Walter Benjamin Platz
In Hans Kollhof’s project in Berlin, the building’s greatest urban values lie within the thicknesses marking the boundary line between interior and exterior. While on one hand the rhythm of the façade echoes the rigorous pattern of Ungers and essential style of Schinkel, on the other, it takes into account the German capital’s diversity of volume and colour, assimilating them and placing them in new relationships. The challenge is to succeed in using nothing but this quarry material, and stone here reveals its ability to be a monument in itself.
A silent expressiveness emanates from the classical architectural elements, revisited in a modern style. The aim to convey orderly and austere emotion is achieved through the delicate variation of slabs in the wall cladding, which gradually become more slender as they come down to the human scale; and likewise in the intradoses of the windows and corner pilasters of the arcade. The latter’s impressive solidity accentuates the play of chiaroscuro, creating a shadowy and dynamic effect within deliberately reduced margins.
The classic tripartition is respected: the same giant order in which we find the porch and ground-floor and mezzanine commercial spaces, and which substitutes the square pillar with a cylindrical one where the two buildings are mirrored, outlines the base. The structure is embodied by the five upper floors and a parapet at the top. This monochrome, single-material shaft of the building effectively achieves shade through means of foldable projecting systems. They too are in the only other shade of colour in relation to the façade material, giving the building a varied aspect according to the different use of each inside space. The engaged columns, which mark the entire building become more slender three floors up, respecting the skyward ascent. The dialogue between the two buildings is reciprocally initialled by a porch opening onto a public space. The corner of the building is accentuated in the five upper floors, not having windows between the engaged columns.