Berlin U-Bahn

By The kulturspace Foundation

A photographic documentary of the entire U-Bahn network, the book narrates the evolution of Berlin’s metro system through photos dedicated to each station’s design elements. If you ever wanted to travel back in time to relive Berlin’s richly chequered history, you just need to immerse yourself in the pages of “Berlin U-Bahn” by Claudio Galamini. Spanning all 173 stations in the network, the shots capture each platform devoid of people so the viewer can fully appreciate the expressive colours, typography and ambient aspects.The largest underground network in Germany transporting more than 530 million passengers a year, the Berlin U-Bahn is rarely free of heaving crowds, making this a memorable homage to the architects of this fascinating system. Now you can journey through Berlin’s colourful history at the flick of a page. A native of Italy Claudio Galamini was captivated by the seemingly endless spectrum of designs and fonts decorating the Berlin U-Bahn network. As an avid explorer and photographer, his work has amassed a strong following on Instagram, leading to the creation of this visual documentary.

U7 Adenauerplatz (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

“Going through Claudio’s photos, I couldn’t help but find myself mesmerised by the pure focus of those shots on capturing the colours, typography and vivid design elements of each station.”
Justin Merino, founder kulturspace.

U1 Warschauer Straße (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

Gateway to Berlin’s Entertainment Hot Spots

There’s a good reason Warschauer Straße is one of the most frequently visited stations for both native Berliners and tourists. Besides the Mercedes-Benz Arena (previously O2 World) located within walking distance from the station, there are 3 clubs located at the basement of the station, one of which is the Matrix Club — one of the biggest clubs in Berlin. And of course, all the best techno clubs in the city are accessible by foot from the station. Come 2018, there will be even more reason to frequent the station, as it will be adjacent to the new live-work-play urban quarter, aka the East Side Mall.

Terminus of the Oldest Part of the U-Bahn

Originally named Warschauer Brücke when it first opened on 17 August 1902, the station sits on the eastern end of the elevated U1 route — the oldest part of the Berlin U-Bahn. It was closed between 1961 and 1995 due to the Berlin Wall being erected along the River Spree. Following the fall of the wall, the station underwent extensive reconstruction and reopened as Warschauer Straße on 14 October 1995.

U2 Potsdamer Platz (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

Caught in the Middle

Opened on 18 February 1902, Potsdamer Platz was the first underground station to operate in Berlin. This former “ghost station” was located right on the border between East and West Berlin, rendering it unusable by residents of either side during the Cold War, hence the term “ghost station”. With the Berlin wall erected directly above the station, it was closed and remained a “ghost station” from 13 August 1961 to 13 November 1993. Following the fall of the wall, the station was architecturally redesigned.

An Iconic Landmark

Today, Potsdamer Platz is an important pub- lic square and bustling traffic intersection in the Berlin city centre, frequented by Berliners and travellers from all over the world. Trans- formed from its once desolate state, this historical square is now a prominent hub of art, entertainment, shopping, and stunning modern architecture. It is also best known for the futuristic urban aesthetics of the Sony Center which houses an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, art and film museums, cinemas, high-end residences and more.

U3 Heidelberger Platz (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

A Popular Tourist Destination

In addition to the station’s glamorous aesthetics as a tourist destination on its own, the town of Heidelberg (after which the station is named) is also a firm favourite amongst travellers. Attractions include Heidelberg University, one of Germany’s oldest and most reputable universities, Heidelberg Castle and its baroque-style Old Town. The town’s romantic and picturesque cityscape keeps tourists coming back for more.

The Star of the U3 Line

Opened on 12 October 1913, Heidelberger Platz is the crowning jewel of the U3 line with its groin vault ceilings and regal iron lamps. The Jugendstil-inspired design by architect Wilhelm Leitgebel features a wealth of mosaics, beautiful decorative embellishments and intricate tiling to resemble a cathedral. The lavish architecture reflects the affluence of Heidelberg at the time.

U4 Rathaus Schöneberg (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

Ich bin ein Berliner!

It was on the steps of Rathaus Schöneberg (Schöneberg Town Hall) — West Berlin’s City Hall during the city’s years of division — that President John F Kennedy delivered his iconic speech in 1963 which ended with his most famous words, “Ich bin ein Berliner!” (I’m a Berliner!”) Though there has been confusion which led some to interpret his words as “I’m a jelly doughnut”, others have expressed approval that Kennedy chose the only phrase that could properly convey his message of solidarity.

A Rare Structural Hybrid

First opened on 1 October 1910 as Stadtpark, this early 20th century gem is a sight for sore eyes. An above-ground station in a park bordered by a small lake, it doubles as a bridge too. Reopened in 1951 as Rathaus Schöneberg, this quirky but delightful station has large glass windows offering charming views of the beautiful park.

U7 Jungfernheide (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

“The greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.”
David Bowie, singer.

U5 Alexanderplatz (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

Berlin’s Most Popular Tourist Square

The central square in Berlin’s Mitte district, Alexanderplatz, or more commonly known by locals as “Alex”, is where it all dovetails — years of architectural, social and political history. On 4 November 1989, one million people gathered at this very square in protest against the GDR regime. One of the largest anti-government demonstrations in East German history, the peaceful protest played an instrumental role in bringing down the Berlin wall.

The Station that Connects Them All

Named after the Alexanderplatz square, this station is a bustling transport hub, connecting more U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines than any other station in Berlin. However, despite being one of the biggest stations in the city, its architectural design conveys a sense of austere minimalism with its modest tiles and subdued colours.

U55 Brandenburger Tor (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

The Most Contemporary U-Bahn Station

The Brandenburger Tor station, opened on 8 August 2009, is probably the most contemporary station in the U-Bahn network. If the gleaming gold lettering against the highly polished dark wall panels don’t make a statement, the luminous ceiling lights certainly do. Featuring several large maps, historical pictures and information on the walls, the station for the country’s most recognisable landmark certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Europe’s Symbol of Peace and Unity

Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), an 18th-century neoclassical monument commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace, has stood as a site for major historical events over the last two hundred years. Following Germany’s reunification in November 1989, it was quickly reinvented as both the nation’s and Europe’s symbol of peace and unity.

U6 Platz der Luftbrücke (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

Ahead of Its Time

Originally named Kreuzberg when the station first opened its doors on 14 February 1926, it was renamed Flughafen (Airport) in 1937. Offering a direct connection to the Tempelhof Airport — a unique feature in the world then — the station was clearly ahead of its time. The station’s name was changed again in 1975 to the current Platz der Luftbrücke, though there are still two old wall signs bearing its original name preserved under glass.

No Central Columns

One of only two Berlin U-Bahn stations without central columns (the other being Märkisches Museum), this is another of Alfred Grenander’s creations. Due to the area’s topography, the station had to be built unusually deep underground, which meant having an uncommonly high vault and long platform. Its grey tiles with black accents form a beautiful mosaic backdrop for the station.

U7 Richard-Wagner-Platz (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

A Celebrated Name
Originally opened on 14 May 1906 as Wilhelmplatz, the station was subsequently renamed Richard-Wagner-Platz in 1935. A celebrated name in music and dramatic arts, Richard Wagner is one of the world’s most influential — though controversial — composers. As a young boy, he was said to “torture the piano in a most abominable fashion”. Though not considered to show aptitude for music, Wagner wrote his first drama at the age of 11 and starting composing music when he was 16. The station’s walls are decorated with images of Wagner’s operas as homage to his legacy.

One of the First U-Bahn Stations Constructed

The Richard-Wagner-Platz station was designed by Alfred Grenander, one of the most prominent architects during the early period of the U-Bahn construction. His extensive work included the Ernst-Reuter-Platz, Deutsche Oper and Potsdamer Platz stations, and many others with landmark status today. The station features a striking yellow and black motif alongside Byzantine-style mosaics of medieval historical figures, salvaged from a hotel near Potsdamer Platz demolished in 1975.

U7 Konstanzer Straße (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

“Berlin combines the culture of New York, the traffic system of Tokyo, the nature of Seattle, and the historical treasures of, well, Berlin.”
Hiroshi Motomura, US law professor.

U8 Rosenthaler Platz (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

Rosenthaler Tor: The Entry Point for Jews

Until 1910, Rosenthaler Platz (the square) was known as “Platz vor dem Rosenthaler Thor”. It was the site of Rosenthaler Tor (Rosenthal Gate) — one of the few decorated gates in Berlin at the time, as well as the only gate permitting Jews to enter Berlin. Designed in the style of a Roman triumphal arch, the elaborate structure was framed by majestic columns with an entrance on each side of the large central gate. The gate was destroyed after the city’s reunification.

Refreshingly Orange

Opened on 18 April 1930, the station’s walls and columns are adorned with bright orange tiles, an inspired choice on Alfred Grenander’s part. How can one not love those refreshingly orange tiles? After years of closure as one of the numerous “ghost stations”, Rosenthaler Platz served as a temporary border crossing following the city’s reunification.

U8 Jannowitzbrücke (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

The Story of a Bridge

Jannowitzbrücke (Jannowitz Bridge), a bridge over the Spree River in Berlin, was built in 1822 by Christian August Alexander Jannowitz, a cotton manufacturer. Originally made of wood, the bridge was rebuilt several times over the years. Its reconstruction as an iron girder bridge was completed along with the opening of the Jannowitzbrücke U-Bahn Station on 18 April 1930. Today, the station also serves as a stop for locals and tourists going on private excursions or sightseeing boats across the Spree River.

A Border Crossing Point

After being closed for over 28 years as a “ghost station”, Jannowitzbrücke was reopened on 11 November 1989 (just two days after the fall of the Berlin Wall) as a border crossing point. The station played an essential role in facilitating the movement of East Berliners into West Berlin during the months following reunification.

U9 Birkenstraße (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

The Poetic Station

Originally named Putlitzstraße when it first opened on 28 August 1961, the station was renamed Westhafen after a nearby port in 1992. In 2000, artists Françoise Schein and Barbara Reiter did a complete redesign of the station. They replaced the original ivory-coloured tiles with lettered tiles, juxtaposing the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights with famous quotes by Heinrich Heine (a German poet) in French and German. This distinctive theme can also be found in Paris, Brussels, Lisbon and Stockholm.

Berlin’s Largest and Oldest Port Facility

Westhafen (West Harbour) is a huge inland port covering a total 430,000 m2 which has been operating since 1923. Its monumental size coupled with its sophisticated storage, handling and operational facilities played a fundamental role in shaping Berlin’s emerging industrial landscape in the twentieth century. It continues to play an active role in connecting the city with other trading centres through its shipping facilities.

U9 Kurfürstendamm (2017) by Claudio GalaminiThe kulturspace Foundation

Formerly the Main Transport Hub for West Berlin

Opened on 28 August 1961, the Zoologischer Garten station (colloquially known as Bahnhof Zoo) was the central transport hub for West Berlin during the city’s division. The station gained even greater importance following reunification, as it was the first stop for trains entering Berlin from western Germany. Its role has since diminished, following the opening of Berlin Hauptbahnhof in 2006.

The Most Visited Zoo in Europe

Zoologischer Garten Berlin (the Berlin Zoological Garden) is considered one of the most popular zoos in the world, besides the most visited in Europe. Covering a span of 35 hectares (86.5 acres), the zoo houses about 1,500 different species and a population of almost 20,500 animals — the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.

Berlin U-Bahn Book CoverThe kulturspace Foundation


Credits: Story

Copyright © 2016 by kulturspace limited

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Photography by Claudio Galamini
Book design and production by kulturspace

Printed in Germany & United States of America. First printing, 2016 - ISBN 9780692809112
USA: kulturspace limited, Los Angeles, California.
Germany: Justin R. Merino agiert als kulturspace, Berlin.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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