volksbuehne architecture

in july 2011.

Because the number of participants is restricted to 15, we kindly ask for an immediate response.

The tour costs 10 euros, reduced it's 5 euros.

meeting point Büro Schwimmer, in the evening we'll attend a show at the Volksbühne.

The offical evening will end in the cantina of the theatre.

the history of the house

The Volksbühne was founded in 1890 as the "Freie Volksbühne. The building was financed by workers and planed by the architect Oskar Kaufmann, a Jewish immigrant from Hungary, and built in 1913 to 1914 as the first theatre in Berlin in modern style. It was able to house 2000 spectators.
He built as well the Hebbel theatre (the HAU 1), the Renaissancetheater in Charlottenburg, the Neues Stadttheater in Vienna and after his emmigration in 1933 the Habimah in Tel Aviv and the Ora-cinema in Haifa.
Famous Max Reinhardt was its second artistic director, soon after, Erwin Piscator came and Walter Gropius designt the Totaltheatre for him.
In the war it got heavily dammaged.
A competition in in the year 1948 was won by Hermann Fehling, who chaned the appearance to classical modern by adding a flat roof and cubic stage tower and side wings.
In 1952-54 Hans Richter than designed the interior.
More on Hans Richter here.
From 1974 to 1977 Benno Besson was artistic director, whom brought among others Heiner Müller and Matthias Langhoff into the house.
After the wall came down, Frank Castorf started in 1992 as the artistic director and still is.
Christoph Marthaler, Christoph Schlingensief, Dimiter Gottscheff, René Pollesch came and did plays.
In 1992 as well the Prater opened as second location with a focus on performance (Gob Squad, She She Pop, Pollesch).
2009 the house at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz was closed and renovated, right now the Prater is closed due to difficulties with claims on the ground by owners of former Schultheiß brewery.

further information >>> here.

Anna Viehbrock

Stage designer, often for Christoph Marthaler
We'll show some of her productions like Riesenbutzenbach.

Bert Neumann

stage designer of the Volksbühne. He also made the Agora, the open air theatre in front of the main entrance of the Volksbühne, while the building was under renovation. It's a simple structure made with containers and scaffolding with a wooden fence. The stage was the entrance facade plus some tons of sand.
We'll show an overview of his work.


THe former amusement garden of the Schultheiß brewery.
Since 1995 it is a dependence of the Volksbühne. In December 2000 the first evening of Pollesch was happening here. We'll show the conception of the place and the actual state of construction.

the summer break of july to august 2010

In the summer break of 2010, the facade of the Volksbühne changed: it was closed completely by the now double amount of shell limestone columns.
The windows and entry vanished. This comment on the "Steinerenes Berlin" and the fortress of theatre institution was planed by the office for subversive architecture, invited by Castorf.
The construction of these columns was done with the classical skills of the theatre worker.
More here and here

the experiment socialism

There will be a short reflection on the GDR in culture and the everyday. Part two will follow with a focus on GDR architecture.
Robert Kurz, Wolfgang Engler, Carl Hegemann, Heiner Müller, Frank Castorf, Christa Wolf, Boris Groys, Ilya Kabakov, Andrej Tarkovskij, Stanislav Lem
Klub der polnischen Versager

More on the schwimmer tours.

The open lecture is a cooperation of Büro Schwimmer and architectureinberlin.

Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

The Agora

Castorf plays at the Agora


Pollesch / Neumann - EIn Chor irt sich gewaltig

Marthaler / Viehbrock - Riesenbutzbach at Tempelhof

summer break 2010

all photos: Sven Eggers