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Reinventing the urban scene

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Since reunification, Germany has experienced a rush of high-profile building projects, adding style and excitement to the urban landscape.

Berlin led the way, at times seeming like a perpetual building site. Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum, the government quarter including the Reichstag, and David Chipperfield’s resurrection of the long-ruined Neues Museum all grabbed headlines, while Peter Eisenman’s monument for the murdered Jews of Europe ensures the Holocaust is remembered right at the heart of the capital.

But the action isn’t limited to Berlin. In Düsseldorf, star architects including Frank Gehry transformed a redundant dock into the Medienhafen, a funky setting for some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. In Munich, Herzog & de Meuron’s Allianz-Arena created a new symbol for the city, while a handsome new synagogue and museum reinstated a highly visible Jewish presence. In the Ruhr, redundant industrial sites have been recycled to create some of Europe’s most original cultural spaces.

The stream of projects shows little sign of abating. Herzog & de Meuron’s extension of Duisburg’s Küppersmühle art gallery perches a translucent cube atop dockside silos, while their audacious design for the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg places a concert hall above a portside warehouse.

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