06/11/2017: New Urbanity at Nordhafenplatz in Berlin’s Europacity

gmp wins competition for mixed-use areas in Quartier Heidestrasse

Design Volkwin Marg, Hubert Nienhoff and Hans-Joachim Paap with Martin Hakiel
Project management Hans-Joachim Paap,
Martin Hakiel
Competition team Fariborz Rahimi, Anna Bogucka, Cristina Iore, Tommaso Miti, Ausias Gonzalez, Moamen El Soudani, Pablo Rodríguez Parada, Davide Rosa, Dina Fahim
Client Quartier Heidestraße GmbH
GFA MI 1: 35.600m² / MI 2: 29.600m²

In the Heidestrasse precinct within the new Europacity district near Berlin’s central station, mixed-use areas MI 1 and 2 will be built by architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp). The two city blocks frame Nordhafenplatz, the square at Nordhafen (north harbor) that will form the urban center of the emerging neighborhood. The architectural concept focuses on the interplay between diversity and unity – by means of different scales, from the urban district to the block to the individual buildings.

The new Europacity district is being created north of Berlin’s central station, the city’s main train station, in the former no man’s land between East and West, and between the rail line to the west and the Berlin–Spandau ship canal to the east. Within Europacity, Quartier Heidestrasse extends along the site west of the arterial road with the same name. The two mixed-use areas, together with Nordhafenplatz in the middle, form the northern end of this development. Here the land is primarily earmarked for residential use, but the buildings along Heidestrasse will host commercial use.

As the overall form and functional distribution are prescribed, the plan configuration and facade articulation are the constituent elements of the architectural concept. Following the proven tradition of the European city, the larger city blocks are subdivided into individual building units. Keeping to gmp’s typical principle of diversity in unity, the buildings, each with its own address and identity, constitute a holistic element within the city. Each block consists of four apartment buildings whose sizes vary according to the site and its orientation. All the buildings, however, have vertical circulation serving three or four units per floor. The stair towers have been moved from the middle of the building to the outside, allowing the living spaces to predominantly face the courtyard and thus shielding them from noise, while the building cores have appended loggias. In this way, the image presented to the public realm is as a whole one of a calm facade that fits the district’s character. Facing Heidestrasse are also five buildings for commercial use, including three in block MI 1 and two in block MI 2. With a building depth of 18 meters, the plans are laid out with an occupied middle zone that enables flexible use and possibilities for subdivision. Toward the more frequented urban spaces along Heidestrasse and Nordhafenplatz, there will be ground-floor areas for retail.

The facades of the commercial building units at Heidestrasse are divided visually by a tectonic system of columns and beams. The horizontals and verticals, sometimes narrow and sometimes wide, protrude variously to add variety to the individual buildings. Facing Nordhafenplatz, the largest public space in the district, the two lower stories are combined and treated as a single base. The third facade on the square is that of the linear commercial building, which is similarly articulated, and together they frame the public place in a uniform way. Taking a cue from the surroundings, light gray/silver-colored bricks have been chosen as the chief material. The textile roller blinds that provide sun protection for the living areas also add a contrast of color, with MI 1 conceived in a bronze tone and MI 2 in a slightly different brass tone.

Grauwald / gmp Architekten

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