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Berlin's 'bürgers' find Chippo's Museum Island scheme hard to digest

David Chipperfield Architects' gateway proposals for Berlin's Museum Island are coming in for increasing criticism from local pressure groups.

Last November the practice cracked open the champagne after the German government announced it would pump 73 million euros (£49 million) into the firm's James Simon Gallery entrance building project, which had stagnated for five years (Chippo's Berlin museum proposals to become reality thanks to cash handout).

However shortly after the decision, the Gesellschaft Historisches Berlin (GHB) launched a petition against this scheme and the practice's ongoing restoration of the island's Neues Museum, and a burgeoning campaign group Rettet die Museumsinsel (Save Museum Island) has also begun collecting signatures in protest of the proposed development.

Known as a bürgerinitiative, the potentially powerful Rettet die Museumsinsel group could become a serious thorn in the side of Chipperfield's plans.

Following the funding announcement, and in light of the public outcries, the practice has already started reworking its original.

A spokeswoman for Chipperfield's office in Berlin said: 'We take the criticism seriously - our office is currently revising the design of the new entrance building.

'The criticism has been considered and has influenced the design process. The project will be presented in summer to the public.'

It is unclear at this stage how the objections will affect the timescale of the long-awaited project which was expected to start on site in 2009.

by Richard Waite

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