The Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin-Mitte will be transformed into a construction site for two years. The reason for this is necessary renovation and modernization work. As part of the project, the square will receive a new, underground infrastructure. An alternative location has been found for the popular Christmas market.
© Photographs: depositphotos.com
Text: Björn Leffler
The Gendarmenmarkt is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and most visited places in Berlin. The listed building ensemble can look back on an eventful, over 300-year history. Now the square is undergoing extensive reconstruction for two years.
The necessary renovation and modernization work is already starting today. This also means that the popular Christmas market, which traditionally takes place on the square in front of the concert hall, will have to be set up at a different location for a transitional period.
NEW LOCATION FOR THE CHRISTMAS MARKET WILL BE BEBELPLATZ
However, the alternative location is also very nice: in the next two years, the Christmas market will be held on Bebelplatz with St. Hedwig’s Cathedral on the boulevard Unter den Linden, which is also under reconstruction. Not the worst alternative.
The redesign of the square, which was coordinated with local residents in advance, is to be carried out in a manner appropriate to the monument. The state-owned company Grün Berlin is responsible for the conversion. The redevelopment focuses primarily on sustainable and energy-related project goals.
BETTINA JARASCH: “PREPARING HISTORICAL CENTERS FOR CLIMATE CHANGE”
Environment Senator Bettina Jarasch (The Greens) says of the project, “We will equip our city centers for climate change – including our historic centers. With the conversions now starting, a piece of sponge city is coming to Mitte to the historic cultural site at Gendarmenmarkt. This is a good blueprint for further climate-resilient redesign measures in the city. In the future, we will generally design squares so that rainwater management works on site.”
With that, Jarasch addresses one of the core themes of the upcoming redevelopment. The square is to receive an underground network of pipes for electricity, water and wastewater, some five kilometers long. In the long term, this is to replace the previous, rather provisional above-ground lines in the square.
CONVERSION: GENDARMENMARKT TO RECEIVE A MODERN UNDERGROUND INFRASTRUCTURE
With more than 50 retractable drinking water and wastewater connections and around 30 underground electricity connections, events such as the popular “Classic Open Air” or the aforementioned Christmas market will be able to be held independently of the infrastructure of the historic concert hall in the future.
These construction measures are expected to significantly shorten set-up and dismantling times in the future. Rainwater management is also to be optimized. After the conversion, rainwater is to be collected and returned to the groundwater. The rainwater will be pre-cleaned in underground technical facilities and collected in buffer tanks provided for this purpose.
RAINWATER MANAGEMENT IS TO BE OPTIMIZED
During heavy rain events, these storage tanks then act as important reservoirs to prevent flooding, as they can hold back excess water. This will also relieve the local sewer network.
Once the civil engineering work is completed, the square will receive a new natural stone paving, which will be based on the current paving of the square. During the construction work, the construction area at Gendarmenmarkt will remain completely closed.
THE CHRISTMAS MARKET AT CHARLOTTENBURG PALACE WILL ALSO HAVE TO GIVE WAY
Almost 25 million euros are to be invested in the project. However, it is not the Mitte district that is bearing the cost, but the transport authority. The latter is financing the costly reconstruction from the federal development project “Improvement of the regional economic structure”.
Another very popular Berlin Christmas market will also have to make way due to an upcoming construction project. The Christmas market, which this year as in previous years will be set up in front of the historic palace panorama, will have to make way for the construction of the new visitor center starting next year. It has not yet been decided where the Christmas market will be held in the future.