Bernau bei Berlin is located just outside the gates of Berlin. The small town connects rural Brandenburg with the metropolis. In Bernau, the most diverse and seemingly-contradictory layers of history converge: the medieval meets the modern meets GDR prefabricated architecture. The high city wall, made of rock stone and preserved from the Middle Ages, still today runs through the heart of town. Along this wall and deep into the city center, timber-framed buildings reside next to both late-19th-century Wilhelminian-style houses and GDR prefabricated buildings. They are a testament to the pivotal epochs that gave Bernau its multi-layered character. The demolition and subsequent redesign of the city center using specially-produced panels with the standardized length of 3.5 meters was an experimental attempt by the GDR to develop its own architectural language. The result is still a subject of controversy in Bernau today.
In the Waldfrieden district two kilometers away—hidden in the Bernau city forest—lies an extraordinary treasure of architectural modernity: the former Trade Union School of the ADGB. Since 2017, the Bauhaus Monument Trade Union School Bernau belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Site "The Bauhaus and its sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau." The designation as a World Heritage Site finally acknowledged the uniqueness of this building ensemble, which was developed here by the Dessau Bauhaus under the direction of Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer. Bernau's mayor André Stahl is particularly proud of this achievement:
"We are extremely pleased that the former Trade Union School of the General German Trade Union Federation (ADGB) in Bernau has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and is now part of the Bauhaus World Heritage Site, which has been in existence since 1996. This is the long-awaited reward for the hard-working. For more than 25 years, many people from the region have dedicated themselves to the reconstruction and preservation of the Bauhaus Monument Trade Union School Bernau. Independently of the UNESCO application, the city of Bernau has made a substantial financial contribution, specifically in connection with the Stiftung Baudenkmal Bundesschule Bernau (Architectural Monument Trade Union School of Bernau Foundation), which was established in 2011 and is managing the current renovation of the outdoor facilities and the planning of a visitor center. The World Heritage status will certainly contribute to making this still largely-hidden ‘treasure at the gates of the capital’ known to a wider public.”
The outdoor facilities surrounding the Meyer-Wittwer-Building were restored in accordance with historical preservation guidelines using funds from the city of Bernau bei Berlin and the federal government. In addition to the reconstruction of the plaza with the flagpoles, this restoration also includes the green strip of the access road to the World Heritage Site (Fritz-Heckert-Straße) and the redesign of the open-air swimming pool, which originally belonged to the ADGB Trade Union School and was planned by the Bauhaus for the leisure activities of the course participants. The city of Bernau bei Berlin is currently planning the construction of a UNESCO Visitor Center for the Bauhaus Monument Bernau on the World Heritage Site campus, with a view of the entrance to the Meyer-Wittwer Building. The pavilion structure made of glass and concrete is to be completed by 2021 and will serve as a reception center for the numerous international visitors who make the journey there each day.