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Decision 21 COM VII.C.47/45
SOC: Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin (Germany)

VII.47 Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin (Germany)

The Committee examined in detail the third report on the state of conservation of Potsdam submitted by the Minister for Science, Research and Culture of the Land Brandenburg.

The Committee also listened to the observations made by the UNESCO expert who undertook various missions to Potsdam for extensive discussions with German authorities on the Federal, Land and local levels. The expert informed the Committee that when he started the discussions, the planning for the so-called 'Postdam Center' was already concluded. The expert considered the concept agreed upon by the City of Potsdam, responsible authorities and investors to be contradictory to the main features of the Potsdam cultural landscape. After extensive discussions, the German authorities accepted to tender an international competition for the area (with the exception of the building areas 9-12 where construction was halted at ground zero level) to elaborate a new and more adequate concept. The winning project respects in a better way the characteristics of the Potsdam topography and history. The expert analysed the effectiveness of different means of protecting a vast zone, e.g. through monument protection or through a planning mechanism such as a master plan. He concluded that a master plan for the City of Potsdam including the protected areas, would be the most effective and should be elaborated in a constructive dialogue between the German authorities and the World Heritage Committee. The expert stressed the effectiveness of the involvement of the World Heritage Committee and the Centre in planning processes such as for Potsdam, particularly if they would be involved in the early planning phases as stated in the Operational Guidelines.

The Committee made the following observations on the various issues addressed in the reports.

1. Extension of the World Heritage site

The Committee noted with satisfaction that the German authorities would proceed with the application for the extension of the site and that, as informed by the Observer of Germany, this would be submitted at the beginning of next year. The Committee regretted, however, that, contrary to the original proposal (as submitted in the first report on Potsdam to the Committee at its twentieth session) this extension would include only a small part of the « Städtchen » between the Pfingstberg and the New Garden in the World Heritage site. The Committee urged the authorities to reconsider this matter. The Committee welcomed the inclusion of the village of Bornstedt as an integral part of the World Heritage site, but was concerned that the rural character might further be affected pending the extension and the adoption of a master plan. The Committee strongly recommended that measures be taken to avoid further negative developments.

2. Elaboration of a master plan for the Potsdam cultural landscape

The Committee commended the commitment of the city of Potsdam to elaborate a master plan for the Potsdam cultural landscape and expressed the hope that it will provide an adequate mechanism and provisions for the protection of the World Heritage site and the Potsdam cultural landscape. It understood that a certain time will be required for the preparation of a master plan if it is to reflect a proper urban vision. In the meantime, the Committee requested that a first phase of such a plan be submitted to the Bureau at its twenty-second session. The Committee invited the authorities not to take any irreversible measures which could have a damaging impact on the Potsdam cultural landscape until the entry in force of the master plan.

3. Results of the urban development competition «Grüne Mitte-Alter Markt/Lustgarten»

The Committee welcomed the competition and its outcome. However, it considered that further steps be taken to rebuild the historic centre and to define its role. The Committee encouraged the City of Potsdam to continue this process.

4. Results of the urban development competition for the « Quartier am Bahnhof »

The Committee commended the German authorities and investors for having reversed the decisions concerning the so-called « Potsdam-Center », which would have had a severe impact on the Potsdam World Heritage site. The Committee considered the winning design of the urban competition for this area, which is now called « Quartier am Bahnhof », to be an acceptable compromise that will allow for the project to be better integrated into the cultural landscape of Potsdam. It expected that the plans for the building areas 9-12 will be reviewed in the light of their compatibility with the results of the competition.

5. Other building projects

The Committee reiterated its concern that other building projects pose potential threats to the Potsdam urban and cultural landscape, especially new buildings in Babelsberg (« Potsdam Fenster »), Gewoba-Buildings (Alt-Nowawes), and housing and business buildings at the Ribbeckstrasse, Bornstedt.

6. Conclusion

According to the recommendation of the Bureau made at its twenty-first session, the Committee examined if the threats to the World Heritage site still persist. The Committee concluded that although considerable improvements have been made, threats were still persisting. Therefore, the Committee decided to defer the discussion whether or not Potsdam should be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger until its next session. The Committee requested the German authorities to submit a new report on the above issues by 15 September 1998 for examination by the Committee at its twenty-second session.

Decision Code
21 COM VII.C.47/45
States Parties 1
State of conservation reports
1997 Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin