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Planning & Construction

»Canaletto, who illustrates this great construction process in his paintings, conveys only little of the breathtaking beauty this side of the river has to offer.«
Rear view of the central building

Rear view of the central building
(© The ministerial complex in Dresden (1907) / Saxon State Chancellery)

In a book published in 1907 by construction supervision on the development and use of the building, Dr. Eng. Mackowsky wrote: »When royal splendour and the emerging middle classes of Dresden gave rise to the most magnifiscent buildings in Dresden at the beginning of the 18th century, the new part of the city on the right side of the Elbe river was practically forgotton.« Indeed was there hardly anything of architectural noteworthiness on the side of the river, upstream of the Golden Rider by the end of the 19th century. Across from the Brühlsche Terrasse, there were military buldings and coach houses as far as the eye could see.

After the construction of a new military town north of Dresden following the establishment of the German Empire in 1871, room was made in the city centre for ambitious urban plans of the up and coming Saxon kingdom. As early as 1877, the chief master builder Carl Adolph Canzler, commissioned by the Royal Ministry for Finance, set out a nationwide open tender for the design of a new city district. The tender failed, even though a total of 76 designs were submitted. This may have been due to the fact that no functional requrements had been stated for the new constructions. The only prerequisite was the integration of a new bridge over the Elbe river. Most of the archtects involved designed two monumental bulding complezes at the outlet of the new bridge: the Ministry for Finance and the collective ministry.

It was another ten years, before the plans were specified - when the negative conditions under which the Royal Saxon Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry for Culture had to operate, made the construction of new buildings a priority. Up to that time, the ministries were housed in the so-called »minister hotel« and the Kanzleihaus on Schloss Strasse, where conditions were cramped, and the lighting was bad. The royal architect Edmund Waldow was tasked with the construction of a new ministerial building. He submitted the first drafts in June of 1899, and the final decision was made by the Landtag in the session of 1899/1900. In addition to Edmund Waldow, the state construction inspector Friedrich Auster and the architect Heinrich Tscharmann were tasked with the project. Ground breaking took place on August 6, 1900. The initial construction phases went so smoothly that the initially scheduled construction period of five years could be cut by three quarters of a year in the end. On July 4, 1903, the crown was added to the skylight of the central building to mark end of construction, and in November 1904, the various ministries had completed their moves to the new premises. For economic reasons, a third ministry, the Ministry for Justice was moved to the new ministerial complex.

Not only construction time, but also costs had been lower than anticipated. In comparison with other similar complexes, the construction of the Dresden ministerial buildings turned out relatively cheap. The complex with a length of 154m, a width of 67m, and a height of 24m came to a total of 4,305,000 marks. The enclosed space comprises 589.63 cubic meters. The Imperial Court (Reichsgericht), which was built around the same time in Leipzig, consumed a whopping 5,902,000 marks, comprising only 132.156 cubic meters of space.



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