In the heart of the district of Berlin-Kreuzberg, the commercial facilities in Prinzessinnenstraße were redeveloped and supplemented with a new building. In the middle of the popular neighbourhood and yet quietly located, the open spaces of the complex extend over 5 backyards and a roof terrace.
By redefining the open spaces, the design provides answers to the questions of tomorrow’s working world. The design mediates between modern commercial charm, high usability and more greenery in the dense district. Now car-free, the courtyard becomes a space for movement and recreation during and after working hours for the users of the surrounding units. It functions as a meeting place and at the same time as a productive space for working outdoors.
The space is structured through multifunctional elements in exposed concrete quality. They function both as comfortable seating and as raised beds with attractive and diverse planting. Equipped with power sockets, they allow working mobile in the outdoor space.
The paving covers the courtyards like a light shimmering carpet, giving them a modern elegance. In addition to the generous planting beds, in which trees and solitary shrubs are nestled by shade perennials and grasses, the green structure also extends vertically along the building facades.
The challenge in designing the roof terrace was to find an appropriate balance between maximum green space and high usability in a small area. In response, the design defines three main areas.
The design lives from its clear, precise language of forms in combination with a contrasting materiality. The combination of hot-dip galvanized industrial-looking steel, the natural and reused wooden blocks as seating elements, and the colorful, moving perennial planting creates a suspenseful yet harmonious ensemble.
The movement area is deliberately designed to be very compact and kept free of fixed furnishing elements. This allows a flexible use for lunch breaks, yoga, work or parties.
The colourful perennial and grass plantings harmonise with the bright orange of the building and give the terrace a lively and moving structure. Complemented by small trees and vertical greenery, the planting improves the microclimate in the dense urban area.
The walkway made of serrated steel grating acts as an intermediary between the paved and the planted areas. It serves as an additional movement and recreation area and leads over a sedum-geophyte planting. Due to different dimensions, the plants grow from below through the grating depending on the intensity of use and thus become visible.
Photo credits: © Marcus Witte
Location: Berlin-Kreuzberg, Prinzessinnenstraße
Design year: 2018-2020
Year of construction: 2020
Area: Yard: 3.300m2, Rooftop: 190 m2
Architects involved: Thomas Hillig Architekten Client: GSG GmbH & co KG