By Alexander Tepper & Martijn Monne (Tepper Design Studio)
A European cultural hotspot for Berlin
We propose to transform 'Galeria Kaufhof am Ostbahnhof' in Berlin to a European cultural hotspot. The big department store sits beside the train station Ostbahnhof, former East Berlin. This area was heavily damaged during the war. In DDR times it was largely demolished to make room for, among other things, the Kaufhalle. The former center store opened its doors in 1979 and was the only store in the country where one could buy more luxurious consumer goods. This had such a force of attraction that even people from Poland and Tsjech Republic came to shop there. One could say that this building brought people together and had an international allure.
This changed after 'Die Wende' and an era came to an end when the building became second to the Kaufhalle at Alexanderplatz. By June 2017 the kaufhalle am Ostbahn will close for good. What is left is an uncanny area with scattered urban patterns of pre-DDR-Plattenbauten apartment buildings and even uglier commercial architecture from after 'die Wende'. And important to mention a lot of empty space. But there is an upside. The building and its surroundings is situated between the entertainment area around the Warschauer Brücke, the river Spree and the train station Ostbahnhof on the one side and the famous Techno Temple Berghain on the other. So there is true potential in the location, the building and its history.
We'd like to transform the building to be a catalyst for urban renewal. We'd like the building to be a destination and bring people, of all different walks of life, together like it did in the old days. It should function on different scales. From the city, country, European and global level to the scale of the borough. It should be city in a city or in other words 'the World in one building'.
The major part of the, 46.000 m2 topped with 5 extra stories, building will consist of a housing program variating from short stay, semi-permant to permanent dwellings. By doing this we try to help solve the shortage of affordable living space in Berlin. In total the building will have 2040 living units. Variating from 15 m2 to 60 m2.
The second topic we like to address with the building is to help stop the segregation of the people living in the European Union. We're not talking politics here but actually like to facilitate a one on one experience between to people. The focus is on the younger generations who don't think in boarders but in relations. These 'Easyjetsetters' have friends all over Europe and further. Getting on a plane for them is as normal as getting on a bus. These people have the future! To maximize the potential of meeting and getting to know each other we propose to add working spaces. Since we spent a lot of time at work this is a logical next step. The ground floor, first and second floor are programmed with work units.
The last part of the added program is about celebrating life together with the notion of 'unity in diversity'. This official slogan of the European Union should be put into practise. We propose a European Cultural Center. It will consist of multi-functional spaces for exhibitions, workshops, lectures and even a nightclub. The former parking lot will be transformed to a plaza on basement level where also events of all sorts can be held. Hopefully the building will become a hotspot that connects everybody from everywhere, whatever their nationality, sex, age or religion and we can keep building the European dream.