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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Netherlands Embassy Berlin, Germany design by OMA/Rem Koolhaas

Photo: Christian Richters

In the wake of the reunification the German government relocated the capital to Berlin “Mitte” (Center). The Netherlands, having sold their former embassy site after the War, were free to choose anew and preferred Roland Ufer in Mitte, the oldest Berlin settlement, next to the (new) government district of their main trade partner.

The client demanded a solitary building, integrating requirements of conventional civil service security with Dutch openness.

“Traditional (former West Berlin) city planning guidelines demanded the new building to complete the city block in 19th century fashion, the (former East Berlin) city planning officials had an open mind towards our proposal for a free-standing cube on a - block completing - podium.
When we were given charge of the design of the entire site we were able to further explore a combination of obedience (fulfilling the block’s perimeter) and disobedience (building a solitary cube).”

The access road between “cube” and “residential wall” acts as courtyard open to one side to allow a panoramic view over the Spree and the park. In order to emphasize the difference with the surrounding buildings which are clad with stone, the sockle and the wall with the residences are clad with aluminium.

A continuous trajectory reaching all eight stories of the embassy shapes the building’s internal communication.
The workspaces, the “leftover areas,” after the trajectory was “carved” out of the cube, are situated along the facade.

Reception spaces are activated inside the cube. Other semi-public spaces are located closer to the facade and at one point cantilever out over the drop-off area.
From the entry, the trajectory leads on via the library, meeting rooms, fitness area and restaurant to the roof terrace.

The trajectory exploits the relationship with the context, river Spree, Television Tower (“Fernsehturm”), park and wall of embassy residences; part of it is a “diagonal void” through the building that allows one to see the TV Tower from the park.

The (slightly over pressurized) trajectory works as a main airduct from which fresh air percolates to the offices to be drawn off via the double (plenum) facade. This ventilation concept is part of a strategy to integrate more functions into one element.

This integration strategy is also used with the structural concept. The internal walls adjacent to the trajectory are load bearing beams that cross over each other enough to bring loads down. Hereby big open spaces are created on the lower floors of the building. Load baring glass mullions, allowed to fall out in case of a fire while still leaving the superstructure in tact, support the floor slabs where the trajectory meets the facade.

The building won the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award 2005

Total area: 8,500 square meters Completed: 2003
Project: Netherlands Embassy Berlin

Client: Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs -
Dienst Gebouwen Buitenland, The Hague
Architects: OMA
Rem Koolhaas
Ellen van Loon
Project Director: Erik Schotte
Project Architect:
Michelle Howard
Gro Bonesmo
Project Team:
Beth Margulis
Anu Leinonen
Daan Ooievaar
Adrianne Fisher
Robert Choeff
Christian Muller
Oliver Schütte
Fernando Romero Havaux
Matthias Hollwich
Katrin Thorhauer
Barbara Wolff
Bruce Fisher
Anne Filson
Udo Garritzman
Jenny Jones
Shadi Rahbaran
Mette Bos
Adam Kurdahl
Stan Aarts
Julien Desmedt
Annick Hess
Rombout Loman
Antti Lassila
Thomas Kolbasenko
Moritz von Voss
Paolo Costa
Carolus Traenkner
Susanne Manthey
Christiane Sauer
Tammo Prinz
Nils Lindhorst
Felix Thoma,
Bill Price
Marc Guinand

Structure: Royal Haskoning / Arup Berlin
Services: Huygen Elwako / Arup Berlin
Project Management: Royal Haskoning
Fire: Hosser Hass + Partner, Berlin
Lighting: OVI, Washington DC, Berlin
Curtains: Inside-Outside, Petra Blaisse

OMA/Rem Koolhaas arcspace features

Photographed by Christian Richters (Artur)

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