14 Grech - Kaiser Wilhelm Gedchtniskirche and Europa...

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Unformatted text preview: Kaiser Wilhelm Gedchtniskirche and Europa Centre. Once a symbol of West Berlin, the Europa Centre and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church are situated at the northeast end of the Kurfrstendamm, a street renowned for glamorous shopping opportunities. All photographs in this article are by the author Radical History Review Issue 83 (spring 2002): 11542 Copyright 2002 by John Grech 115 Empty Space and the City: The Reoccupation of Berlin John Grech O ne of the central points Lewis Mumford makes in his classic study The City in History is that, historically, cities are places where more and more people have gone to realize their lives. 1 This article deals with cities; in particular, it deals with the city of Berlin, or should I say, with a portrait of that city, a city that lies at the heart of many events marking the development of the West in its current form. This work takes as its central themes the emptiness and space in the city created by the Berlin Wall. I develop these ideas in the form of a meditation, an essay in the tradition of Montaigne, a personal reflection on a theme, that more than documents the trans- formations of the city from the 1980s to the 1990s. It is also a travelogue. Thus this article transcribes spaces geographic, economic, political, cinematic, personal, and linguistic on an ambling sojourn from Potsdamerplatz to the Reichstag. The impressions and speaking positions given here are those of a Maltese Australian who has spent much of his life in the heart of Sydney, and who has trav- eled to Berlin occasionally. This is the position of a misplaced individual who stands both here and there, on the margins, a migrant and a tourist. The present essay con- siders these positions, the migrant and the tourist, alongside that of the citizen in an analytical synthesis examining how the people occupy space in the city today. I might have titled this essay Sydney/Berlin: Center/Periphery, but such a name might have suggested an anachronistic exploration that travels from center to edge along two big cities at the end of the twentieth century. In fact, I want to displace fixed notions of time-space, here-there, past-present, in-out as part of a larger, ongoing search for a sense of belonging. Today, places like Sydney and Berlin form part of a global web of habitable spaces emerging in the city of the twenty-first century. Yet if Sydney and Berlin constitute explicit nodes in this network, places like Malta and Amsterdam remain implicitly available as places where cohabitation and belonging may become more actual, that is, places where both the symbolic and material occupation of space may be accommodated more satisfactorily. While I never fully explicate these places in this article, they exist within my work none- theless....
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This note was uploaded on 07/27/2010 for the course ARCH 4040 taught by Professor Mical during the Spring '10 term at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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14 Grech - Kaiser Wilhelm Gedchtniskirche and Europa...

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