Embassy Architecture

17 May 2017

In the embassy district on the south side of Tiergarten, architects have proven to be the best attachés for public relations. Worldly Berliners are more likely to be able to name a building’s creator than the leader of the country it represents, but they have at least read about the latest embassy opening in the news.

The proximity of nations on Tiergartenstraße and Hirsoshimastraße makes it easy for “countries visited” scorecard-keepers. Most of these home-away-from-home architectural wonders were completed between 1999 and 2003, and their newness hints at a war-torn and torn-city history. In 1937, Albert Speer, the architect responsible for accommodating Hitler’s plans for rebuilding Berlin, ordered embassies to relocate from the area that is now the federal government district to this ‘Diplomatic Quarter’. Jews who lived in the grand mansions here were thrown out, and any embassy wishing to construct a new building was obligated to use a German architect. Bombing destroyed many of the embassies, and when West Germany’s capital moved to Bonn in 1950, surviving ones were abandoned to decay.

The darling of the district is the combined Nordic embassies (, by Berger + Parkinnen, which even have their own bus stop on line 100 (Nordische Botschaften). The Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish embassies are uniquely encamped together behind an undulating blue-green patina façade that like a Venetian blind, can wink its horizontal panels to regulate both privacy and light intake. Behind this armor-like barrier you can glimpse the butterscotch-colored aspen used for some of the embassies themselves. To make the place homier, Iceland brought lava rock, and the Norwegians even brought a cosy 14m-high, 120 ton slab of granite. The public entrance to the embassies’ communal Felleshus (‘house for all’) is on Rauchstraße 1. Film nights feature Scandinavian classics, such as Summer with Monika by Ingmar Bergman, and often have English subtitles.


Connect via social media
Leave a comment using your email This e-mail address is not valid
Please enter your name*

Please share your location

Enter your message*
Over a year ago
South Africa
Good day, Thank you for the very informative and insightful material posted on embassy buildings' Architcture. I am a 3rd year student of Architecture at the University of Pretoria and have found your post very useful in aiding me with the design of my own embassy for South Aftica. Yours sincerely Akheel Naicker
Take your guide with you Download a pdf or order a printed issue Browse our collection of guides
Put our app in your pocket
City Essentials

Download our new City Essentials app

download 4.5