CIOTAT STUDIO
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In 2012, Ciotat Studio ® conducted studies for an archaeological investigation of the material culture of the Stadtbahn in Berlin. The Stadtbahn demonstrates how architecture may participate in the urban realm, and it reveals the power of design at multiple scales, from infrastructural order to tectonic details, and these studies explore the potential of videography as a mode of urban archaeological analysis. This work-in-progress includes footage from eight of the fourteen stations on the Ostkreuz-Westkreuz axis of the Stadtbahn. In 2015, Ciotat Studio ® begins shooting new footage in all fourteen stations for a final version of the project. Diagrams and clips coming soon.

Ostkreuz-Westkreuz is envisioned as a fourteen-screen video installation that distills the spatial grammar of the Stadtbahn. This project is inspired by Johann Friedrich Geist’s Arcades: The History of a Building Type (MIT Press, 1985). Geist dissects the urban and architectural logics of arcades through analytical drawings and photography. His method is scientific as opposed to theoretical – clinical as opposed to conjectural. Ostkreuz-Westkreuz aspires to the methodical ways in which he lays bare the spatial grammar of the typology. The objective is to record the planometric and sectional conditions of each station. as well as the multiple layers of movement through and within each station. As in Geist’s analyses, the relative scale and proportion of the stations is a critical lens of analysis.

Work in progress ...

Cast of Characters (8 stations):

Friedrichstrasse:

 

By the middle of the nineteenth century, railroads connected Berlin to every corner of Europe. Each line terminated at the edge of the city, as the city center could not accommodate the infrastructure of the railroad. Monumental stations arose along the customs barrier that encircled the city. The lack of intercity connections between stations hindered the flow of people and goods through the capital. In 1850, the king ordered the construction of a street-level connection line: the Verbindungsbahn. The first segment of the line connected four of the city’s five major stations, from Stettiner Bahnhof in the north to Anhalter Bahnhof in the south, via Hamburger Bahnhof and Potsdamer Bahnhof. This segment improved military readiness, allowing troops to pass through the capital more quickly and dependably.
Historical Context
In 1851, the line was extended to Frankfurter Bahnhof for commercial and residential services. The non-stop movement of heavy freight along the line, however, reeked havoc on the growing city. In 1867, the opening of Görlitzer Bahnhof exasperated the overcrowding, and authorities looked for a new solution. The same year, work began on a Ringbahn that would encircle the city from a relatively remote distance. The first section of the ring opened in 1871, just as Lehrter Bahnhof, a major new station, opened in the north of the city. The entire ring opened in 1877.
In 1882, Hamburger Bahnhof closed and Nordbahnhof opened, reconfiguring the logic of the northern region. The same year, Charlottenburg Bahnhof opened just within the western edge of the ring. It provided further connections to regional and continental destinations. More significantly, Charlottenburg Bahnhof served as the western terminus of the new Stadtbahn. The Stadtbahn is an elevated east-west railroad axis through the center of the city. It connects the city’s terminals more efficiently than the Ringbahn, and without the detrimental consequences of the Verbindungsbahn on the life of the streets.
The original Stadtbahn consists of eleven stations (in blue). The extensions from the line to the ring include three additional stations: Ostkreuz (originally named Stralau-Rummelsburg and renamed in 1933); Westkreuz, which opened in 1928; and Warschauer Strasse Station, which opened in 1884 along the eastern extension at the former location of a customs gate into the city. During the 1930s, the construction of the Nord-Süd-Tunnel added a perpendicular crossing of the Ringbahn region. This crossing intersected the ring at Südkreuz in the south and at Gesundbrunnen in the north. These stations, like Ostkreuz and Westkreuz, are the primary coordinates of the Ringbahn. Unlike the Stadtbahn, the north-south axis runs mostly underground within the city limits. It therefore affects the fabric is less obvious and consequential ways.
After World War II, the other original long-distance stations were destroyed and/or de-commissioned. The above-ground Stadtbahn dramatically affects the physical and the social fabrics of the city. It is a linear hub of physical and social exchange, and it acts as a decentralized “central station” of Berlin. Each station mediates the relationship between the city and its infrastructure in a unique manner, none of which adhere to the frontal hierarchies typical of the nineteenth century urban terminal. All stations are through-stations, not terminals, that negotiate complex hierarchies within the city fabric.
In order to accommodate the eastern terminus of the Stadtbahn, Frankfurter Bahnhof was relocated and reimagined as a through-station instead of a terminus. In 1881, it was renamed Schlesischer Bahnhof. By the end of the 1880s, extensions from the Stadtbahn connected it to the Ringbahn, at Westend in the west, which was formerly named Charlottenburg Bahnhof, and at Stralau-Rummelsburg in the east.