Brandlhuber & Emde & Burlon & Muck Petzet
With Terrassenhaus Berlin, Brandlhuber+ Emde and Burlon / Muck Petzet Architects try to answer the ongoing challenges of the market: rising property prices and construction costs increase the pressure on architects and builders, at the expense of social and spatial qualities. Rather than giving into this pressure, the project exchanges economic benefit for collective space.
The project was a private initiative to create an exhibition and studio building for private and public use, similar to the architects’ atelier and gallery building, Brunnenstrasse 9. After purchasing the former junkyard in Berlin-Wedding, the client approached the architects to develop the mixed-use building embedded in a heterogeneous neighborhood of commercial and residential blocks. The main focus of the client was on preserving the exterior space, made accessible to users and the neighborhood.
Contrary to the original idea of a small-scale development, the architects instead proposed a larger project, arguing for the client’s responsibility as a landowner to take advantage of the land and its location in the city. In doing so, the architects referred to a zoning plan from 1958, which allowed the maximum construction of a five-story structure for commercial use.
The design updates the typology of the terrace house as a contemporary and site-specific form, replicating the ground five times in the form of stepped terraces. The platforms are created by setbacks, defined by the length of the exterior staircases, following the German tread ratio of 19:26 cm. This creates the platforms’ five-meter depth, expanding the size of the apartments. The stepped terraces on the building’s rear façade therefore produce a negative form on the street side, creating a covered public space.
The building’s envelope is built out roughly in concrete and plywood, only including central cores with elevators and bathrooms. All other additions, such as spatial separations, are made by the users themselves according to their needs. Although today the project meets the legal standards of a commercial building, it is aimed at overcoming the separation between living and working, commercial and residential, questioning existing norms.
Social norms in architecture structure our expectations of living together and often reduce the complexity of social interaction. At the same time, they form a framework in which the users can behave safely and freely. The Terrassenhaus Berlin manages to raise the questions of private and public by introducing a building model for the urban context. With their abnormal depth, the terraces create a degree of distance and privacy, while at the same time, the external staircases—connecting the communal garden with the public roof—produce encounters of every kind—wanted and unwanted.
Location: Berlin, Germany
Client: Lobe Block - Olivia Reynolds - Elke Falat
Project Team: Luise Angelmaier - Sarina Arnold - Romina Falk - Tobias Hönig - Martha Michalski - Birgit Müller - Alexine Sammut - Eva Sievert Asmussen - Markus Rampl - Christian Rapp - Lukas Vögel - Marco Wagner - Wolfram Winter - Natalia Zhukova
Area: 3396.0 m²
Engineers: Andreas Schulz - Pichler Engineers
Photography: Erica Overmeer - Hisao Suzuki
Text: Michaela Friedberg - Olaf Grawert