© GRAFT GmbH
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Future with origin

The historic post office grounds on Berlin Schöneberg's Hauptstraße were revitalised according to the concepts of the architects GRAFT. They extended it by two new buildings and activated the roofs for commercial use. The result was a modern mixed-use ensemble with flats, offices, restaurants and shops, open to the public, on 32,000 m².

The area around the building complex is one of the most popular residential areas in the city with numerous restaurants, shops and green spaces. The main road connects the southwest of Berlin with the centre of the city and is accordingly highly frequented.

The listed buildings of the postal area are characterised by their individual character, which results from the development of the buildings in different decades. They are spread over approximately 11,700 m² and divide the area into several inner courtyards, whose original industrial courtyard character is still perceptible. Additional windows in the previously unused roofs give the commercial units their cosy atmosphere. All commercial units are barrier-free.

In order to fit into the existing ensemble, the new buildings also received brick facades, so that the tradition of the listed areas is carefully taken up and continued by the revitalisation. In keeping with the historical courtyard passageways, the building was given a generous passageway from the main road into the courtyard. Using the latest technical aids, brick and geometry, monument and the parametric design strategies of the 21st century were brought together here in a creative way.

Interview

A TANDEM is usually a mobile for two. In order to adequately appreciate the impressive realisation of the project BRICKS Berlin Schöneberg by GRAFT, we interviewed three project partners: architects, manufacturers and fabricators. A TRIDEM!

The cooperation between the three of you has resulted in a very exciting building. The result of a good connection between architect, fabricator and manufacturer. What was the essence of your collaboration?

Thomas Willemeit (GRAFT): Bockhorn as a clinker brick supplier supported our vision from the first contact to the end of the project. Effective communication and the rapid response to enquiries contributed to the success of the project.

Ernst Buchow (Privatziegelei Bockhorn): A constructive cooperation between the project manager of Graft, Mr. Rümmele, and our technical advisor very quickly developed. The development work for the ceramic challenges was professionally sound and led to this extraordinary result in the end due to the good exchange of ideas between the participants.

Guido Janhsen (Janhsen Bau): "We as a craftsman's company often had the impression that we were not trusted with such a clinker facade. But we proved our abilities and implemented the ideas of the client and the architects.

Have you previously worked together on a project or how did your cooperation on this project come about?

Thomas Willemeit: We became aware of the private brickworks Bockhorn during research for a master plan for a new residential area in Caputh. For the Bricks project, we then decided on Bockhorn on the basis of a concrete brick that had been agreed with the monument conservation authorities and the technical possibilities in its implementation.

Ernst Buchow: The architects came to us in their search for the "right" material for the façade. The task was assigned to a specialist consultant from the brickworks, who then supervised the entire project from planning to execution.

Guido Janhsen: In our case, contact with GRAFT was established through the client. He knew our company from previous projects with facing brickwork.

Please tell us an anecdote about your cooperation.

Ernst Buchow: We were united by the idea of watching together when the scaffolding is dismantled and then jointly perceiving the impressive surface effect of the façade.

Mr. Willemeit, with what ideas for a design idea or a detail do you approach the fabricator/manufacturer?

Thomas Willemeit: In the case of bricks, we needed a manufacturer who could provide us with facing bricks, brick slips cut from them and the necessary know-how to erect weathered "wall corn". At the same time, we were looking for a brick that would successfully carry the history of the entire area into the 21st century.

Copyright: Bttr GmbH

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What was the building task and what specific solution did you find?

Thomas Willemeit: The area has a rich history and reflects the development of brick architecture over the last 150 years. GRAFT has been working on the site since 2014. We have gradually revitalised the listed buildings and converted them for office and commercial use. Two gaps in the buildings on the Hauptstraße and Belziger Straße were to be closed. The site itself was to remain accessible to the public and open as a passageway between the two streets. The two new buildings take up the tradition of the listed brick buildings and continue it in their own modern design language.

Guido Janhsen: The realisation of the clinker brick façade required a great deal of preparation to create the prefabricated elements for the entrance area. The conversion of the 3D drawings into formwork and the laying out of the clinker bricks also required a lot of effort.

Ernst Buchow: Colour differences between the conventionally bricked clinker wall surfaces and the elements with clinker facing bricks were taboo. As a manufacturer who also produces brick slips in addition to classic clinker bricks, we were able to solve this task well. Clinker bricks with very low water absorption were in demand as unperforated solid bricks, a discipline we have mastered for generations.

How did the project change from the first draft to the completed building?

Thomas Willemeit: We had originally planned the entrance on the main road as an open passageway. Unfortunately, it was given a glass door during the process. Fortunately, the parametric design was not affected by this. D3. What changes has the project undergone from the first draft to the completed building?

Thomas Willemeit: We had originally planned the entrance on the main road as an open passageway. Unfortunately, it was given a glass door during the process. Fortunately, the parametric design was not affected by this.

Guido Janhsen: The clinker brick façade was built exactly as GRAFT had planned.

What was particularly important during the on-site installation?

Thomas Willemeit: The transition of the curved surfaces in the entrance area of the main road was probably the greatest challenge. The craftsmen had to create the transition between the clinker facing layer, which rests manually on brackets, and the suspended prefabricated elements very precisely. In our parametric 3D model, we were able to optimise the geometry in the course of the planning process with the manufacturer's specifications so that these two components could be perfectly matched.

Guido Janhsen: This project was new territory for everyone because of the special construction method. But the stone used was ideal for it.

Thank you very much for the interview, Mr. Willemeit, Mr. Buchow and Mr. Janhsen.

Copyright: Bttr GmbH (except middle picture: © Trockland Management GmbH)

What was the building task and what specific solution did you find?

Thomas Willemeit: The area has a rich history and reflects the development of brick architecture over the last 150 years. GRAFT has been working on the site since 2014. We have gradually revitalised the listed buildings and converted them for office and commercial use. Two gaps in the buildings on the Hauptstraße and Belziger Straße were to be closed. The site itself was to remain accessible to the public and open as a passageway between the two streets. The two new buildings take up the tradition of the listed brick buildings and continue it in their own modern design language.

Guido Janhsen: The realisation of the clinker brick façade required a great deal of preparation to create the prefabricated elements for the entrance area. The conversion of the 3D drawings into formwork and the laying out of the clinker bricks also required a lot of effort.

Ernst Buchow: Colour differences between the conventionally bricked clinker wall surfaces and the elements with clinker facing bricks were taboo. As a manufacturer who also produces brick slips in addition to classic clinker bricks, we were able to solve this task well. Clinker bricks with very low water absorption were in demand as unperforated solid bricks, a discipline we have mastered for generations.

How did the project change from the first draft to the completed building?

Thomas Willemeit: We had originally planned the entrance on the main road as an open passageway. Unfortunately, it was given a glass door during the process. Fortunately, the parametric design was not affected by this. D3. What changes has the project undergone from the first draft to the completed building?

Thomas Willemeit: We had originally planned the entrance on the main road as an open passageway. Unfortunately, it was given a glass door during the process. Fortunately, the parametric design was not affected by this.

Guido Janhsen: The clinker brick façade was built exactly as GRAFT had planned.

What was particularly important during the on-site installation?

Thomas Willemeit: The transition of the curved surfaces in the entrance area of the main road was probably the greatest challenge. The craftsmen had to create the transition between the clinker facing layer, which rests manually on brackets, and the suspended prefabricated elements very precisely. In our parametric 3D model, we were able to optimise the geometry in the course of the planning process with the manufacturer's specifications so that these two components could be perfectly matched.

Guido Janhsen: This project was new territory for everyone because of the special construction method. But the stone used was ideal for it.

Thank you very much for the interview, Mr. Willemeit, Mr. Buchow and Mr. Janhsen.

Copyright: GRAFT GmbH

Published: December 7, 2020

This interview was conducted by: Melanie Schlege, World-Architects.com.

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