GSW Headquarters

GSW Headquarters in Berlin, Germany by Sauerbruch Hutton Architects, 1999

One of five finalists for the Royal Institute of British Architects' Stirling Prize for the year 2000 (won by Alsop and Störmer for London's Peckham Library), Sauerbruch Hutton Architects' much-publicized extension and renovation of the GSW Headquarters in Berlin, Germany is featured here with the firm's text and images.

This design forms the extension to an office tower which was one of the first projects to be built during the reconstruction of Berlin in the 1950s. The design endeavors to combine the "as-found" fragments of the city into a three-dimensional composition through which the existing building is able to be (re-)integrated into its context.

The idea of conglomerate growth is not only accepted but put forward as a model for urban development. So the new ensemble responds as much to the baroque logic of the street plan as it does to the rules of nineteenth-century urbanism, and it also absorbs the object-like quality of the 1950's tower and registers the confrontational space which had developed between the high-rises either side of the Berlin Wall. In this combination of the disparate spatial configurations of consecutive generations, the new high-rise slab is the element associated with the present and the future.

The design of the high-rise slab is generated by a concern for the workplace in the city, and by a commitment to an architecture that is economical with the (built and natural) resources of the environment. This building not only offers an exemplary working environment in its passive control of energy consumption, but at the same time it redefines an architecture in which the value of sensous space is reassessed.