Mad about Berlin

The city where it all started

The annual educational study trip did this year went to Berlin. The city where it all started, at least for MAD. Kurt, Trond and Nicolai met in Berlin, right after the wall was torn down in 89. The three of them worked in the city for several years, before they moved back to Oslo and in 97 founded MAD. 20 years later, on the exact date for the registration in The Brønnøysund Register Centre, the office – now quite bigger – was eating their last supper at Solar sky lounge and restaurant. And what a growth and Journey it has been, with approximately 300 projects and more than 50 employees!

The previous days MAD visited different projects with a distinction and flair of reuse and transformation. The modern, the western, the communistic, the colors, smart and elegant way of infill or brutal use of concrete. It all melts into a vital and diverse city.

The Crown jewel of all restoration projects, Neues museum, done by David Chipperfield at the Museum insel, and the more simply co-housing project in Ritterstraße by Heide & Von Beckerath were both inspiring. When we visited the former church of St. Agnes, now turned into Köning Galleri by the architects of Brandlhuber, we all got blessed.


One striking thing with all the transformation projects in Berlin, are how they managed to incorporate the new functions in the old building structures. One significant project is Boros gallery, a labyrinth of rooms and staircases in a former air raid bunker. With the main structure of concrete walls thick as 1,8 meters and a 3 meter thick ceiling, the gallery gives a strange experience of spatiality, though with a confined feeling.

For understanding urbanism, you'll have to get the whole perspective.

The last project on the program was the closed and abandoned airport Tempelhof, even though abandoned would may be the wrong term to use, as we dicovered thousands of people using the enormus area. Even though MAD does not possess the magic powers of E.T, we almost felt like taking off at the runway. Planned to become Europe’s biggest public park, you can live quite dense in the city center, and still have the space needed for kite running, biking or rollerblading without disturbing others.

– Vi var alle enige om at det hadde vært en fin tur! (Norwegian saying after spending a weekend at the cottage).