Netherland's Embassy

March 10, 2008 /

Berlin, Germany

Photo: Christian Richters

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 trade partner.

Photo: Christian Richters

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).


Photo: Christian Richters

Photo: Christian Richters

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.

Photo: Christian Richters

Photo: Christian Richters

Photo: Christian Richters

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.

Photo: Christian Richters

Photo: Christian Richters

Photo: Christian Richters

Photo: Christian Richters

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.

Photo: Christian Richters

Photo: Christian Richters

Photo: Christian Richters

Photo: Christian Richters

Photo: Christian Richters

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.

Sketch © Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)

Sketch © Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)

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.

Sketch © Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)

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.

Drawing © Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)Level I
Drawing © Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)Level 2
Drawing © Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)Level 8
The building won the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award 2005

Facts about Netherland's Embassy

Total area:

8,500 m2


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

Royal Haskoning / Arup Berlin

Huygen Elwako / Arup Berlin

Project Management:
Royal Haskoning

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
The Hague

Last updated: December 19, 2013

See also

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