Book Review: GSW Headquarters Berlin

GSW Headquarters Berlin by Sauerbruch Hutton Architects
Lars Müller Publishers, 2000
Paperback, 256 pages

Completed in 1999, British architect Sauerbruch Hutton's GSW Headquarters is composed of five distinct volumes: the "baguette", the "baguetttini", the "pillbox", the existing tower, and the high-rise. Typically the high-rise portion gets the most attention, its south-facing facade a random layout of colored shades, ranging from white to maroon with pinks, oranges and reds in-between. But reading this book, one realizes that the design's interest doesn't stop there. For example, the "baguette", a low-rise retail and office space, features a two-story atrium space along its length, and the "pillbox's" construction utilizes a cantilevered construction to give the impression its floating above the "baguette". Regardless, the high-rise is the most prominent element and the most forward-thinking, incorporating a double-wall system and other sustainable features, giving it depth beyond the colored facade. In addition to these parts of the Headquarters, the book covers the history of the site and the housing association client, the project's competition, the landscape, the buildings' structures and low-energy ideas, all via a generous amount of drawings and photographs. In the end, the book gives a thorough understanding of the project but also an idea of what direction commercial architecture should take.