After winning a competition by the Feuersozietät Berlin Brandenburg, GRAFT has been commissioned to carry out the expansion and revitalization of its company headquarters in Berlin. The long-established company has been headquartered for around 90 years at Am Karlsbad 4-5 in Berlin – located to the south of the Landwehr Canal, opposite Potsdamer Platz and the Berlin State Library.
GRAFT will complete the representative perimeter block with the addition of a new-build ensemble. The site-specific architecture will reinterpret and reinforce the urban block structure and respectfully write a new chapter in the history of the existing listed building stock.
The new volumes will directly adjoin the current Feuersozietät building from 1936 and expand southwards as far as Bissingzeile, utilizing an area formerly designated as a parking lot. Through joining the historical building with the new volumes, a campus with internal pathways and four greened courtyards will be created. Each courtyard will have its own identity, with the large courtyard of the existing building forming the heart of the campus.
Historically, the northeast side of the block is characterized by large administrative buildings and its creation of a distinct urban boundary. The new volume will take up the original building line of the street Am Karlsbad. While its façade cites design elements from the existing building stock – for example its central-axis symmetry and staggered stories – it will simultaneously develop a specific character of its own. The design deliberately highlights the transition from a punctuated façade to the more open areas in the building’s central section.
The perimeter block will also be closed to the southwest along Bissingzeile. Here, however, it will take up and develop the meandering historical logic of protruding and set-back building volumes, creating distinct addresses, entryways, and “front gardens” that retain the scale of a residential street.
The façade of the building along Bissingzeile is characterized by a 5.4-meter-wide grid that extends across the numerous volumes. This creates the impression that the individual elements are a uniform whole, reinforcing the idea of the campus. As a result of the chosen floor heights and the unifying effect of the façade, the different building volumes can be utilized for different purposes, whether apartments or offices.
The project’s inner-city location provides excellent public transport connections, with bus, subway, and suburban rail links close by, but it also offers the opportunity to augment conventional car-centric mobility concepts in a multimodal way. Environmentally friendly alternatives, such as cycling, shared transport services, and e-mobility have been integrated into the planning concept, taking into account their visibility, accessibility, and convenience. Consequently, on the ground floor there will be secure, covered bike parking spaces, shower and changing facilities, and the provision of basic repair services.
The whole campus will be conceived as a mobility hub, meaning that the modes of transport won’t just be housed in an underground garage.