24 October 2017

"Berliner Brücken" by Thiemann and Desczyk

While putting together my recent run of posts on the bridges of Berlin, I was looking to see if there was any book I could use to supplement internet research.

There doesn't seem to be a good book in English, but there are several in German. I settled on "Berliner Brücken: Gestaltung and Schmuck" by Eckhard Thiemann and Dieter Desczyk (236pp, Lukas Verlag, 2012) [amazon.co.uk]. The title translates roughly as "Berlin Bridges: Form and Ornamentation".

The book starts with a history of bridge design and construction in Berlin, which is very well illustrated with historical drawings, paintings and photographs. Historically, as with most cities, the major challenge for bridges in Berlin was to span waterways, and a number of beautiful, intriguing and often unusual structures are depicted and discussed.

In more recent history, bridge-building has shifted to the spanning of railways and roads, and the book reflects this, although it does not feature bridges which actually carry rail.

The bulk of the book is a structure-by-structure encyclopaedia of the more significant of Berlin's bridges, featuring around 140 different bridges, each with at least one page to itself, with more significant bridges (or groups of bridges) getting two pages.

Where more than one bridge has stood on a particular site, both old and new structures are covered, and also a number of sites where a bridge once stood but no longer does so. Again, this part of the bridge is very well illustrated, the text is informative, and dates and designers are always given appropriate credit.

The book is generally good at picking out details of bridges: sculpture, decoration and the like, and has an entire section devoted just to this, with several pages of images. It also has seven pages of detailed maps to locate the bridges, a detailed timeline, glossary, bibliography and index.

It really is an excellent model for how such a book should be done.

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