Berlin: Netherlands Embassy (Germany)

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 02_Stephen Varady Photo ©

After Germany re-unified and made Berlin the capital, the Netherlands selected a site in Mitte, beside the river Spree. The design by Rem Koolhaas extended OMA’s explorations into wrapping the functions of a building around an elaborate circulation path (as in the Rotterdam Kunsthal and Seattle Central Library).

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 04_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 05_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 06_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 07_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 08_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 09_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 10_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 11_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 12_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The existing planning rules asked for a completion of the ‘Berlin Block’, however OMA were able to also argue for innovation within a composition built to the perimeter with bridges across from one to the other.

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 13_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 14_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 15_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 16_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA - plan
Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA – Plan

The design contains an eroded cube housing the embassy functions adjacent to an L-shaped residential building. Once again, OMA skilfully negotiate a modern architectural language that pivots between the commercial and industrial, eliciting historic memories of both from this area of Berlin.

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 17_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 18_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 19_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 20_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 21_Stephen Varady Photo ©

OMA description states:

‘The Netherlands Embassy is a disciplined cube with equally disciplined irregularities which aims to facilitate a better understanding of Berlin, confronting divergent ideas about how the city, with its complexity, heaviness, opacity, and beauty, should build / rebuild. Traditional planning guidelines of the former West Berlin demanded that new buildings in the neighbourhood (the Roldandufer in Mitte) reflect the local 19th century architectural style. Planning officials in the former East Berlin were more open to innovation. As a result, OMA combined an obedient approach (strictly fulfilling the block’s perimeter) with a disobedient one (building an isolated cube).

The embassy cuts the single, contiguous structure implied by Berlin’s regulations into two parts: a cube accommodating offices, and a wall – the same height as the cube (27m, as regulations dictate) and only semi-opaque – surrounding the cube on two sides, accommodating embassy residences, and creating a protected internal courtyard. Four pedestrian bridges span the courtyard and link the cube with the wall at varying levels.

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 22_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 23_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Inside the cube, the sense of security and stability required for an embassy co-exists with the free circulation provided by a 200m path that zig-zags up through the eight storeys, determining the arrangement of the building’s spaces.

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 24_Stephen Varady Photo ©

From the entrance, the trajectory of the path leads to the library, on to the meeting rooms, skirting the offices, leading up to the fitness area and finally the restaurant on the roof terrace. This trajectory also distributes fresh air drawn from the double plenum façade to the work spaces (the areas that the path has carved out of the cube).

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 25_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 26_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 27_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 28_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 29_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 30_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 31_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 32_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 33_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 34_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 35_Stephen Varady Photo ©

At one point the path escapes the constraints of the cube and cantilevers over the courtyard.

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 36_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 37_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 38_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 39_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 40_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The regularity of the cube’s glass and steel facade is disturbed again at moments where the path grazes the exterior, making itself visible from the outside and providing strategic views of the Spree, and the television tower.’ – OMA

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 41_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 42_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 43_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 44_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 45_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 46_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 47_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 48_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 49_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 50_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The circulation path and planning of both buildings is manipulated and choreographed to create a significant framed view of the Berlin television tower (Berliner Fernsehturm).

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 51_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 52_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 53_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 54_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 55_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 56_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 57_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 58_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 59_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 60_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 61_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA 62_Stephen Varady Photo ©

 

DRAWINGS

Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA - plan
Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA – Plan
Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA - section
Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA – Section
Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA - unfolded plan
Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA – Unfolded Plan
Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA - unfolded section
Netherlands Embassy, Berlin by OMA – Unfolded Section

 

IMAGES

 

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Place: Netherlands Embassy, Berlin

Architect: OMA (1997-2003)

Photographer: Stephen Varady

Additional Information: EU Mies Award and El Croquis 131/132

Map: Netherlands Embassy, Berlin

 

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