Converting Opportunities into Problems- Passages at Potsdamer Platz

by Helena Larrain

Potsdamer Platz is a point of big movement in the city. The star-architects design buildings and the strong development of the commerce, attract the visit of thousands every day. The area is a great contribution to the city’s incomes, satisfying the need of a consumerism society. In this context I want to focus on an area that represents exactly the opposite.

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Just next to Postdamer Platz a block of office buildings and a hotel are erected. They are 30 meters high, with 8 or 9 floor levels. Between them remain four passages that connect the streets Köthener and Gabriel Tergit Straße. Köthener Straβe marks the start of a residential area and Gabriel Tergit Straße the beginning of the Postdamer Platz area. But Potsdamer Platz is very well connected with great avenues, U-bahn and S- bahn that get just into the center of it. In consequence the flow through the four passages barely exists.

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The reality is that they remain empty most part of the day, increasing the desolation when the night comes. The only passage that connects a perpendicular street, Bernburger Straβe, with Gabriel Tergit Straße also has a reason to avoid it: It is designed as a high platform with almost 50 steps that go up and then down, so most of the people and cyclists chose a long but comfortable way to cross – surrounding the block.

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It was a thoughtless design that brings to the citizens a feeling of desolation, insecurity and also a miss of opportunities. For me, the main reason for this desolation is that the buildings are not open to the public. The ground floors are reserved to private programs and they do not have entrances from any of these passages.

If the design of the buildings includes public spaces the scene of the area would be completely different. With some stores and restaurants this passages could be part of the attractiveness of Potsdamer Platz. Office workers, tourists and neighbors could come here to eat or buy throughout the day.

So this is a call to architects, urban designs, investors and people that are involved in the development of these styles of projects: Do not loose these opportunities, converting the power of a place into a failure.

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