Necessary: soil tests

Thorough soil tests are an indispensable prerequisite for systematically planning and implementing a construction project. Detailed samples provide information on the soil characteristics that are relevant to construction, and support prognoses about the interaction between the soil, ground water, adjacent buildings and the planned building.

What exactly will be tested?

The goal is to recognize, analyze, and minimize soil risks early. The first results are already available, and these need to be elaborated now. Since soil tests can only deliver random insights, there will always be a residual risk.

Qualified experts were brought in to create an expert opinion based on various investigative techniques. It essentially provides information on the geological situation of the soil, its static load-bearing capacity, history and unexploded ordnance in the ground, soil contamination, previous contamination and pollutants, and the hydrological conditions and groundwater resources.

What surprises could be hidden underground?

The building site has a turbulent past: it has been repeatedly rebuilt since 1880 and was bombed heavily during World War II. Bomb craters can be up to 6 m deep and after the war they were often filled with construction rubble, building ruins, or leftover ordinance. This is why contamination in the upper layers cannot be ruled out.

As far as the composition and structure of the soil are concerned and based on past experience with Berlin soil conditions, no special difficulties are expected. But surprises are always possible.

What is so special about the Berlin’s soil?

The broad spectrum from little contamination to polluted soil. The suspicion that it contains unexploded ordinance might also be confirmed.

Encountering structures from the Nazi regime is always a distinct possibility in Berlin. The vision of “Germania, the capital of the world” was being turned into reality in the late 1930s, so underground foundations and cellar remnants might turn up. Since there are no complete records, finding remnants like these always need to be reckoned with.

Utility lines: what is flowing below the surface?

There are various kinds of utility lines under the building site. They need to be moved before construction can begin. The building administration and the building owner, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, are coordinating the planning with the local water and power suppliers.

There is currently a 380-kV high-voltage power line under Sigismundstrasse – one of Berlin’s main power arteries. It cannot be tunneled under. Independent of the construction of the new museum, plans are currently being made to relocate the cable. The passage between the Neue Nationalgalerie and the new museum building can be built after the cable is moved, probably in 2027.

What will happen to the stone sculptures in the Kulturforum?

Stone sculptures in the Kulturforum
View of the Kulturforum, in the foreground Justus Chrukin, Nekropole, granite/steel, 1988 ©SPK

Since 1988, several stone sculptures have graced the building site near Potsdamer Strasse. The works were created as part of two international sculpture symposia. The E88 symposium was conducted in 1988 by the Senate Administration for Culture when Berlin was the European cultural capital. Other sculptures were created as part of the Stones without Borders symposium in 2003. Stones without Borders has been held regularly since 2001. It has been a member of the European Road of Peace since 2012, which is dedicated to the German-Jewish sculptor and painter Otto Freundlich, who was murdered by the Nazis.

Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz has contacted the artists and the Senate Administration for Culture and Europe in order to find an attractive location in Berlin for these artworks and move them there.