Project Description

Project Description

                The relation between history and present

                Interaction between architecture and German history using the example of the Reich Chancellery

                The need of a scientific examination

                A 3D- reconstruction of the Reich Chancellery as an experimental archeology

The projects history

                2003-2010 (the first 3D Model)

                2011-2018 (working on the new 3D – model)

                Planned Improvements of this Project

                Presentation Challenge

Project Description

 

The relation between history and present

If one of the many Berlin tourists, did ever ask himself if the proximity between the optical appearance of the Federal Chancellery and the Old Reich Chancellery is just coincidence or if it was planned that way by the former chancellor Helmut Kohl? Or did he give the architect complete freedom in the design of the building which contains the apartment and the office of the Chancellor? Is it just a coincident that the Federal Chancellery looks like the Old Reich Chancellery in Wilhelmstrasse 77?
It is a fact that the Federal Chancellery with its high central part, its lower side wings, the fenced off court of honor and its canopy looks like an homage to the Old Reich Chancellery, the building were all the Reich Chancellors used to live and work from 1878 to 1945.
This example shows that history cannot be changed later by demolishing buildings. By doing so, it becomes more difficult to understand the present and its relation to the past.

 

The interaction between architecture and German history using the example of the Reich Chancellery

By definition, architecture is the artistic additions made to the structural base of a building which is not actually necessary for the building’s functionality. Therefore, the architecture of a building defines how the owner would like to be seen in public.  Architecture has a lot to do with personal taste and its often used to discard structural problems of the building as well as to improve its qualities by using expensive materials or labor-intensive artwork for decorations.
The Reich Chancellery is a good study object for the different use of architecture and its development between 1736 until today. The building was, besides her historically importance, also a place where famous architects left their mark. Konrad Wiesend and Karl Friedrich Schinkel created the first building which was later used as the Old Reich Chancellery. The Architects Wilhelm Neumann, Ernst von Ihne, Eduard Jobst Siedler, Paul Ludwig Troost, Leonhard Gall and Albert Speer created later the architectural stage for the German chancellors to present the German Reich by extending the former Palace Radziwill into the Chancellery of the German Reich.
But it was these architects too who created the architectural stage which helped optically underlining the need for power the German Chancellors used to have to present themselves to the world inside this building. For that reason an architectural analyses of the changes made to the building by the different chancellors help to understand the different characters of the residents

 

Need of a scientific examination

Up to now there has never been an official attempt by German scientists to investigate the construction history of the Reich Chancellery. Since that fact does not reduce the public interest in the building, they left the historical examination mainly to the international TV- productions who often mix reality with fiction just to generate a wider audience and more “Likes”.     
Because of that the building has been transfigured into a myth and it has been reduced to its role alone to the time during the Nazi- era and the place of Adolf Hitler’s bunker, were he committed suicide.
The historical importance of the building and its residences like Count Schulenburg, Radziwill, Bismarck and Ebert on the world stage is ignored just to go again and again on the hunt of Adolf Hitler and to look for secret tunnels and bunkers.
Through the 3D reconstruction of the building it will be possible in future to place historical events better in order to compare historical facts with fiction generated by the media during the past years.  Now it will be possible to check testimonies and reports of eyewitnesses, authors and journalists. Comparing them with facts, found at the historically correct recreated grounds of the Chancellery, will shade a different light on many stories told by eyewitness and media before.   
Traveling back in time and actually walking through this historic building, helps one understand the history and the architecture in a new way because it makes the time traveler an eyewitness himself to a long past era.

 

A 3D- reconstruction of the Reich Chancellery as experimental archeology

The example of the Reich Chancellery shows how difficult it is to understand historic site just by looking at old construction plans or photographs. There are countless reports of journalists, books of authors or documentaries created by TV stations trying to tell the history of the building. But only a few of this publications even mention that the construction history of the Chancellery dates back to the year of 1733. But ignoring that fact it is not possible to understand the changes and extensions made to the building by the different Reich Chancellors.
The author of the project, presented here, came to this conclusion because he went through the trouble of recreating the entire building in a 3D- reconstruction. During this process the 3D- model of the chancellery became not just an object used to create images from but more an independent scientific work project, similar to a project done for experimental archeology. During the work on the project Christoph Neubauer was able to refute many theses about the construction history of the chancellery published before by different authors. This is because recreating the building by historical plans and comparing it with photographs during the recreation process it is possible to recognize if a plan has been used for the actual construction or was only a draft or a plan drawn later in time.
The process of the 3D – reconstruction also proved that such reconstruction work can not only be left in the hands of graphic designers. This is because a designer often does not have a scientific view on the topic and therefore tends to exaggerate specific parts of a building to make it look more interesting for the audience.
The project waived therefore on any design effects, it is focusing alone on a detailed and historically correct reconstruction.

The Reich Chancellery (DVD-Trailer 2008)

Project History

2003-2010 (the first 3D Model)

The recreation of the building of the Berlin Reich Chancellery on the computer began in 2003.  The project was originally planned to take only 6 months until completion.  In the beginning, it all looked very easy. There used to be a number of books available on the German and American market, focusing on the topic of the historic Berlin government district and the Reich’s Chancellery. The original plan was to finish the 3D – model needed for a planned 3D-animated documentary about the Reich Chancellery in a matter of six months.  A team of five 3D modelers had been put together, and they were to use the photographs and plans published in the books by the various authors to recreate the building. Anyway, it soon became clear that this would be not such an easy task. Using a plan or a photograph to physically rebuild a building, means looking at those references much more closely than the author of a book would, as he wrote and published his book. Christoph Neubauer realized that there were discrepancies in some of the descriptions told by these authors, and suddenly facts did not appear to match the provided illustrations. Regardless all those hurdles the 3D – model of the Chancellery that were created between 2003 and 2006, came very close to the historical facts.  The 3d model was, despite its limitations, detailed and historically accurate enough to be used for the creation of the 3d-animated documentaries. This was made possible, by editing the footage of the film, to simply show the areas of the 3d model, Christoph Neubauer was confident enough to share with the public. Between 2007 and 2009 the 3D- model got extended to show Hitler’s bunkers and the streets surrounding the chancellery, therefore, giving the viewer a better and more accurate impression of the whole location.

2011-2018 (working on the new 3D – model)

In 2011 Christoph Neubauer began to take over the 3D – modeling part in the project as well and began to create the basements and the bunkers of the New Reich Chancellery. During this time, he had noticed that the newly created rooms did not match up with the exterior of the 3D – model created earlier by the designer team back in South Africa. The first model was created using a very limited number of approximately 100 construction plans and photographs as a reference. By the year of 2011, the private archive of Christoph Neubauer had gotten larger hence providing him with a much wider source of research material and information than what was available to him at the start of the project back in 2003. His private archive today contains more than 13,000 plans and photographs of the chancellery in addition to more than10,000 of her surrounding buildings. Even though it would mean a costly investment in Christoph Neubauer’s time and finances, in 2011 he made the decision to rebuild the entire 3D model of the Reich Chancellery. However, in the year 2013, a new upcoming technology made hope for the future use of the new 3d-model. How great would it be if people could walk inside the recreated Reich Chancellery using VR-Headsets like Oculus or HTC-Vive?   But soon it became clear that motion inside VR would be still a major obstacle to overcome, for the user of this technology before VR could be used as a delivery tool to bring this building back to life. Another challenge that current VR technology presents, is resolution limited displays. It is not yet possible to view the new 3D-model in all its glory, details and colours. Because of these current VR technology constraints, the new 3d-model is presented in a classic first-person walkthrough inside a game engine similar to an FPS-Game. The person taking a tour is presented with the best possible quality of the textures, the modeled details, vegetation and lighting effects. Today the new 3d-model has got a tolerance to the original construction plans of not more than 0.5 cm. Christoph Neubauer was able to reach that goal by not only using the original construction plans as a photographic reference for the 3d-recreation. Instead he did rebuild every wall and every room by using the exact measurements avoiding therefore inaccuracy cursed by lenses distortion during the replications of the plans in the archives.    
But not every section of the building is documented on plans. Here he has to use only historic photographs as a reference.
But it is an ongoing project which probably will never get to be entirely finished. The 3d-model will continue to grow, extend and being updated because new archive material and new information about the construction history of the Reich Chancellery continues to be made available from the past daily.

Planned Improvements of this Project

There will be continuous improvements on this 3D model. First, Christoph Neubauer will concentrate on completing the 3D model of August 1939. This will include all basement levels of the New Reich Chancellery as well as all the rooms on all four floors of the different parts of the building complex. The rooms for which no photographs are currently available will be reconstructed using floorplans and original construction plans. Therefore, it will be soon possible for visitors, taking a tour, to experience the full dimensions of the building. In time also the Old Reich Chancellery with the Fuhrers Apartment will be accessible, and the houses of the “Begleitmannschaften” (staff) on Hermann-Goering-Strasse, as well as the underground parking garage. The goal is to reconstruct the entire structure and therefore bring it back from the past, accessible for people who are interested in the history of this building.  

Presentation Challenge

People might ask why is it not possible to walk through the 3D- model using the internet and why do I have to book the creator Christoph Neubauer to present it?
One reason is that a regular home computer cannot handle the highly detailed graphics demands of this 3D- model.  These highly intensive graphics require a specialized and a high spec computer to present this 3D-model.