The History of the Bundeshaus

In the past years, Bonn has become an congress destination, where where future-oriented topics ofglobal importance are discussed.  Since Autumn 1999 the former Plenary Chamber of the German Pariliament and the Wasserwerk – both part of the so calles Bundeshaus – are of use a congress center.

In the following Bonn’s history as capital and the history of the Bundehaus from pedagogic academy to the plenary chamber of Günther Behnisch are discribed.

The opening meetings of the parliamentary council

At the end of the Second World War Bonn was one-third destroyed – yet as the city still lay in ruins its moment of rejuvenation struck. Late in the evening of July 5, 1948 the city’s fathers’ received a request asking if they could host the upcoming constitutional convention. They agreed without hesitation. This request was facilitated by minister director Hermann Wandersleb, who later received the honorary name “Bonnifacius”. He was the man that “made Bonn”.

The opening meetings of the parliamentary council, whose chairperson was later Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, occurred on the 1st of September 1948 in the Museum Koenig. This was the only building at the time in Bonn which offered sufficient space for a meeting of the entire council.

The sessions were later held, however, in the pedagogic academy which was being adapted since the relocation through night and day work specifically for this purpose. The academy was located at the current headquarters of the Bundeshaus on Görrestrasse in Bonn. Until the current Bundeshaus was built the main convention venue for the parliamentarians was the gymnasium of the pedagogic academy, which had been ordered built in 1931 by the state building master Witte.

Bonn as the capital city

Eight months later the final decision was made to turn Bonn into the (interim) capital city. In the running for this position was also the Hessian metropolis of Frankfurt am Main, which had often played an important role in the history of Germany. Among the reasons Bonn was chosen were that it offered more possibilities for expansion and better accommodations for the federal government. Further, Bonn had the empassioned recommendation of the leader of the parliamentary council, Konrad Adenauer, whose hometown of Rhöndorf is only a few kilometres south of the city.

Additionally respected was the fact that Bonn is modest in size and met the targeted characteristics of a provisionary capital city in post war Germany, whereas Frankfurt was loaded with tradition and partiality.

Hans Schwippert and Günter Behnisch: Architects of the Plenary Chambers

The old gymnasium was finally remodelled in 1950 by the architect Hans Schwippert. However, in 1983 the German Building Office was concerned that the current Plenary Hall was too small and would need to be reconfigured. After the preliminary planning stages for the transformation, the parliament resolved to completely redevelop the Bundeshaus into its today form.

During the time of reconstruction, from 1986 – 1992, the parliament met in the adjacent Waterworks until the new building, conceptualized by the architect Günter Behnisch, was ready for occupancy.

From Bundeshaus to Congress Center

After the relocation of a part of the federal government from Bonn to Berlin took place in 1999, both the Waterworks and the Plenary Chamber, with their additional conference rooms of all sizes, are available to be rented by the public for events of all kind. Today the Plenary Chamber, the Waterworks and the extension that will be built next to the Bundeshaus presumably until 2015 are known as World Conference Center Bonn.