Project type: Residential, Office
Location: Holzmarktstraße, Berlin, Germany
Client: Genossenschaft für urbane Kreativität (GuK)
Status: under Construction
GRAFT and Kleihues + Kleihues
Under the framework of open dialogue, the two architecture firms GRAFT and Kleihues + Kleihues, as well as the “Genossenschaft für urbane Kreativität” (“Cooperative for Urban Creativity”) developed an exemplary complex of buildings which seeks to find answers to the social, economic and ecological questions of our times.
The central idea is to create an inspiring and vivid place which sets new benchmarks with respect to the relationship between work and living as well as between public life and privacy. Construction started in 2015 on the northern part of the “Holzmarkt” area along the River Spree which was home to the legendary “Bar 25” until 2011.
The design for Eckwerk draws on the characteristic qualities of the location, picking up the grain of the surrounding streets and referring to the “Stadtbahnviadukt” which runs like a golden thread through the center of the city and is a defining element of the site. To the north, the complex steps up vertically in topographic steps, creating a passage between the building and the viaduct – a place of interaction with the main entrances and access to public functions. The solid base of the building complex is the same height as the viaduct, its roof acting as an urban terrace with a view out over the water. Placed on top of the plinth are five independently accessible towers, each providing highly flexible spaces which can be used either for working or living.
The terraced landscape of the interior space is designed as a multi-level public market place and serves as a hybrid indoor-outdoor area for the co-working spaces. Covered by a delicate steel and glass construction, it can be used all year round.
The decision to divide the program into separate towers is not only an attempt to meet the requirements of zoning laws but also creates a sense of openness as well as diverse views and outlooks, breaking down the boundary between the house and the city (private and public). The towers have a staggered arrangement decreasing in scale towards the river to afford direct views of the Spree, also from the buildings in the back row.
The five towers are connected by a publicly accessible “experience trail”, the so-called “mountain path”. It connects the separate parts of the ensemble and opens into semi-public spaces for interaction and relaxation. Meandering through the building, it can be accessed by the public without interfering with private work or living areas. It is conceived as a continuation of the Spree riverbank walk, as stipulated in the citizen-initiated referendum “Spree riverbank for all”. By opening the site and much of the building to the public, it interweaves public circulation into a private development. In contrast to the solid, durable nature of the base of the complex, the towers embody lightness and changeability through their wooden frontage. Wood is both a renewable material and also part of the tradition of the site, the former riverside timber market.
The floor plans as well as the facades follow a modular design principle, making it possible individually modify and adapt the building.
Like urban acupuncture, the Eckwerk project manipulates the natural tendencies of socio-economic change in the urban matrix, proving that affordable housing in high price areas is possible.