By Hanna Rohst
The design „City above 'Memi' of Berlin“ is located close to “Alexanderplatz” in Berlin right at the corner “Karl-Liebknecht-Straße” and “Memhardstraße” (Memhardstraße 2-10). This Towerblock belongs to the last built prefabricated buildings of the last GDR-days in Berlin. In the current debate about affordable living space, it belongs to those residential buildings which can still offer favourable rents - because of still existing old rental agreements. However, the building does not correspond to the modern requirements and has therefore been considered for redevelopment. These residential buildings were originally established for privileged professors or people loyal to the old GDR government.
After the fall of the wall of Berlin in 1989, these buildings were surrounded by a diverse history and quite different rumours. Ranging from an utopia of a better life over a dystopian realism as an oasis of illegal drug consumption with all its implications. Today, it is a unique place of residence. It offers a prominent location in the centre of the city, favourable rents, and a social environment that remains to be unique even today.
I have chosen this residential building as a basis for my design because it carries, in my view, a potential for further development. Although it is a building made from prefabricated slabs, it nevertheless shows a structure in its façade which could have been intended as an adaptation of a ferro-concrete frame construction. I take up this structure and re-formulate it above the roof of the present building as a wooden frame construction. I have also essentially taken over the floor plans for the apartments and transformed them since these could become comfortable maisonettes - even according to today´s standards.
While the north - eastern façade of the building will be adopted unchanged for the following floors as well as the entrance hall with the subsequent access to the apartments, the partition walls should be manufactured of KertoR (lvl). This south - western façade (also equipped with KertoR (lvl) is arranged in a way that these walls with big round windows create different depths of the apartments. So, apartment interiors in different sizes are created with subsequent exterior apartment space used for balconies. Bigger apartments will have no balconies, the smaller apartments will have one. These convex and concave movements of the façade elements create a liveliness of the façade that stimulates a higher quality of city life as well as the life of its inhabitants. With all the spaces and balconies, the façade itself is turned into a kind of stage for everyday life...
Inspired by the „Capsule Tower“ in Tokyo, this principle with its round windows and its apartments behind it - shall be applied in a dramatized way. Big, drastic and sensitive at the same time in its diversity. One might wonder which part of façade looks more radical… I would argue: none of them!
Created as balance to the appearance of the existing façade, it helps creating a balance in the cityscape.