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Deutsches Technikmuseum - From department store to Tacheles - the Friedrichstraßen-Passage

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The Websites of the donation Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin at a glance:

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The donation contains six locations:

bw photo: The monumental entrance has a roof in the shape of a pyramid.

Imposing portal on Friedrichstraße.
Photo: F. Kullrich

bw photo: The stone figure of a man with a kangaroo symbolises the expansion of trade across the whole world as far as Australia.

The figure on the cornerstone stands for the trading place of Australia.
Photo: F. Kullrich

bw photo: The exhibition could be reached via the open staircase on the north side of the dome, whose floor consists of different mosaics.

The blue room – with a wall covering of blue velvet.
Photo: F. Kullrich

bw photo: Über die nördliche Freitreppe im Kuppelraum, dessen Fußboden aus verschiedenen Mosaiken besteht, gelangte man zur Ausstellung.

Stairway to the "AEG Factories’ Exhibition", about 1930.
Photo: Paul Lieberenz, AEG-Telefunken archive

bw photo: The building is quite derelict and dreary, with many broken or bricked-up windows. The façade is covered with posters and the name Tacheles is painted on it.

Entrance to "Tacheles" and to the movie theatre "Cinema", 1991.
Photo: A. Rost

bw photo: View of the ruins of the building from a wasteland containing rubble. The exterior walls and roofs are partially missing. An automobile installation with a Trabant and two Volkswagen cars can be seen in the foreground of the picture.

View of the shell of the structure in the direction of Oranienburger Straße, 1991.
Photo: A. Rost

From department store to Tacheles

Photographs of the Friedrichstraßen-Passage in Berlin

Gallery of the Photo Technology permanent exhibition, Beamtenhaus 2nd floor

12 October 2016 to 4 April 2017

bw photo: The picture demonstrates the size of the dome, archway and passage with their respective decorations. The wooden “Rialto bridge” was a convenient crossing on the first floor.

View from the dome of the “Rialto Bridge” in the passage in the direction of Oranienburger Straße, 1908. Photo: F. Kullrich

An elegant shrine to consumerism, a prestigious company address, a contested art house - the Friedrichstraßen-Passage, opened in 1908, can look back on an eventful history.

The Berlin photographer Franz Kullrich (1864-1917) documented the architecture of the passage building directly after its completion 1908.

Pictures from the period between 1929 and 1935, when the building complex served the AEG as an exhibition and sales area under the name of "Haus der Technik", illustrate a further stage in its use.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the greater part of the passage was demolished. The last remaining fragment was occupied by artists in February 1990, who christened it "Tacheles". Between 1990 and 1992, Andreas Rost, a photographer and one of the original squatters, captured the ruin in these atmospheric images.

Impressive shrine to consumerism

Located at the edge of the city centre of that time, the five-floor monumental building between Friedrichstraße and Oranienburger Straße was impressive in many respects. The building floor area comprised approximately 10,000 square metres, the Passage had a length of about 150 metres and the 48-metre high central dome measured 28 metres in diameter. It was crowned with a classical rotunda design containing countless small glass windows. What was particularly innovative about the building and widely acclaimed was the material used in the construction - reinforced concrete, the building material of the new century. The interior design with mosaics, mahogany wood and marble was noble and stately, with innovative technology. 150 checkouts were linked to a central point-of-sale via the largest pneumatic delivery system in Europe.

bw photo: During the event “Berlin in Light”, the AEG installed neon-light letters on the roof of the building and illuminated cylinders on the façade.

AEG façade lighting as a perfect example of modern neon advertising, 1928. Photo: AEG-Telefunken archive

"Haus der Technik"

From 1928 to 1945, under the name of "Haus der Technik" (House of Technology), the Passage building was known above all as a presentation venue for the products of the Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG). The AEG was one of the world’s largest electricity concerns at the time. The immense building, meanwhile conveniently situated in the centre of the city, allowed the company to concentrate exhibitions, sales and distribution in one central location.

The Passage was architecturally redesigned in 1924 - its roof was suspended at the height of the retail stores. This glass and steel construction resulted in a complete change in the overall impression.  The former splendour was only preserved in the dome and on the exterior façade.

Contested ruin - the art house "Tacheles"

As a result of the damage which occurred during and after the Second World War, most of the Friedrichstraße Passage was blown up at the beginning of the 1980s. In April 1990, the remaining part of the building was also supposed to be demolished. On 13th February 1990, artists occupied the last remaining fragment of the historical building and saved it from demolition. The ruin was christened "Tacheles" and has been a protected monument since 1990.

bw photo: View of the “Tacheles” from Oranienburger Straße.

Internationally famous: The art house “Tacheles” in Oranienburger Straße, 1991. Photo: A. Rost

The wild and anarchistic art house became a symbol of Berlin as a creative, unconventional and cosmopolitan city. Until eviction took place on 4th September 2012, it served as a venue for cultural events and was a centre of avant-garde experimental art projects with supra-regional appeal.

Currently, the famous ruin in a privileged location is being integrated into a comprehensive construction project under the artistic direction of the architectural firm of Herzog & de Meuron. A further cultural use is stipulated in the historic preservation file.

Header photo: View into the dome in the direction of the Friedrichstraße exit, 1908. Photo: Franz Kullrich

© For all photos: SDTB / Historical Archive