The Gebauer Courts are a listed commercial courtyard complex from the 19th century directly on the banks of the Spree in a central location in Berlin-Charlottenburg. In the course of modernization, the area was redensified and new buildings were added. This has created a contrasting ensemble of historic buildings and modern architecture.
The open space design aims to mediate between the different architectural characters and to give the heterogeneity a coherent basis. The different courtyards can now be read as one unit again. At the same time, the open space meets the requirements for use as a commercial courtyard with standing and flowing traffic. Nonetheless, the functional separation is eliminated by creating complementary offerings for employees and users in the courtyards and on the waterfront. In addition, the property will be made accessible to the public along the waterfront. The is ensemble reconstructed successively so that the use of the area is possible in parallel.
A consistent carpet of recycled cobblestones forms the basis of the design and brings vibrancy with its subtle play of colors. The original material, now sawn and reinstalled, mediates between the historic and modern character and facilitates walkability. The ‘Gebauer Gold Band’, a brass band in the paving serves as orientation and refers to historical aspects. In addition, brass-colored metal nails mark the public walk-way through the property.
The riverbank areas along the public walkway were designed to be particularly inviting and accessible. Benches and seating steps offer a variety of places to sit and relax. By selectively adding furnishings and plantings, a user-friendly enhancement of the facility was achieved in harmony with the high-frequency use and the preservation of historic monuments.
To the outside, the courtyards present themselves through landscaped front gardens. In this respect, the planting areas and perennial beds provide a representative prelude.
Along the waterfront, some sections are still being planned and will complement the ensemble in the following years.
Since not enough rainwater can be infiltrated into the Spree due to the high groundwater level and the restriction on discharging rainwater into the river, the design responds with a system of underground retention volumes in which the rainwater is collected and then discharged into the river in a throttled manner. Infiltration-capable paving is also used to allow a portion of the rainwater to percolate on site.
Plant selection is also sensitive to the issue of water. For example, Salix alba, which occurs naturally in riverine landscapes, can root well even in areas with high groundwater levels.
Photo credits: © Marcus Witte
Aim: Redesign of the commercial courts in the listed ensemble ‘Gebauer Courts’
Location: Franklinstraße 9-15a, 10587 Berlin
Design year: since 2017
Year of construction: since 2019
Area: 8,750 sqm courts + 2,600 sqm front yards
Tree nursery: Lorberg
Architects involved: Linie Creutzfeldt Architekten, IBG/Günter Grünert, Thomas Hillig Architekten GmbH BDA, Bollinger + Fehlig Architekten GmbH BDA
Client: GSG GmbH & co KG