London’s architecture lacks Berlin’s sense of culture, says Chipperfield

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Berlin’s Kulturforum arts cluster, which Chipperfield says has been for ‘rebuilding a city, not just physically but mentally’
Berlin’s Kulturforum arts cluster, which Chipperfield says has been for ‘rebuilding a city, not just physically but mentally’/ © Allan Baxter-Getty
Berlin’s Kulturforum arts cluster, which Chipperfield says has been for ‘rebuilding a city, not just physically but mentally’
Berlin’s Kulturforum arts cluster, which Chipperfield says has been for ‘rebuilding a city, not just physically but mentally’/ © Allan Baxter-Getty

The leading British architect Sir David Chipperfield has said that he regards private investment’s hold over new architecture in London as an “absolutely terrible” means of building a city.

In Berlin, where he employs an office of 90, “there is still an idea of the public realm. We have given that up in London. We have declared the public realm dead; the question is how to get stuff out of the private sector. We are unbelievably sophisticated at that.”

His most celebrated work, the remaking of Berlin’s bombed-out Neues Museum, which opened in 2009 after a decade of work he called “an unbelievably positive experience”, was based on a serious debate about meaning that he finds lacking in Britain.

“Clearly the war and the fact Germany had to reconstruct itself spiritually as well as physically means it is a much more reflective society than ours. Ours is a success-based culture. If something is successful it’s successful. Whereas here [in Berlin] there is a lot of discussion about what things mean.” ….

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