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.” ….