DaimlerChrysler Immobilien GmbH
DM 55 million
In 1991 the city authorities opted for a conservative masterplan for the redevelopment of the devastated Potsdamer Platz quarter of Berlin (close to the former line of the Berlin Wall), rejecting more radical proposals including those initially submitted by RSHP.
A further competition for the Daimler Chrysler site was won by Renzo Piano and Christoph Kohlbecker. RSHP was subsequently commissioned to design three buildings on the site with a total area of 57,800 m².
The brief stipulated that designs work within the context of the traditional Berlin square block, with buildings no more than nine storeys high formed around potentially oppressive internal courts. To one side, the buildings had to address an enclosed retail arcade raised several storeys above ground level. Working within these constraints, the practice was able to subtly subvert the municipal masterplan to produce buildings of strikingly contemporary appearance which, most significantly, utilised a low-energy servicing agenda.
The key to this strategy was the erosion of the blocks at their south-east corners to allow daylight to penetrate the central courts, which were turned into covered atria to illuminate interiors, and facilitate views out of the buildings. The atria are naturally ventilated throughout the year augmented in the winter with mechanical heating.
The two office buildings and one residential block were designed for natural ventilation throughout, with intensive research into the servicing programme partly funded by a European Union grant. As a result, it was estimated that energy consumption in the office buildings would be half that generated by a conventionally air-conditioned building. The facades of the buildings incorporated clear and opaque glass panels, solid areas of ceramic tile cladding, and external and internal blinds, a sophisticated mix which allowed the internal environment to be adjusted in response to the requirements of users.
Visually striking, the practice’s contribution to the Potsdamer Platz development challenged conventional wisdom, producing a pioneering low-energy environment for business accommodation.
Today, the use of this technology saves about 50% on primary energy consumption, compared to standard air-conditioning systems. Another suspended glass facade can be adjusted for various weather conditions while still allowing light and fresh air to enter the building. Cumulatively, these measures reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 70% compared to conventional methods.
Rainwater is collected from Potsdamer's rooftops in three underground cisterns, and urban water is also captured through an extensive system of nineteen pumps and two rows of filters which are located in two central water cisterns. The water is also purified and filtered through natural means by the purification biotopes in the north, main and south waters, encouraging the development of a remarkable microclimate. Approximately 20 million litres of drinking water are saved through this system each year.
Potsdamer Platz was the first city district to be certified by the DGNB – the German Sustainable Building Council – and now has a Gold award.
Laurie Abbott, Yasmin Al-Ani-Spence, Michael Barth, Elliot Boyd, Sabine Coldrey, Hal Currey, Mike Davies, Barbara Faigle, Rowena Fuller, Marco Goldschmied, Lennart Grut, James Leathem, Nick Malby, Tina Manis, Richard Paul, Robert Peebles, Kim Quazi, Richard Rogers, Neil Southard, Martin White, John Young
Gross Floor Area
57 800 m²
Ove Arup and Partners / Weiske & Partner GmBH / Knebel & Schumacher
Rp + k Sozietät (joint venture with J Rogers Preston & Partners) / Schmidt-Reuter und Partner
Davis Langdon & Everest / Drees & Sommer AG
Kruger & Mohler
Müller Altvattar + C Barasel AG GmBH
Institut für Fassadentechnik IFFT
Debis Risk Consult GmBH / Hosser Hass & Partner
Schmidt-Reuter und Partner
Mm Warburg Schlüter & Co