So you’ve seen the peak of the Mount Everest on tour? Descended the bobsled ride of the Matterhorn in a Disneyland? Think you’ve seen it all? Now come and see The Berg in Berlin!
German architect Jakob Tigges explores the outskirts of megalomania with his proposed a plan to construct a 1000-meter tall mountain at the site of the recently closed Tempelhof airport in Berlin, which was originally constructed by the Nazi’s as part of their megalomaniac Germania plan.
If realized, ‘The Berg’ would be the largest man-made icon. A tourist attraction unlike any city has ever served, providing Berliners and (more importantly) tourists with a convenient location to enjoy a range of activities including hiking, hang-gliding, rock climbing and even skiing, as the mountain would collect snow on its peak from September to March offering the perfect skiing climate in the otherwise slope-less city.
The plans for The Berg seem to have spawned out of a severe case of ‘peak-envy’. On the Berg website, the 35 year old architect writes: “While big and wealthy cities in many parts of the world challenge the limits of possibility by building gigantic hotels with fancy shapes, erecting sky-high office towers or constructing hovering philharmonic temples, Berlin sets up a decent mountain … Hamburg, as stiff as flat, turns green with envy, rich and once proud Munich starts to feel ashamed of its distant Alp-panorama and planners of the Middle-East, experienced in taking the spell off any kind of architectural utopia immediately design authentic copies of the iconic Berlin-Mountain.”
Whether the world is gullible or people truly want to see and experience The Berg, the project attracted a lot of local media, gathered a huge 5000+ following on Facebook and has some promising product endorsements already.
Although an uninhabitable monolith of this magnitude might look appealing at first sight, funding for it might be another matter. Not to mention the environmental impact of the gigantic structure. The mountain is so big it would alter the weather surrounding it and attract a wide range of flora and fauna. Nonetheless Berliners are getting behind the project as another tourist-attracting (money-making) option for their fair city.
"It's provocative, but not constructive," Tigges told Der Spiegel of his proposal. The architect sees his idea as more of a place-holder in the minds of Berliners, a mythical mountain to fire imaginations until an appropriately grand solution is found. In the meantime, Tigges says, he would prefer for Tempelhof to remain untouched as he considers it more interesting for a Sunday walk than your average park landscape.
"Tourists would come to the site to take photographs of the mountain that isn't there," said Tigges, who noted that his euphoric mountain renderings serve as a direct critique of the city of Berlin. "The site is much too valuable to sacrifice for mediocre apartment buildings."
Time will tell if Berlin will take on the monumental task of constructing The Berg or leave the plan as a wild speculation. Although the project, if ever realized, would certainly be the largest urban mountain, it would not be the first. Already in the fourteenth century, a monumental artificial mountain was constructed in the Forbidden City of Beijing, China.
The creation of ‘Prospect Hill’ (denoted as Jingshan in Chinese) was incented by Feng Shui principles that dictate it is favorable to site a residence to the south of a nearby hill – it is also practical, gaining protection from chilly northern winds. The imperial palaces in the other capitals of previous dynasties were situated to the south of a hill.
When the capital was moved to Beijing, no such hill existed at this location, so one had to be built (obviously). The artificial mountain was entirely constructed through manual labor, hence it can be called a truly man-made mountain. The structure is 45.7-meter tall, covers an area of more then 230,000 m² and is visited by thousands of tourists every year.
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It's a gigantic project, and an interesting idea, by the way. Nevertheless it would be a gigantic nonsense if realized. Berlin and whole Germany is so flat broke I can't imagine how many centuries it would last until the Berg has paid itself off. What a pity because the combination of uplands and our capital would be very attractive!