Cultural Heritage and Barrier-free Accessibility project

Accessibility is one of the greatest challenges facing cultural heritage sites today. Experiencing culture means being part of our society as it facilitates dialogue and brings people together. If culture is for everyone, how can we ensure that our greatest cultural institutions and monuments are barrier-free?

Cultural Heritage and Barrier-free Accessibility is a collaborative project by the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment, the Berlin Monument Authority and the Department of  Model+Design at the Technical University of Berlin which seeks to raise awareness of this issue to the wider public, monument conservators and students, enabling them to understand and take into account this fundamental problem.

Using three outstanding listed monuments in Berlin, students in Architecture analysed monument protection objectives and developed new ideas and solutions which are respectful of the original fabric of each site. The chosen sites represent three distinct periods of architecture: the baroque St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, the historic Alte Stadthaus and the Neue Nationalgalerie, a famous example of modern architecture. The projects therefore represent a perceptive cross section of European architecture, which has relevance and applicability throughout Europe. As a result of the project, inspiring and innovative proposals have been created using architectural models and imagery. In addition to the research work carried out, the group expanded their impact by designing a travelling exhibition, which enables a broad audience, beyond planners and architects, to understand the project.

Along with the individual projects which helped to overcome barriers to accessibility, this collaboration between the areas of barrier-free building/design-for-all and monument protection have developed effective guidelines for planners, showing that this is not just theoretical information but applied information”, stated the jury.

Cultural Heritage and Barrier-free Accessibility project, Berlin, GERMANY
The jury highlighted that “the cooperation between government stakeholders, companies and universities to promote this information is exemplary. It shows that the project has been successful in sensitising important groups to the link between accessibility and key sites. The dissemination of the project with a touring exhibition and publication is also evidently well planned and effective in communicating the results of the study, it has made this more attractive and is compelling evidence of the power of design for all”.

This creative and enthusiastic project convincingly demonstrates that accessibility and conservation are not contradictory and can be achieved harmoniously.