Friday, November 4, 2011

British Embassy in Berlin

Upon reunification in 1991, the German government returned the seat of government from Bonn to Berlin. Accordingly, the British government decided to reoccupy the Wilhelmstra├če site, despite the German Foreign Office no longer being located in this street. An architectural competition was held, and won by the practice of Michael Wilford and Partner (see also Manuel Schupp). Ground was broken at the site on 29 June 1998 by Derek Fatchett MP, and the new building opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 18 July 2000.
Berliners love to give nicknames to new buildings and the building soon became known as „das bunte Haus“ (the colourful house).  The building is next to the Hotel Adlon and around the corner from Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate.  
The sandstone cladding is an obvious reference to this.
Michael Wilford and Partners wanted to give passers-by an insight into the work of the Embassy so the facade has been cut wide open to reveal the circular purple conference drum and the triangular pale blue Information Centre.
The street in front of the embassy is completely closed off to motor vehicles, and again, I felt the suspicious glance of the guards on me as I observed the building.
I was a bit annoyed with the way that the Union Jack was tethered, and I have no idea why this is done.  Perhaps yet another restriction placed by the heavy hand of the local authority.  
In 2009, the British Embassy Berlin was assessed by BREEAM, the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings, and was awarded the new "BREEAM in-Use" certificate.  In 2010 it received the BREEAM in-Use International Award. The Embassy building achieved a ‘Very Good’ rating for Part 1: Asset Performance and Part 2: Building Management Performance.

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