By Simone Wallenstein & Albert Leonte
Throughout the recent course of time, the intersection at Oranienburger Tor is a microcosm of much of Berlin’s rapid and adaptive development. This can clearly be seen at Tacheles, the former shopping mall built in 1908 turned art house. After a sit-in lead by a group of artists prevented its demolition in the late 1980s, Tacheles became synonymous with the art scene throughout Berlin in the 1990s. It drew attention from working artists and theater companies with its ample space for galleries, exhibitions and theater productions. In 2011, a development company purchased the property, forcing the subculture that thrived there to relocate to other areas of the city. As one gazes upon Tacheles today, we see the remnants of its bohemian past while in a city where the art community is still a cornerstone of the culture. The juxtapositions of new and old are a large part of Berlin’s contemporary landscape, where art and consumerism can be mutually beneficial.
Oranienburger Tor has immense potential for once more breaking standards in new development. Our structure’s statement is to break normal conventions, all the while making literal and figurative connections by building a bridge and making the entire roof area available.
The art house 'Tacheles' resides proudly next to a newly built glassy facade and a carefully restored corner building. On the intersecting Friedrichstraße the block continues with a row of generic apartment buildings, ending in an empty but beautiful historical office and apartment building. Behind these structures the block is currently empty. In this empty lot the redevelopment of the area is already in the works.
Our approach is to leave the existing structures as untouched as possible but extending the amount of living space by designing a detached, very light, self bearing structure on their roofs. Not only are we building across several buildings, but by creating a structure that is incredibly rigid and self supporting we can even span over gaps between buildings. We can react very flexibly to different heights of more than one roof, different widths and lengths.
The space inside this structure can be filled very flexibly. We designed several wall modules that can be combined to apartments leaving space in between. It is possible to create very dense areas inside the structure to use the space as much as possible but it is also possible to create a very loose pattern of rooms to obtain the light appeal of the structure it spans from one rooftop to the other. Given its history as an artistic center, the Tacheles building will preserve its cultural uses as it was. We want to make sure there is space provided for creative people to live and to express themselves.