ICC Berlin

Some images of Berlin's International Congress Centre designed by Ralf Schüler and Ursulina Schüler-Witte in 1979.
Sprinklerstation at the Internationales Congress Centrum in Berlin. the ICC opened in 1979 and was designed by architects Ralf Schüler and Ursulina Schüler-Witte.

I came across this sinister looking building while riding around the city one afternoon. Turned out to be a massive convention centre. I peddled back out to the ICC building after dark and took some photos of the exterior only to discover that there was a bizarre transit area underneath the complex completely covered by bright orange tiles. Stylistically it’s sort of a hybrid between brutalist architecture of the 60s and 70s and futuristic styles which were beginning to be adopted. I find buildings like these fascinating because they’ve become so familiar to me through fiction. This sort of 1960s techno-futuristic aesthetic cropped up around the time of the space race but was quickly superseded by other architectural trends and lost favour with the general public for its association with totalitarianism and socialism.

But it lived on in the films, books and concept art for science fiction classics throughout the second half of the 20th century and it remains the go-to style for computer games like Doom 3, Mass Effect and System Shock. The underlying assumption is that future civilisations will be more practical somehow – that their buildings will be pre-fabricated and modular and that, at some stage, we’ll all willingly divorce ourselves from the natural environment and feel comfortable in totally manufactured environments of geometric steel and glass.  Designers like Syd Mead clearly kept alive the techno-futuristic style through his concept work for Blade Runner, Tron, Aliens and countless other sci fi films. Even now Berlin’s ICC would not look out of place on the satellite of Elysium in Neil Blomkamp’s new film.

You can also find a raft of images of the Schülers’ other Berlin masterpiece, the Bierpinsel, all over the net.














Richard Pendavingh

Photographer, designer and weekend historian. Editor of The Unravel. Writes about design, tech, history and anthropology.


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