18.7.2018

David Kohn Architects win major Berlin housing competition

David Kohn Architects has been named the overall winner of a prestigious international competition to design an 75-home apartment building in central Berlin. Lützowufer Berlin, designed in collaboration with Berlin-based Nord Studio, represents David Kohn Architects’ first major commission outside the UK and the practice’s first foray into housing.

Lützowufer Berlin, designed in collaboration with Berlin-based Nord Studio, represents David Kohn Architects’ first major commission outside the UK and the practice’s first foray into housing.

Almost 80 practices from around the world responded to the call for entries by the developer client, Euroboden. Following a two stage process, David Kohn Architects and Berlin-based Nord Studio were successful with a scheme that the jury praised for its conceptual clarity, efficient design and the contribution it offers to the surrounding area in Berlin’s central Mitte district.

The approximately 7,000 sqm proposed development draws upon the site’s historic context, and seeks to mediate between the very different architectural languages of nearby buildings: robust 19th century industrial buildings and a sequence of Postmodernist blocks. David Kohn Architects were also inspired by the links between German and British architectural culture, explored in Herman Muthesius’s 1905 Das Englische Haus which details the particularities of British homes such as the diminutive architecture of bays, inglenooks and a concern for a building’s silhouette.

In response, the seven storey building is characterised by a zigzagging principal façade, where a combination of pressed metal panels and terracotta tiles is used to provide rich textures and fine detailing. This lively façade creates a series of crisp bay windows to each apartment, as well as a set of enlarged bays highlighting the main building entrance and community event space. References to architectural history – specifically Burghley House and what John Summerson described as a ‘prodigy house’ – continue inside with open fireplaces in many apartments. A shared picturesque rooftop garden is a playful communal space, bristling with terracotta chimneys and lanterns that reference both English prodigy houses and the chimney of a nearby factory building, and bring new rhythms to the roofline when viewed from a distance.

The development contains a range of different-sized homes including studio apartments, garden maisonettes, 2-3 bed apartments and a series of penthouses. All enjoy dual aspect and long southern views and layouts that maximise natural light while ensuring privacy for residents. The jury also praised the David Kohn Architects’ design for facilitating future customisation and adaptability.

As David Kohn Architects’ international reputation continues to grow, the Lützowufer Berlin joins a series of other major projects that together represent a step-change in the practice’s portfolio, including the new V&A Photography Centre (opening in October 2018), the Greenwich Design District and a new quad for New College Oxford.

As the Lützowufer Berlin project moves forward, the practice is keen to win further work in Germany and is presently recruiting for German-speaking architects with experience of delivering residential schemes in Germany along with excellent design skills.

 

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