Dutch Embassy Berlin, Rem Koolhaas Building, Architect, Photograph, Location, OMA German project

Dutch Embassy Berlin Architecture

Netherlands Embassy Berlin Building, Germany, design by OMA, Rotterdam, NL

post updated 23 September 2023 ; 13 May 2023 ; 3 October 2021 ; 27 Mar 2007

Dutch Embassy Berlin Building

Information from Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA):

Netherlands Embassy Berlin

Dutch Embassy Berlin, OMA for Netherlands
Dutch Embassy Berlin photo : Christian Richters from OMA 270307

Netherlands Embassy Berlin – Building Information

Project: Netherlands Embassy Berlin
Status: Commission 1997. Completion 2003
Client: Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Dienst Gebouwen Buitenland, The Hague
Location: Berlin-Mitte, Rolandufer / Klosterstrasse
Site: Facing street corner, park and riverfront
Program: 8.500m2: offices 4.800m2; housing 1.500m2; parking 2.200m2
Prize: European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2005

Dutch Embassy Berlin building design by OMA
photograph © Adrian Welch

Netherlands Embassy in Berlin

In the wake of the reunification the German government decided to relocate the capital to Berlin ‘Mitte’ (Center).

The Netherlands, having sold their former embassy site after the War, was free to choose anew and preferred Roland Ufer in Mitte, the oldest Berlin settlement, next to the (new) government district of their main trade partner. The client demanded a solitary building, integrating requirements of conventional civil service security and therein security cameras with Dutch openness.

Dutch Embassy Berlin building facade by OMA
photo © Adrian Welch

Traditional (former West Berlin) city planning guidelines demanded the new building to complete the city block in 19th century fashion, the (former East Berlin) city planning officials had an open mind towards our proposal for a freestanding cube on a – block completing – podium.

Netherlands Embassy Berlin Dutch Embassy Berlin Building Netherlands Embassy Germany
photos © Adrian Welch

When we were given charge of the design of the entire site we were able to further explore a combination of obedience (fulfilling the block’s perimeter) and disobedience (building a solitary cube).

A continuous trajectory reaching all eight stories of the embassy shapes the building’s internal communication. The workspaces are the ‘leftover areas’ after the trajectory was ‘carved’ out of the cube and are situated along the facade.

Netherlands Building in Germany design by OMA Netherlands Embassy Berlin Building Netherlands Embassy Building Berlin
photos © Adrian Welch

Reception spaces are activated inside the cube. Other semi-public spaces are located closer to the facade and at one point cantilever out over the drop-off area. From the entry, the trajectory leads on via the library, meeting rooms, fitness area and restaurant to the roof terrace.

The trajectory exploits the relationship with the context, river Spree, Television Tower (‘Fernsehturm’), park and wall of embassy residences; part of it is a ‘diagonal void’ through the building that allows one to see the TV Tower from the park. The (slightly over pressurized) trajectory works as a main airduct from which fresh air percolates to the offices to be drawn off via the double (plenum) facade. This ventilation concept is part of a strategy to integrate more functions into one element.

This integration strategy is also used with the structural concept. The internal walls adjacent to the trajectory are load bearing beams that cross over each other enough to bring loads down. Hereby big open spaces are created on the lower floors of the building. Load baring – glass – mullions, allowed to fall out in case of a fire while still leaving the superstructure in tact, support the floor slabs where the trajectory meets the facade.

The access road between ‘cube’ and ‘residential wall’ acts as courtyard open to one side to allow a panoramic view over the Spree and the park. In order to emphasize the difference with the surrounding buildings which are clad with stone, the sockle and the wall with the residences are clad with aluminium.

Dutch Embassy Berlin – Building Information

Partners-in-charge: Rem Koolhaas, Ellen van Loon
Project Director: Erik Schotte
Project Architect: Michelle Howard, Gro Bonesmo
Team: Beth Margulis, Anu Leinonen, Daan Ooievaar, Adrianne Fisher, Robert Choeff, Christian Muller, Oliver Schütte, Fernando Romero Havaux, Matthias Hollwich, Katrin Thorhauer, Barbara Wolff, Bruce Fisher, Anne Filson, Udo Garritzman, Jenny Jones, Shadi Rahbaran, Mette Bos, Adam Kurdahl, Stan Aarts, Julien Desmedt, Annick Hess, Rombout Loman, Antti Lassila, Thomas Kolbasenko, Moritz von Voss, Paolo Costa, Carolus Traenkner, Susanne Manthey, Christiane Sauer, Tammo Prinz, Nils Lindhorst, Felix Thoma
Research: Bill Price, Marc Guinand

Structure: Royal Haskoning / Arup Berlin
Services: Huygen Elwako / Arup Berlin
Project Management: Royal Haskoning
Fire: Hosser Hass + Partner, Berlin
Lighting: OVI, Washington DC, Berlin
Curtains: Inside-Outside, Petra Blaisse

OMA – Dutch Embassy Berlin architects, known at the time as Office for Metropolitan Architecture.

Netherlands Embassy Berlin building information / image from OMA 270307

Location: Rolandufer, Website: Berlin, Germany, western Europe

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