April 18, 2011 / 4:39 PM / 6 years ago

German reunification monument unites the critics

3 Min Read

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - A planned monument to German reunification lacks technical and conceptual competency which could turn the 10-million-euro ($14.33 million) tourist attraction into a security risk, a critic said.

The monument, a 55-meter-long bowl that see-saws as visitors climb on it, must have tighter security, Uwe Hameyer, a director of the Berlin Architects and Engineers Association, told Reuters on Monday.

"The proper engineering is apparently finished, but it'll be a tourist magnet and there must be enough security to make sure that not too many people climb on it, which could result in a panic reaction," Hameyer said.

The extra security measures should include ensuring that no more than the 1,500 people the structure can technically hold stand on it at any one point. The monument's architects already plan to build a fence around its edge so that nobody falls off.

The monument, "Citizens in motion," designed by the German design firm Milla & Partner and Berlin choreographer Sasha Waltz, won a government competition last week.

The design has been met with a steady volley of criticism not uncommon in a country overflowing with monuments to its recent history.

"The new unity monument is a giant fruit bowl," wrote Bild daily, the country's largest newspaper, while other media wondered aloud if it resembled a baby rocker.

Hameyer, an architect from the former West Berlin, said the monument appeared to be a "sophisticated plaything."

Because people can climb on the monument, a security fence rings the glass and steel bowl protecting anyone from falling.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper ironically noted that citizens would be "enclosed by fences and guards" reminiscent of colossal East German state security apparatus, which was eventually ransacked by East German citizens.

"A unity monument can't be entrusted to private security like a finance ministry," the paper wrote.

Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, which was cut off by the Berlin Wall, already serves as a monument to reunification recognized around the world, said Hameyer, who did not submit an entry into the competition.

"We don't need an extra monument here. There are several others that are much stronger symbols," he said.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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