Monday, March 15, 2010

Restoration Center Berlin

Restoration Center Berlin in Berlin, Germany by UTArchitects

Photographs are copyright Ulrich Schwarz.

In the southern part of Berlin the Restoration Center Berlin (Restaurierung Zentrum Berlin) occupies an 18th-century plantation whose barns were later demolished only to have garages built in their place. UTArchitects was retained to renovate a former farmhouse and design a new workshop building for the organization. The latter was enabled by the destruction of the garages, a remnant of the German Democratic Republic days. The design recalls the old farmhouse while responding to its site in a suitably contemporary manner.

The site plan illustrates the workshop's relationship to the farmhouse and the street. A courtyard is created by the L-configuration of the two buildings with street access between the two buildings. The workshop presents a primarily solid elevation to the street and the neighboring apartment buildings. The metal roof wraps down the facade and five vertical windows with wood fins subtly express the two floors within.

The workshop's courtyard elevation is entirely different: open where the street is closed, glassy instead of metallic. The openness of the courtyard side is furthered by glass partitions in the second floor space. UTArchitects attribute this yin and yang-like approach as a suitable response to the context. Privacy is provided on the street and connections to the farmhouse and the courtyard are created on the other side. This is a fairly simple and straightforward parti, but the relationship between roof and wall make the workshop an excellent site-specific design.

Angled in plan, the metal roof cantilevers up to four meters (13 feet), an extension of the gable roof that echoes the existing farmhouse and many other traditional buildings. The roof's extension beyond the long glass wall gives the impression that a solid wall was removed, revealing a glass box within, as if the architects started with a barn-shaped building and eroded it so it could serve its purpose. As a building for training carpenters in restoration it is fitting that it visually reminds them about the past as well as its influence on what comes after.