The German government have invited architects to bid for the honour of reconstructing Berlin’s Royal Palace.

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A specialist panel of architects will pick the winner who will oversee the ambitious rebuilding of the palace, or Stadtschloss, which was demolished in the 50s after receiving extensive damage in World War II.

The competition runs until November 2008, and reconstruction work is due to begin in 2010. The restored palace will be known as the Humboldt Forum and be used as a cultural centre for exhibitions and events and house collections including Indian, African and Asian art, books and records from the Humboldt

German Building Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee said: ‘Humboldt Forum is one of the most significant cultural building projects in Germany.’

The rebuilding of the palace, which was used as the main residence of the kings of Prussia and German emperors, will cost over half a billion euros.

The original Stadtschloss was destroyed by the German Democratic Republic’s communist government in the 50s and then replaced with the Palace of the Republic in the 70s.

However, the building – which housed the East German parliament – was later found to contain asbestos and demolished. The decision to rebuild the palace has received criticism from some former communists who wanted the parliament preserved as a site of historical significance.

Germany’s Federal Government will provide 440 million euros, with 80 million euros coming from private donations and 32 million euros from the Berlin state administration.