatz – Shopping Center Alexa

by Magdalena Rihakova

I am taking the S-Bahn from Friedrichstraße and enjoying the view. Even though the Museum Island is currently under reconstruction, it is still a very impressive scene. Everything in Berlin has a clear structure and visible reason; I keep on celebrating the architects and urban planners of Berlin… but accidentally…WHAT?? That red unfinished building is still there!?

I know I owe you clarification.

A few years ago, I went to Berlin as a tourist. I definitely fell in love with the city. I was impressed by huge buildings with pale facades and thousands of narrow windows. I liked the system of Berlin architecture – clear, understandable, and very German. No useless decorations, everything has its own function making one cohesive whole. There was just one part that I found a bit disappointing. It was the Alexanderplatz. It is a windy square with tall concrete buildings with no atmosphere, full of teenagers hoping for a bargain at Primark. At the corner there was a construction site, behind the fence there was something sausage-colored peeping out. I thought that it was just an unflattering color of heat isolation.

Apparently, I was wrong. Alexa has opened, which means that its architects consider it finished and complete. My feelings about the building are not pleasant at all. Not just due to strange sausage/strawberry color, but the golden sharp cloud above the entrance seems to be prepared to fall at you and make a sausage out of you. Gigantic women pictured on the mosaic at the façade scare me, watching me and I hear them saying with a deep voice:  “oh you came here to spend your scholarship?! DO you think that this is a GOOD idea?”

Since I have learned from our classes that we should read something about the building before we just condemn it, I try to find architects’ statements to determine how exactly they came up with this idea. I tried, and there is another idea that I have learned – sometimes even text and information does not help at all. It is supposed to be an art deco–inspired building and this could be the first problem. An art deco building needs to be viewed from afar. And there is no afar in Berlin (except for Brandenburger Gate, Victory Column and Olympic stadium). Unfortunately there are no windows at the Primark building to have a nice view to Alexa.

Secondly, I do not see any art deco tradition at the Alexanderplatz as well. Maybe I understand the desire to bring more colors and waves to the sharp and grey Alexanderplatz, but there are still many other opportunities to do so. Perhaps it could be through a light installation.

As a critic, objectivity is crucial. I must confess that I really like the interior – not just because of the shopping opportunities. The inspiration by art deco is clear in there. Bright colors like yellow and blue are sensitively combined with black walls and golden banister. The shops are not too huge so it is easy to look around the whole room. The interior has a cozy and comfortable atmosphere. I would really enjoy Alexa if there was an underground tunnel heading from the S-bahn station to the shopping center – so I did not have to see that horrible building from the outside.

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