Hauptbahnhof station stands out from all of the other stations that we studied. The area is a clear gateway, thus regarding the whole area as a hub for Berlin City. As the sketch shows, the area is surrounded by roads that lead to motorways, and with no evidence of local businesses or it being a residential area, it can be said that the area purely serves the purpose of acting as a gateway and a transport network. In addition, the station allows the traveller to view from the platform a general view of the city centre as from the edge of the platform a view of the needle tower, as well as the Reichstag and river can be seen which are features that are a focal point for the city. Whilst there are no shops, restaurants of tourist attractions in the immediate area outside Hauptbahnhof station, it is worth nothing that all the shops and restaurants are inside the station.


Objects are present all around us in our everyday environment and they help represent and influence the use, organisation, etiquette and functioning of public areas. In order to represent the role that certain objects played along our transect, we have created an ‘Alphabet of Objects’ for the train platform. The idea is to think of the platform as an ‘alphabet of objects’ which through their series, helps to construct a meaning of space This alphabet means that each letter is represented by an object that we observed along our journey.

Alphabet of Objects

Two examples of objects from the alphabet for this stop and described in more detail below:

1. Luggage Trolley – Luggage trolleys were only found at the Hauptbahnhof station. They are an object usually associated with an airport, but finding them on the Hauptbahnhof platform, helped to represent the size and scale of the station. The station acts as the gateway to Berlin and has trains coming from all over Germany passing through. Therefore, the luggage trolley helps passengers move their belongings from one platform to another easily and quickly.

2. Ornaments – Ornaments are again an object only really associated with the Hauptbahnhof station. These ornaments also represented the size and scale of the station and were there to welcome people to Berlin and Germany. They slowed down the movement of people (mainly tourists) who stopped to admire them.  


Observations and Descriptions of Behaviour from Hauptbahnhof

Modern, clean, new. A web of inticate paths and platforms, staircases and interlinking passageways. This web is continued in the pattern of the glass which makes the huge arching roof of glass. The lines criss-crossing like the paths of the passengers in this ‘jungle’ of a station. Crowds of people everywhere. More like a regional shopping centre than a regional transport hub.

Photo: Internal photographs of Hauptbahnhof showing people waiting on the platform for their train to arrive.

The trains here are higher, the pace is faster, the footfall is far greater. This station is geographically very central to Berlin and has been designed to serve all Berliners and tourists. The announcements are in German and English the signs are tourist friendly. We see crowds of soldiers, school children, couples, teenagers, and then also elderly people. The sheer volume of people is a contrast to other stations. Also the waiting times are longer so you can observe people for longer. Away from the platforms you forget you are at a station. The surrounding area doesn’t enter into your thoughts. People do not seem to enter Hauptbahnhof by foot, as with most of our others stations, this is more a place to change, or to arrive for a long journey, or perhaps even a destination in its own right for shopping or eating. The noise here is overwhelming, the screech of breaks, constant voices, all creating a drumming consistent noise. The trains being larger are older and create the atmosphere of grandeur, the embarkment of a Journey across Europe. For frantic romantic scenes from films which take place on train platforms, this would be the perfect setting. Passengers twirl around beneath you on layers of the station right down to the subway, making sense of signs and maps. They stop beneath you unaware they are being observed. The cycle of passengers is less noticeable, they seem to be instantly replaced with crowds of equally large size. Huge trains of people with luggage wait on the other platform, unavoidably restricting the flow down that platform. They carry guitars, suitcases, cellos, rucksacks, shopping. You have to shout over the noise.

Click on above picture for video


One way of representing etiquette at this stationn is by taking a virtual tour (click on link below). The tour is useful as it shows how you should encouter the station. You are instructed that you should 'arrive, travel and relax' in a station which is in 'the heart of Berlin' surrounded by the pulse of the urban'.

you get a real sense of the station by using this tour - it also attempts to reveal the sheer scale and achievement of the station. It is important to note that in a marketing video no breakdowns or lapses in etiquette are shown. This is undesirable behaviour and so the ideal Hauptbahnhof is portrayed.



Hauptbahnhof is Berlin's most modern-looking building, and represents Berlin's move forward into postmodern renewal. It was designed by architects Gerkan, Marg & Partners, who started the project in March 1993. The station consists of 500,000 m³ of concrete and 85,000 tons of steel were used in its construction.

Estimated users daily


Total floor area

approx. 70,000 m²

Total commercial space

approx. 15,000 m²

Parking spaces

approx. 900

Trains daily

approx. 1,600


500,000 m³


85,000 t





Panorama lifts


Solar roof area

2,700 m²

Number of solar roof modules


Length of station hall (north-south)

160 m

Length of station hall (east-west)

321 m

Height of arched structures

46 m

Construction site Berlin Hauptbahnhof at night

On a total floor area of 70,000 square metres, Berlin Hauptbahnhof has 54 escalators and 49 lifts under a roof which contains 2,700 m² of solar panels comprised of 1,250 modules, which let in vast amounts of natural sunlight.

Section of the glass roof of the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof

The station hall is framed by two 46 metre-high arched structures that span the Stadtbahn line.

Illuminated glass roof of the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof in the evening

The highest level in the station is 10 metres above street level, and the lowest level is 15 metres below ground.

Cross-sectional view of the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof

All information and images in this section have been taken from the Berlin Hauptbahnhof Website which can be found at:



Local Resident:

  • Time: Late, rubbish! Stupid dawdling tourists in the way!
  • Delays: I hope not!
  • Number of people waiting: Loads, going to be absolutely packed.
  • Relationships: How on earth should I know what to get her for her birthday?!


People everywhere… even getting to a platform’s going to be a mission and a complete fluke if I get to the right one… I need the… U9 to… somewhere, Grunewald… ok, not the U-Bahn, not the S7 or the S75, not the S5… this one!... wow! this place is huge, very impressive, glass everywhere… huge doesn’t really do it justice, it must look like an enormous glass dome from the outside… and trains coming form everywhere, Amsterdam, Paris... all the objects have the same look to them, sleek and modern, even the bins have been reinvented, a slick metallic design... the whole area looks more like a space station than a train station… and judging from the number of people wandering around with huge backpacks they might as well be going to the moon… everything’s gone digital as well, massive mix of people here as well, you could meet anyone here, even got what look like station cops standing to attention in the middle… no wonder.. train! rubbish!... map! find a map… U9 to Grunewald?... this might be it… er… yep...ish… got a 50:50 chance at least… everyone’s already lining up in a 3 deep queue, standing still is defiantly not an option at the moment… ok! I’m moving, stop shoving! I’m getting on the train ok!? Easy mate… ok, just need to check the train map… need to check the train map!... ok, so turning around isn’t an option then… please let this be the right train…