Topography of Terror traces its history back to the temporary exhibition of the same name, which opened in 1987 in Berlin in the open air, on the site of the buildings of the Gestapo, SS and SD, destroyed to the foundation. The need for a permanent exhibition of this kind quickly became clear. In the early 1990s, an architectural competition was held for the design of an information center, which was won by Peter Zumthor. His building was supposed to open in 1998, but construction was hampered by the great complexity of the Swiss architect's design. The costs grew, the contractor went bankrupt, there was no replacement for him - as a result, the work stopped.
It was decided to return to the Tabula rasa version, a "blank slate", when visitors are simply invited to familiarize themselves with information stands, as in 1987. The Berlin Senate removed Peter Zumthor from the project, and the demolition of three staircase and elevator nodes already built according to his plan was announced.
However, demolition is not cheap, which is why architects Kleyer Koblitz Winkelmüller received a “counter project” demonstrating how existing concrete structures can be preserved by incorporating them into a new structure. According to the authors, it is necessary to make their use in the project an essential part of the task of the new competition. Such a solution would not only save budget funds, but would also become a starting point for more original options than Tabula rasa.