NETHERLANDS EMBASSY, GERMANY, BERLIN, 2003
Royal Netherlands Embassy to the Federal Republic of Germany
The Netherlands Embassy is a disciplined cube with equally disciplined irregularities which aims to facilitate a better understanding of Berlin, confronting divergent ideas about how the city, with its complexity, heaviness, opacity, and beauty, should build / rebuild. Traditional planning guidelines of the former West Berlin demanded that new buildings in the neighbourhood (the Roldandufer in Mitte) reflect the local 19th century architectural style. Planning officials in the former East Berlin were more open to innovation. As a result, OMA combined an obedient approach (strictly fulfilling the block's perimeter) with a disobedient one (building an isolated cube).
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The embassy cuts the single, contiguous structure implied by Berlin's regulations into two parts: a cube accommodating offices, and a wall - the same height as the cube (27m, as regulations dictate) and only semi-opaque - surrounding the cube on two sides, accommodating embassy residences, and creating a protected internal courtyard. Four pedestrian bridges span the courtyard and link the cube with the wall at varying levels.

Inside the cube, the sense of security and stability required for an embassy co-exists with the free circulation provided by a 200m path that zig-zags up through the eight storeys, determining the arrangement of the building's spaces.

From the entrance, the trajectory of the path leads to the library, on to the meeting rooms, skirting the offices, leading up to the fitness area and finally the restaurant on the roof terrace. This trajectory also distributes fresh air drawn from the double plenum façade to the work spaces (the areas that the path has carved out of the cube). At one point the path escapes the constraints of the cube and cantilevers over the courtyard. The regularity of the cube's glass and steel facade is disturbed again at moments where the path grazes the exterior, making itself visible from the outside and providing strategic views of the Spree, and the television tower.
FACT SHEET
Project:
Royal Netherlands Embassy to the Federal Republic of Germany

Client:
Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Dienst Gebouwen Buitenland, The Hague

Year:
1997 commission, 2003 completion

Status:
Built

Type:
Office

Location:
Berlin-Mitte, Rolandufer / Klosterstrasse

Site:
Facing street corner, park, riverfront

Program:
Total area 8,500m2, offices (4,800m2), housing (1,500m2), parking (2,200m2)


COLLABORATORS
Structure:
Royal Haskoning / Arup Berlin

Services:
Huygen Elwako / Arup Berlin

Project Management:

Royal Haskoning

Fire safety:
Hosser Hass + Partner, Berlin

Lighting:
OVI, Washington DC, Berlin

Curtains:
Petra Blaisse, Inside Outside


PRESS
New York Times, 15 April 2005

A+ #197, 12/05-1/06
AD Architectural Digest, 09/06
arq./a, 11-12/06
Arquitectura e arte, 11-12/06Building Design #1725, 09/06/06
Era 21/05/06
GA Document #90, 24/05/06
iiC #819, 04/06
Lotus international #127, 2006
Odd - Even c3, 2006
Pasajes Construcción #20, 2006
Republic #1, 2006
Técnicas de vanguardia constructivas #8, 06/06
ViA arquitectura 15.V, Fall 2006
Vormagazin, 05/06
CREDITS
Partners in charge:
Rem Koolhaas, Ellen van Loon

Project Director:
Erik Schotte

Project Architect:

Michelle Howard, Gro Bonesmo, Erik Schotte

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


AWARDS
2005 Mies van der Rohe Award:
The European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture


VISITS
Klosterstrasse 50, Berlin
dutchembassy.de
receptie@bln.nlamb.de