The client demanded a solitary building, integrating requirements of conventional civil service security with Dutch openness.
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
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.
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
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
Facts about Netherland's Embassy
Ellen van Loon
Fernando Romero Havaux
Moritz von Voss
Royal Haskoning / Arup Berlin
Huygen Elwako / Arup Berlin
Hosser Hass + Partner, Berlin
Lighting Consultants: Office for Visual Interaction (OVI)
Lighting: Office for Visual Interaction (OVI)
Curtains: Inside-Outside, Petra Blaisse
OMA/Rem Koolhaas arcspace features
Photographed by Christian Richters (Artur)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands - Dienst Gebouwen Buitenland
Last updated: December 19, 2013
Out of the Ordinary: The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates
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